The six word review: I’m not giving up my Jawbone.
I’ll be honest, I’m kind of tired of buying these things and always being disappointed (what is this, like my 20th Bluetooth headset?). Here’s to hoping Aliph can use its recent $5 million cash infusion to remedy all of the original Jawbone’s shortcomings; if they make it smaller, louder, and impervious to wind, it’s going to be untouchable.
First off, I quite like the design. Though I could certainly do without the black tip (why not just use the metal grate for the length of it?), it’s not too bad, and I’ve no complaints about its size, which allows it to take a decent fit to my ear. Save the ear hook, I really like the materials used, especially the diamond-cut metal (whatever that means).
The microUSB-powered desktop charger looks cool, has some heft, and uses magnets to couple the headset to it; you just set the headset near it and it sucks it down and begins charging. The package also includes a useful travel charger/case and a micro-to-miniUSB converter.
The multi-color LED is unobtrusive, and as far as these things go, is done quite well; I don’t quite understand it, but manufacturers are convinced that Bluetooth headsets need blinking, public-facing lights (the Jawbone’s is horrible — very distracting). What amounts to a small dot on the H12 indicates various things, such as an incoming call, call status, battery status,¹ etc.
The one overriding problem I have with the Jawbone is its low speaker volume. I’ve never had a complaint from the other side, but more often than I’d like the volume just isn’t loud enough on my end. The H12 is definitely better about this, but noticeably clips the audio if you push it too far — one step forward, two steps back.
Overall, it’s quite easy to use (not least because it has dedicated power, volume, and talk buttons) and performs moderately well.
The not so good
There was a lot of hype surrounding this headset (mostly from Motorola), but unfortunately the device just doesn’t live up to it, especially when it comes to the most hyped bit: noise-cancellation.
This is Motorola’s first headset with CrystalTalk, its newfangled noise-cancellation technology. Like it or not, companies need to realize that the Jawbone has set the noise-cancelling standard — if your device can’t at least compete with its abilities in this regard, then you probably need to return to the drawing board.
Everyone I’ve talked to while using the H12 has either asked me what’s wrong with my phone (because they’ve been spoiled by my Jawbone (seriously)) or responded negatively when I’ve asked about background noise. I don’t mean to say that CrystalTalk doesn’t work, or even that it works poorly, but to even try to compare it to the Jawbone seems silly; this performance disparity is the main reason I decided to not hang onto it.
The final comment I have concerns the ear hook, which despite its appearance, isn’t rubbery at all; it’s hard plastic that can rotate around the earpiece, but doesn’t change shape. Save its ability to rotate, it offers zero customization, and unfortunately, the way it connects to the headset reminds me a lot of the fragile ear hook on my Jabra JX10 (which, to Jabra’s credit, they tried to make right).
- This is probably real-world useless; basically it tells you, using green, yellow, and red, that there are up to 5 hours remaining, between 30 minutes and 4 hours remaining, and less than 30 minutes remaining, respectively. ↩