17

Review: Jawbone Prime

Some time ago we reviewed the Jawbone Bluetooth headset by Aliph and found it to be an all-around quality headset with excellent audio quality and noise filtration. A few months ago, Aliph's released the successor to the original, the Jawbone Prime.

Stated Aliph CEO and co-founder Hosain Rahman in a press release:

“We watched our customers closely and saw how they struggled to be heard in extreme noise environments. So, we focused our engineering team to go deeper on the tough problems like crying babies, pounding jackhammers, beeping elevators and the like. As a result, we are excited to announce Jawbone PRIME, with orders of magnitude better noise suppression, so our customers can continue their conversations wherever they happen to be.”

We were curious if the Jawbone Prime performed as well as the original Jawbone did and took the Jawbone out for a test drive with the AT&T Fuze.  After the break, you can see product shots and our observations in using this new Bluetooth headset.

Out of the Box

The Jawbone Prime is a solidly constructed, slick looking Bluetooth headset. It comes packaged with various sized ear buds (with and without loop), a wire thin ear hook, a leather wrapped ear hook (dubbed "premium ear hook"), USB charge cable, wall charger adapter, and a very thorough user manual. The Jawbone Prime measures 2.1 inches long, 1 inch wide and 0.6 inches thick. The Bluetooth headset weighs in at 0.4 ounces.

There are no external buttons on the Jawbone Prime and just like the original, volume keys would have been nice. The Prime does have two buttons under the diamond cut surface. A paper thin LED sits on the surface of the Prime that helps confirms certain features. The only problem I had with the LED is that when you press the forward button your thumb covers it up making it difficult to confirm feature activations.

Voice Activation Sensor and Noise Assassin

The cornerstone of the Jawbone headsets is the ability to filter out background noise and to provide the best audio experience ever. They do this through two key features, the Voice Activation Sensor and the Noise Assassin technology.

The Voice Activation Sensor is the little white nub on the bottom of the Jawbone Prime that rests against your cheek. While the two microphones of the Jawbone Prime does a good job of picking up audio, the Voice Activation Sensor (VAS) helps detect when your speaking and captures the frequencies of your speech to improve the audio quality.

The Noise Assassin 2.0 is being touted as an improvement from the original Jawbone in that in the noisiest environments (6 to 9dB) it filters out more noise while keeping the user's voice natural. By default, the Noise Assassin is active but it can be disabled.

Jawbone also utilizes a Acoustic Voice Activity Detector (AVAD) that acts as a fail-safe mechanism should the VAS not come into contact with your face. With the original Jawbone, the VAS had to be in contact with your face to operate. With the Prime, it works best if the VAS is in contact with your face but will function otherwise.

Performance

Setting up your Jawbone Prime is a piece of cake and the Owner's Manual walks you through the process rather nicely. From finding the right sized ear bud to pairing the Jawbone Prime with the AT&T Fuze was effortless and took only a few minutes. The Prime has two buttons beneath the surface of the headset. There is a vertical indention in the design that separates the buttons' location.

To the front of the indention is the button that controls the power, answer/end, LED disable functions. The button to the rear of the indention controls the Noise Assassin feature, Call reject, cycles through the volume, redials the last number and initiates voice dialing (phone dependent). Different taps, presses and holds of each button distinguish the feature it controls.

The first time you turn on the Jawbone Prime (pressing the front button and holding it for two seconds) the headset goes into pairing mode. It is then a matter of getting your phone to recognize the headset and, if necessary, enter the super secret code. The Jawbone Prime can be paired with up to eight devices.

While having the buttons concealed beneath the surface makes for a sleeker appearance, I would have liked to have seen a dedicated power and volume controls. While the rear button cycles through preset volume levels, I found myself initiating redialing or voice dialing while cycling the volume. A dedicated power button is convenient, eliminates the need to press/hold a button and you can tell at a glance if your headset is on or off.

The Jawbone Prime was comfortable to wear and light enough not to feel like your ear was weighted down. Choosing the right sized ear bud is important and as the box mentions, the ear hook is not required. However, while the headset rides comfortably and securely the ear hook adds to the secure ride without creating discomfort. One note with regards to the different styled ear buds is that the ones with the loop push the Jawbone towards your face just enough to keep the VAS in contact with your cheek. The buds without the loop have a tendency to allow the VAS to loose contact with your face.

While the science behind the Jawbone Prime sounds impressive, the crucial measure is how it performs with every day use. Sound and audio quality was very good. Dieter did a demo (see video below) on the noise filtration when he reviewed the original Jawbone and I'd have to rate the Jawbone Prime's performance just as good, if not a hair better, than the original.

 

The car stereo wasn't an issue, driving with the car windows down wasn't a problem and surrounding traffic noise wasn't noticeable.  The Jawbone Prime filtered out the background noise extremely well, putting my voice at the forefront.  

Aliph reports battery life for the Jawbone Prime to be approximately eight days of standby time and 4.5 hours of talk time. Based on battery performance during my test drive, I won't dispute Aliph's claims. The LED light will begin to flash red when the battery level begins to get low and with the ability to charge the Prime through a USB port on a computer or with the wall charger, power shouldn't be a problem. Oh, and instead of going from red to green during a charging cycle (approximately fifty minutes) the Jawbone Prime's LED goes from red to white.

Overall Impression

Personally, I'm partial to Bluetooth Speakerphones such as the Jabra SP200 for the car but if Bluetooth headsets are your preference the Jawbone Prime should definitely make your short list.

Voice and audio quality was amongst the best (if not the best) I've experienced in a Bluetooth headset. The absence of above-surface buttons took a little time to get used to. While I would have liked to have seen a dedicated power or volume control, that's more of a personal preference than a detraction from the headset.

The biggest drawback on the Jawbone Prime might be the cost. At just under $120 it is the more costly Bluetooth headset on the market. It is the "Cadillac" of headsets and while the performance and build quality is impressive, justifying the cost is an individual choice. You can find just as nice a headset at a lower cost (e.g. the Motorola H15) but I don't know if you'll match the Jawbone's performance.

The Jawbone Prime comes in three metallic color schemes (platinum, coffee (brown) and black) and the Jawbone Prime Earcandy Edition is available in four vibrant colors (lime green, scarlet red, yellow, and lilac). To see what styles are in stock, head on over to our favorite accessory store.

Overall: 5/5

Pros

  • Quality Constructed
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent Sound/Audio Quality

Cons

  • Sub-Surface Buttons take a little getting used to

 

-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

Reader comments

Review: Jawbone Prime

17 Comments

I just got a Jawbone Prime but can't get my 2-year old Samsung Sync to recognize the device. Can someone tell me what to do? THANKS!

i just paired a Jawbone Prime to a samsung phone. You have to go to the Bluetooth section in your phone, maybe under Connectivity. then make sure it's Visible and Activation On. then when your jawbone pairs (blinks), it will detect and show up on screen. then select jawbone and enter the password. that's it

Bought one a couple weeks ago after taking back: Plantronics 925, Plantronics voyager pro, zivo boom.
So far, the prime WORKS. The incoming sound could be a little better (pitch is too "high"), but the noise cancellation is great, and the incoming sound (except for the lack of bass response) is loud.
Fit isn't an issue for me, I use a custom molded ear piece.

I just upgraded from the JawboneII and gave it to my wife, I too noticed that I was afraid to adjust the fit during a call for fear that I would hang up on the person. I noticed that the primes main button seems to be a little more firm, and not as easy to bump on accident. Once thing to keep in mind is that the new earbuds fit much more snug and comfortable so you are much less likely to need to adjust the earpiece.

A question for owners. I have used the previous two Jawbone models. After upgrading to the Jawbone 2 (immediate predecessor to the Prime with similar body style), I found that trying to insert or adjust the earpiece would constantly hang up on incoming calls because the answer/end call button had a hair trigger. I ended up going back to the original model even though it's bulkier. My question is, is this still a problem on the Prime or have they improved the design so that it's harder to accidentally hit the button? Thanks in advance for any observations.

I just upgraded from the JawboneII and gave it to my wife, I too noticed that I was afraid to adjust the fit during a call for fear that I would hang up on the person. I noticed that the primes main button seems to be a little more firm, and not as easy to bump on accident. Once thing to keep in mind is that the new earbuds fit much more snug and comfortable so you are much less likely to need to adjust the earpiece..

I have had a Jawbone PRIME for about two weeks now and it is great. The noise cancellation is way above the norm and the battery life has not been a problem. I have it paired with a BlackBerry Curve 8330 and I have had no problems. It is the most comfortable hands-free I have ever used, and I have had many. The price is well worth it, I used to purchase a hands-free, wear it for 3-4 months,, then buy another that would hopefully be more comfortable. This PRIME is so comfortable, most of the time, I do not even notice that I am wearing it. So, I think this one is a keeper.

Also returned a Plantronics 925, then bought a Jawbone Prime. It works great; I can use it on the highway in my convertible with the top down.

I just bought the Prime to use with my Iphone 3GS and read in the instructions that it can initiate voice dialing. Can't seem to get this feature to work. What am I doing wrong or do I need a special app for it to work?

one day i went shopping outside ?and in an links of london store?I found some kinds of links of london i love most?they are: Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets Links of london mens bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets shopping Links of London Bracelets

Worst customer support I've ever experienced of any company, I've ever dealt with. I bought my jawbone 2 weeks ago, It won't turn on, charge, pair or anything. Left it overnight on the charger, nothing. Sent a support email to jawbone directly through their website, week and a half later, still nothing. Tried to return it for warranty, with the receipt, only the bottom casing of the original box was missing, they wont honor it. I'm sure I would happily pay the extra 3 cents it costs to produce that little cardboard sleeve.

I've read around on every forum i could find to do with the prime, and it seems its around every 1/20-25 is dead out of the box. Someone at the company must be falling asleep on the quality test line.

All in all not very pleased. Considering just throwing this useless piece of technological trash in the bin.

I absolutely loved it! I had absolutely no problems with my headset. Thing, sometimes it can feel incredibly comfortable in my ear too. Unfortunately my truck before I somehow fell out the door and I ran it on (would not recommend trying) ... But in the end I would buy another one soon!

Just purchased Jawbone Prime, for me I need a smaller rubber
earpiece so it will stay in my ear - Battery life is shorter than BH-904 Nokia that I lost recently, bought a cord so I wont lose it. I expected the earpiece to last the day at least.

Was wondering between the Jawbone Prime and Plantronics 975, bought the Plantronics 975 first, initial feel was the outgoing/incoming were very clear... real clear BUT the back ground noise was also clear too. Got it exchanged with another 975 (complained that the noise cancelling was not working)and it's the same. I was really impressed with the clarity, I mean real clear, the clearest bluetooth I've ever owned and I've already owned quite a few. It was even clearer than my last Motorola H790. The only problem was I spent extra bucks looking for clarity and noise cancelling and it only met half of my expectation so I decided to return the 975 for refund and bought the Jawbone Prime. The Jawbone Prime was also very good on background noise cancellation, clarity was OK, again the best on noise cancellation I've ever used BUT the clarity loses out to P975. I know I have to make a decision between the utmost on either clarity or noise cancellation so I finally chose the Jawbone. I guessed the clarity of P975 was good but in a noisy environment, the caller on the other end will still suffer with the disturbances too. Won't regret my decision as there's no one bluetooth headset that has the perfect features ...yet.

Biggest problem far is if it does start to fall out of your ear, it is very easy to hand up accidentally when you push it back in. I wish you could disable this function, but it isn't possible.

I have had about a dozen and a half headsets over the years as they die, break or get lost. I admist there has been a lot of losing. I decided to try the Prime after the on/off button on my old Plantronics (which I loved) was toast.

This device does everything George says as regards to call quality. The thing sounds great but...

...I hate this device!

Pairing drives me crazy. I had to do a hard reset on a phone and needed to repair the device. I got a new phone and had to do so again. As George mentioned its very difficult to locate the Noise Assasin button. Each time it took me about a half hour to get the device into pairing mode. Thelast time I ripped teh cover off of it so I could actually see the buttons. That worked pretty well. Fortunately, the cover goes on pretty easily.

During a call I find I am always trying to hit the noise assassin button to raise the volume. Supposedly, the button will cycle through volume levels. I find that I always keep pumping it and can never tell if it is cycling up or down. I then hold it which is supposed to deactivate Noise Assassin. That appears to raise the volume- sometimes. Also, I find that if I hit it wrong or grab the device to push it closer to my ear because I can't get the volume correct--- I cut off the call.

Why can I only adjust volume during a call? I would love to do this before I call somebody and sound like a fool because I cannot hear them. If I am having a bad day with the device I will call my voicemail just so I am not bothering somebody and I can monkey with the volume.

Here, elegance of style has been a disaster for function. This device would be great and only a little less "cool" if it had buttons that one could find.