Phones

5 Bluetooth Headsets: Not Just for Phone Calls

Jabra Stone2

If looks were everything in a headset, the Jabra Stone2 would be a surefire winner. It has a beautiful spiral design, making it look like a piece of jewelry or a fashion accessory. The shiny black-and-silver case is a real eye-catcher, and the company also sells a version with a leatherette exterior.

The Stone2 is not only striking but lightweight -- it weighs just .25 oz., the lightest of the headsets I looked at. At 1.8 x 1.5 x 1.0 in., it is much bigger than the Motorola CommandOne or the Jawbone ERA, but small compared to the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC.

It comes with a MicroUSB charging cable, an AC adapter with a one-foot cable, and a dock that it snaps into for charging. There's also a handy clothing clip that makes it hard to lose.

The device includes four silicone ear tips, but none fit my ears quite right. The closest one was still a little loose in my ear, and while it stayed put, it wobbled when I jerked my head. Southpaws, take notice: The Stone2's ear loop can't be removed, so the headset can't be worn in the left ear.

In a design move that harkens back to earlier headsets, the Stone2 doesn't have an on-off switch. To turn it on and off, you take it out of the dock or put it back in, which could frustrate people who don't want to carry the dock around with them.

There's only one button on the headset, which is for dialing, accepting or ending a call. In one of the slickest designs I've seen, there are no volume buttons, either. To make it louder or softer, just swipe your finger up or down the length of the device; a tone confirms the action.

The Stone2 also offers voice control. To dial a call, just say "Call so-and-so," and the phone connects the call. To take or duck a call, all you do is say "Answer" or "Ignore." To end a call, you either press the Stone2's button or say "Call ended." Over several calls, it worked quite well, but it took me some time to get used to saying the magic words -- for example, once I said "Take" instead of "Answer" and the headset did nothing.

Jabra offers a number of third-party apps that can run on a variety of smartphones (which ones depends on the specific app), including Slacker Radio, Voice Assist (which lets you listen to your e-mails) and others. My favorite was Slydial Voice Messaging, which lets you send a voice-mail message to anyone in your phone's address book -- perfect for the shy or very busy among us.

The Stone2's Achilles' heel is its battery. At 2 hours and 25 minutes, it lasted 17 minutes longer than the i.Tech EasyChat 306, but only one-third as long as the Voyager Pro UC. It's unlikely that it can go for a full day of intermittent use. It does have one of the best battery gauges of the group, however -- three LEDs that darken one by one as the battery drains.

The headset's 33-foot range should be adequate for walking around a hotel room or coffee shop while remaining connected. However, the audio was adequate at best. On top of annoying background static when I was driving with the windows down, my words broke up on the other end of the call, making each of us repeat ourselves. And the headset's volume level never got loud enough to compete against wind noise or in a noisy environment like a supermarket.

Bottom line

The Stone2 has a beautiful design and provides access to excellent add-on software, but it lacks the volume and battery life needed to excel as a wireless headset.

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