Bluetooth headsets are becoming a staple commodity in the mobile phone industry. We've mentioned the increasing number of state laws requiring hands-free operation of phones while driving and even without the laws, hands-free phone operation while driving makes sense. We're also a more mobile society, and a Bluetooth headset can be very accommodating for the mobile user.
We decided to take a look at two Bluetooth headsets, priced in the "under $50" range: the Jabra BT2070 and the Palm Bluetooth Headset. Both have comparable features but in a cost-conscious time, which is the best bang for you buck? Follow the break to see how these headsets measure up against one another.
Tale of the tape
The Jabra BT2070 measures in at 1.65 inches long, .7 inches wide and .5 inches high (excluding ear speaker/1.06 inches including ear speaker). It weights in at .28 ounces. The BT2070 is a short and stocky headset, but noticeably lightweight. Features include answer call (always a good feature), reject call, end call, voice dialing, and last number redial. The battery life is reported by Jabra to be approximately 200 hours of standby time and 5.5 hours of talk time. The Jabra BT2070 can be paired with as many as eight devices one at a time. It comes packaged with the headset, charger, S/M/L ear hooks, and documentation.
The Palm headset measures in at approximately 2 inches long, .5 inches wide and .5 inches high and weighs .33 ounces. It's slightly larger and heavier than the Jabra but is more round, so the larger size is deceptive. Features include answer call, reject call, last number redial, voice dialing, and call mute. The battery life is reported by Palm to be approximately 70 hours of standby time and 5 hours of talk time. The Palm comes packaged with the headset, S/M/L ear gel tips, ear hook, charging base, pocket charger adapter, and a multi-lingual manual that would rival some small-town phone books.
Both headsets are small and lightweight, again giving the nod to the BT2070 for being the smaller of the two. Both headsets depend on a central button to control the devices functionality. Jabra's control button is more centered on the face of the device while Palm's is more higher, towards the top. Both were just as easily accessible when worn. One more observation on the control buttons is that the Jabra's button clicks to confirm presses while the Palm's button doesn't and feels a little soft.
The volume keys on the Jabra are located above the center button on the devices face while the Palm's volume control buttons are below the button, again, on the device's face. The Palm's volume buttons were raised a little making them easier to locate. The Jabra's volume buttons are flush with the surface and as close as they are to the control button, a little difficult to manipulate.
One of the biggest differences in these two headsets is power management. The Jabra comes packaged with a wall charger and the battery life is rated greater than the Palm's. In the week I used the BT2070, I would agree with Jabra's battery life reporting. The Palm, if you noticed earlier, does not come packaged with a wall charger. For some, this exclusion could be a deal-breaker.
The Palm device relies on the charger for the Treo and Centro line of phones. This is a major blow to those interested in this headset that use a phone other than a Palm phone. It does come with a convenient portable charger that charges the phone with a AA battery. I couldn't see anyone using this as the primary method of charging. Fortunately, I've got an old Treo 750 in the closet, so getting the Palm Bluetooth Headset charged wasn't an issue. As with Jabra, I wouldn't disagree with Palm's reported battery life.
With the technology available today, you really have to work hard to produce a Bluetooth headset with poor audio and voice quality. The Palm and Jabra both have acceptable audio quality, and both devices picked up my voice using a normal tone and volume. I would give a slight edge to the Jabra with regards to noise filtration, but the Palm wasn't too shabby.
The Jabra fit my ear a little better than the Palm. The Palm relies a lot on the ear gel insert and while it comes packaged with different sized gels, the fit has to be more precise with this design. The Palm does come with a ear hook but in using the hook, the gel didn't seat as well.
The Jabra can be worn with or without the ear hook but rides more securely and comfortably with the hook in place. The ear speaker is a "one size fits all" design and while it does fit inside the ear, it's a lot more comfortable resting on the ear.
Both headsets were comfortable enough to wear for about an hour then the ear needed a breather. While both wore secure enough for daily activities, I'd give the edge to the Jabra. If you need a headset for something more active (jogging, bicycling, etc.) the Jabra would definitely be the clear winner.
The Jabra BT2070 and Palm Bluetooth Headset are both good ear pieces. The biggest disadvantage to the Palm is the lack of a charger. This isn't an issue if you use a Palm Treo or Centro but if you use a HTC or Samsung phone, you're out of luck. Palm definitely gets credit for the packaging. All the extra ear gels, ear hook and charging station comes packaged in an aluminum case that even has a mirror on the backside. I guess you use it to make sure the headset is positioned just right. Personally, I would have traded the nifty case for a wall charger any day.
Both headsets performed well, with the edge going to the Jabra. The BT2070 was more comfortable to wear, filtered out background noise better and has a better battery life span. The Palm performed well and has a few more features but wasn't the most securest of fits. To its credit, had the Palm come packaged with a gel somewhere in between the large and medium sizes, the fit would have been better.
So, given the choice between these two headsets, I would be inclined to recommend the Jabra BT2070. But, if you're a devoted Palm customer, the Palm headset isn't all that bad a choice either.