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Jabra EXTREME Bluetooth Headset

December 6th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
4 Stars- techdad

The last two Bluetooth headsets that I used were the Plantronics Discovery 925 and Plantronics Discovery 975.  They were my favorite headsets among the many I have used since I started wearing them in 2005.  Unfortunately, I gave the 925 to my father and my 975 had to be sent in for warranty service.  When Amazon offered the Jabra Extreme for me to review, I jumped hard and fast.  Would it be an acceptable temporary solution until I got my 975 back, or would it be something else?

 

PROS
  • Attractive design
  • Diminutive size
  • Good sound quality
  • Good noise cancellation
  • Dedicated power switch
  • Great range
  • Multipoint & A2DP compatibility
  • Multiuse (connect 2 devices at the same time)
  • FANTASTIC accessories included
  • Comfortable fit (for me)
  • Fair battery life (5.5 hours talk/10.5 standby)
  • Multiple charging options
  • Great value for price point
CONS
  • Volume buttons a bit tiny
  • May not be comfortable for some ears
  • AC charger cord length is extremely short

The unheralded Jabra EXTREME has hit one out of the park folks.  Not only did I find it to be a good solution while I waited for my Plantronics Discovery 975 to come back from service, but I think the 975 may just end up becoming my backup headset.  The Jabra EXTREME is very similar to the Jabra BT 530 but the EXTREME has improved noise cancellation, Multipoint, Multiuse, Acoustic Shock Protection, and A2DP music streaming.  In fact, if you look at the back of the EXTREME headset, you’ll see the BT530 model # imprinted on it. Make no mistake though, the EXTREME is significantly improved.

PAIRING
The EXTREME goes into pairing mode the first time it is turned on and my Motorola Droid found it quickly and paired without having to enter a code.

FIT
If you have read my other Bluetooth headset reviews, you know that fit is a HUGE deal for me.  The EXTREME admirably attempts to accommodate most users by providing a couple of ear hook sizes, a normal ear gel and also what Jabra calls, Ultimate-fit ear gels. Plantronics has a similar ear gel technology and I have to admit that Plantronics’ implementation is more comfortable and fits better.  After trying different combinations of ear gels and hooks, I ended up just using the normal ear gel without the hooks.  It is secure enough that I could probably go jogging with it and not fall out.  It’s not quite as comfortable as the Plantronics Discovery 925/975, but definitely good enough for at least an hour of continuous use.

STYLE
Though the EXTREME probably won’t win any style awards, I find it to be very attractive.  The design is subdued and the gunmetal gray front looks sharp.  Also, since the headset isn’t very large, it will probably attract less attention to the fact that you are wearing a Bluetooth headset.  I used to think that the Plantronics Discovery 925/975 looked very stylish and I thought I looked ok while wearing them until I started watching “24” Season 8. Everyone in CTU wears the Discovery 975 and well, I think they all look ridiculous.

CALL & MUSIC QUALITY
Jabra has finally decided to use dual mics in their noise cancellation technology, similar to how Plantronics and Aliph have.  Jabra calls theirs, Noise Blackout EXTREME.  And like Plantronics’ AudioIQ2, it works.  It cancels out background noise very well so that the person on the other end of the call can hear you clearly.  The EXTREME also automatically adjusts the volume of the call so that in noisy environments, you can hear the caller more clearly.  To protect your ears against sudden loud noises, it also has what they call, Acoustic Shock Protection.  A welcome feature addition to the EXTREME is support for A2DP which allows you to listen to music from your device via the headset.  It’s in mono, so it doesn’t sound great, but it is certainly good enough for casual music listening, NPR and for podcasts.

BATTERY & CHARGING
The battery life is about average for a modern Bluetooth headset and it takes 2 hours to fully charge.  I found that it came almost fully charged however and only needed about 15 minutes to charge the first time.  I was ecstatic with the charging options included with the Jabra EXTREME.  It comes with a USB car charger and includes a detachable piece that you can use to plug the headset into and charge it through ANY powered USB port.  So, you could be charging your headset on the way to work in your car and finish charging it in your office from your laptop.  Awesome!  I am baffled by the short cord on the AC charger though.  I’m guessing they shortened it thinking most people charge their headsets from a counter-top wall outlet, but I don’t.  My chargers are usually on the floor behind my desk. Lucky for me, since the headset uses a micro-USB port, I use my Motorola Droid’s charger at my desk to charge both.

BUTTONS
A welcome feature on the Jabra EXTREME is a dedicated power switch.  I have never had a headset that paired as quickly as the EXTREME.  Whenever I flip the power switch on, my Droid pairs within 5 seconds.  It also has an answer/end button and a volume up and a volume down button.  The volume buttons are rather small, but you get used to them.  Also, when you aren’t on a call, if you push either of the volume buttons, it acts as a battery life indicator.  Green means 1-4.5 hours of talk time remaining, yellow means 10 minutes to 1 hour of time remaining, and red means less than 10 minutes of talk time remaining.


SUMMARY
I was never a fan of Jabra Bluetooth headsets until now.  Most never fit well or were comfortable.  Jabra has finally made one that is reasonably comfortable to use, though they could do even better.  The call quality, advanced noise cancellation, charging options and very low MSRP, make the Jabra EXTREME an amazing value and my choice for use in the car.
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