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The Jabra BT500 offers extended phone functionality for mobile users but the fiddly controls and odd looking design may turn some people off
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
The problem with writing about Bluetooth headsets is that they are very much dependent on your individual tastes as to just what exactly constitutes 'stylish' - one person's style can be another person's fashion faux pas. To us, the Jabra BT500 is a nifty little Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone accessory that functionally performs well, but in terms of design wasn't particularly to our liking.
Weighing just 19 grams and silver black in colour, the BT500 is designed to sit comfortably behind your ear, with the rotatable mini Gel speaker resting just inside the ear itself. The unit is fulyl curved (almost forming a U shape) with the microphone positioned behind under the ear lobe. It took us a little while to get used to the feel of it, but once on, the device is almost unnoticeable.
All the controls for the BT500 are on laid out on the top curve of the unit. There is one Answer/End button for accepting/ending calls, voice dialling and redialling. A second button further up on the device is used to place it in 'pairing mode' to use with a phone and above that is a slider control for adjusting volume. There are also two LED lights - one which tells you if the unit has low battery, is fully charged or charging and the second if the unit is in active or standby mode.
While the controls on the BT500 are all laid out logically, only the first Answer/End button is raised, making it difficult sometimes to find the other buttons or be sure you are pressing the right one. The volume slider is easy enough to find, but wasn't as responsive as we would've liked. We also found the controls a little tricky to use because most of the functionality is accessed through the Answer/End button and the type of operation performed depends on whether you tap it, press it, or press and hold it. It took us a little while to get used to the intricacies of interacting with the BT500 and the supplied manual was unfortunately rather sparse in detail.
Before you can use the BT500, it must first be 'paired' with your Bluetooth compatible mobile (A list of compatible unit can be found on the Jabra website). This was a relatively simple process and we had our Nokia 6230 and headset paired in a few short seconds. The BT500 is extremely easy to use. When a call comes in, you simply press the Answer/End button (the BT500 will beep once) to accept the call and start speaking. If your phone supports it, you can also reject a call by pressing and holding the Answer/End button (the BT500 will beep twice, letting you know the call was rejected). Apart from answering and ending calls, the BT500 allows you to use voice dialling and also dial the last number - but again only if your phone supports this function. Handily, if your phone is on silent mode, the unit also beeps so you know a call is incoming.
The quality of the calls was clear for the most part, but on other hand, background noise was quite audible to those on the other end of the line. Although Jabra state the range of the BT500 as 10 metres, we found that the call quality deteriorates markedly the further away you move from your phone and we recommend always having your phone nearby. Apart from the call quality, the only other issue we found was that we couldn't use our phone normally to receive calls when the BT500 was paired, as all sound output was routed to the headset. Basically, if you pair your BT500 you have to use it to answer calls until you disconnect it.
The BT500 charges using a USB cable which plugs into an AC adapter and took around 2 hours to fully recharge. Jabra promise up to 8 hours talk time and 240 hours standby time, which is ample.
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