Jabra BT 500v

As many of you know, I’ve tried many different Bluetooth headsets and I keep coming back to my Jabra BT 500. So when I discovered that the Jabra had updated the BT 500 to the BT 500v, I decided to check it out.

Why I keep coming back to this particular headset?

Before I get into the BT 500v (which there isn’t much to get into), I thought I’d answer the question as to why I keep coming back to this one. It’s simple. It’s the most comfortable headset I’ve tried to date. I’ve tried in ear and I’ve tried on ear. The BT 500 series is "over the ear." I wear glasses, so it doesn’t help when a head set is trying to be in the same place as the rim of my glasses. Most "on ear" headsets literally cause me pain after about 30 minutes of use. I could wear the BT 500 all day. Sometimes I forget I have it on. The other kinds either hurt, don’t go down in my ear far enough or feel like they’re going to fall off.

OK, so what’s new about the BT 500v

If you go to Jabra.com and do a compare of the BT 500 vs. the BT 500v, you’ll only see one difference in the specs. The BT 500 v has a standby time of 300 hours vs. the 240 hours of the BT 500. So it has significantly longer battery life. The only other visual change is the color (Black vs. Silver).

I’ve seen this headset average about $80 on the web. So when I saw it listed at cellhut.com for only $50, I was cautiously curious. I decided to order it anyway. It came and I was surprised that it was the right model and new in the box. However, there was a catch. Also in the box was a universal power adapter (not in the Jabra box, but in the cardboard shipping box). So I knew something was up and sure enough it was the UK version of the headset. Since everything works the same and they did supply the UK to US power adapter, I didn’t complain. Also it works with the adapter I already own for the BT 500.

Sound quality is about the same. Pairing with the iPhone was a piece of cake and it supports re-dialing the last number dialed on the iPhone with a single button press on the headset. As usual it comes with 3 different ear gel sizes, since one size doesn’t fit all. My favorite headset, just got a little better! Going forward, I’d like to see Bluetooth 2.0 support (I don’t know why) and noise/wind reduction features.

iPhone rate plans and activation details announced

 

iPhone week is in full swing and today Apple/AT&T announced the long awaited rate plans and activation details. As suspected you’ll buy your iPhone from either Apple or AT&T and go home and activate it via your iTunes account, major credit card and social security number. I think this is brilliant as it will certainly keep the lines moving as people just pick between the two models, pay and leave the store.

Apple has released details of the service plans that will be available for the iPhone. Three special monthly plans are available:

– $59.99 for 450 voice minutes
– $79.99 for 900 voice minutes
– $99.99 for 1,350 voice minutes

All three plans include unlimited data (email & web), Visual Voicemail, 200 SMS text messages, roll over minutes and unlimited mobile to mobile calling. Plans have a $36 one-time activation fee and are two year contracts. Family plans and Rollover minutes will are also available. In addition, any standard AT&T service plan may be chosen. Existing AT&T customers will be able to upgrade their existing plans for as little as $20 more per month.

Apple® and AT&T Inc. today announced that iPhone™ users will be able to activate their new iPhones using Apple’s popular iTunes® software running on a PC or Mac® computer in the comfort and privacy of their own home or office, without having to wait in a store while their phone is activated. Activating iPhone takes only minutes as iTunes guides the user through simple steps to choose their service plan, authorize their credit and activate their iPhone. Once iPhone is activated, users can then easily sync all of their phone numbers and other contact information, calendars, email accounts, web browser bookmarks, music, photos, podcasts, TV shows and movies just like they do when they sync their iPods with iTunes.

Apple & AT&T give me drivers please!

Now that Apple and AT&T are a couple and they’re about to give birth to their first offspring (the iPhone), it’s time that Apple stepped up to the plate and supported AT&T’s other kids. Namely the new Option GT Max 3.6 Express Card and the Sierra Wireless Aircard 875u (USB solution) Granted they are not as cute as the iPhone, however they shouldn’t be treated as step children. Apple had no problem supporting Verizon’s EVDO kids (v640 & v740 in the WWAN 1.0 Driver Update) so it should do the same here. Sure I know that Option supposedly offers Mac drivers directly, but that kind of child support should come directly from the father of the Mac. So how about it Apple? How about the WWAN 2.0 Driver Update? It’s embarrassing that AT&T has to list these cards as being supported by Windows only (isn’t that like welfare or something?).

I love my Verizon v640 card. It works great! However, the Cingular solution is a 3g (HSDPA) world solution that would work outside the US and it’s theoretically faster than EVDO. I don’t travel outside the US often, but when I do I hate that I have to leave the v640 parked in my bag until I return. Since Apple is more open to providing drivers for wireless cards right in the OS, I don’t want to have to go installing 3rd party drivers if I don’t have to. Apple either needs to support this card quickly or AT&T needs to ship the Novatel Merlin XU870 ExpressCard that Apple already supports. My Verizon contract is over and Apple I’m just waiting on you to do the right thing.

Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

I’m always looking for the “best” bluetooth headset. Until now the best one for me was the Jabra BT500. Why? Because it was the most comfortable and worked well with my Treo 650. Then I caught wind of this New Jawbone Headset and I was intrigued by the “military grade” noise reduction that it sports. So after doing a quick search on eBay and a “Buy It Now” link, the Jawbone was on the way. I must admit that I was also digging the modern cheese grater/Mac Pro design. I also liked that it doesn’t have any visible buttons. However, I was a little concerned about comfort. After all I’m not a fan of over-the-ear headsets.

I gave the Jawbone a workout this weekend and unlike other over-the-ear headsets, this one actually feels much better on my ear. However, the fit is not as snug as I would like (no headset is a perfect fit on me). Jawbone measures the ambient noise and adjusts the incoming and outgoing audio accordingly via its “noise shield.” The sound quality is better than average. I’ll have to continue testing it in noisy environments. I’m really curious as to how it will perform with the top down on a convertible on the highway which is one of my worse case scenarios.

Jawbone redThe Jawbone comes with a set of different sized ear buds and ear clips to attempt to fit most people. The default “round” ear bud was not a good fit for me at all. Luckily there was an elongated choice that fit much better. It also comes with an AC adapter for charging and the cable between the AC adapter and the headset has USB on one end. So you could just travel with the cable and headset to charge via the USB port on your laptop. I wish that it used a standard USB cable though. Although it’s USB on one end, it’s a proprietary connection on the other. This means that you have to use their cable. The Jawbone comes in Silver, Black or Red. I got the silver version as red was just going to clash too much with my wardrobe.

I can’t say that I Love the Jawbone just yet. I’ll have to use it more and take it on the road. However, my first impressions are better than any other headset I’ve tried so far. I need to give it a full day’s use to see if it is comfortable enough for all day use.

Jawbone offers 6 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time. It goes for about $110 on eBay. Cingular sells them too at a slightly higher price.

AirBase is just what I needed

Griffin Technologies AirBase

It may seem like I’m a sales agent for Griffin Technologies these days, trust me I’m not. I don’t get a single dime from them. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know if they know about my blog and have never even met anyone who works for Griffin. However, they seem to be making a lot of little gadgets that I need these days. I must admit that when I first saw the AirBase a few months back, I thought it was goofy and unnecessary. I dismissed it and moved on. Then I learned about just how important “placement” of wireless access points is. Placement is everything when it comes to range and performance. I had an AirPort Express in my living room behind a book case connected to my stereo for streaming iTunes music. Reception to that base station was so so. Then I got the idea to put it on top of the book case (about 5′ from the floor). That made all the difference in the world. I got a white extension cord and just kind of wedged it in between two other gadgets and prayed that it wouldn’t fall over. Of course that didn’t work so I remembered the AirBase. I went to Griffin’s site and saw that they still sold it. I ordered one.

The AirBase is a sturdy plastic weighted stand for your AirPort Express Base Station. It provides a way to elevate your base station and put it on a flat surface. It comes with a long power cable to run back to your outlet. It worked out well. My only complaint with it, is that the connectors are very snug. Even plugging in the power cable was harder than it should have been, to the point that I thought I was breaking the socket. Otherwise it was $25 well spent.