capsule review

Jabra BT530 Bluetooth Headset

At a Glance
  • Jabra BT530

    PCWorld Rating

    Wearing the Jabra BT530 with or without the earhook provides a secure fit, but its audio quality isn't consistent.

Putting on the GN Netcom Jabra BT530 ($100 as of December 1, 2008) involved minimal attachment hassles--a plus for those who like their Bluetooth headset to have an earhook.

The Jabra's default earhook is relatively short and its loop shape is narrow, which suited my small ears (the headset comes with a larger earhook that you can swap in, too). An efficient up-and-over-the-ear maneuver, along with a relatively quick in-the-ear-placement, was all it took to get going. Getting a good fit with the BT530 required just a little bit less time compared with the number one model among our latest headset test batch, the Aliph Jawbone.

Earhooks not your thing? The Jabra lets you remove the earhook entirely. Instead, you can switch out the regular ear gel for one of six replacement gels, each with a small loop that helps hold the headset in place. This versatility is great for fusspots like me (I generally find earhooks uncomfortable). Unlike the smooth round tip on the Plantronics Discovery 925, the Jabra tip has a beak-like portion that juts out--this is the bit that you put into your ear canal--so you just have to nudge it in somewhat before you're ready to rock and roll. Even with my head tilted horizontally, the BT530 stayed snug. And with or without the hook, the headset feels lightweight.

Getting the hang of the button layout took just a few calls. I prefer having the start/end call button near the top of a headset; in the BT530's case, the volume buttons are at the top, and the call button is too far down the earpiece for my liking. Before I became familiar with the layout, I accidentally ended a call when I wanted to increase the volume.

The BT530's call quality was all over the map: My voice sounded incredibly clear during some calls, but at other times the call recipients picked up on echoes and some distortion of my voice. The other parties sometimes thought my voice sounded hollow, too. When I was at the edge of the Bluetooth working range (33 feet), calls dropped before I could get back in range again.

(For more information on selecting the right headset for you, see our Bluetooth headset buying guide.)

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Wearing the Jabra BT530 with or without the earhook provides a secure fit, but its audio quality isn't consistent.

    Pros

    • Comfortable fit, sleek design
    • Hook and no-hook options

    Cons

    • Inconsistent call quality
    • Call button hard to reach initially
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