Review: Jabra JX10 is a headset with a light touch

It's an inch-and-a-half long, weighs a third of an ounce and has great sound quality

What do you get when you let a design firm get a hold of a Bluetooth headset? Apparently, Jabra's sleek, stylish JX10.

Now that we're used to the sight of people chatting via chunky Bluetooth ear adornments, along comes the JX10, a diminutive silver and black earplug designed by Danish firm Jacob Jensen.

How tiny is it? Weighing less than a third of an ounce and about an inch-and-a-half long, the Jabra JX10 is a featherweight. After popping one into my ear, I barely noticed it was there. It's incredibly easy to wear all day.

Jabra X10

Jabra JX10 Although it comes with a slim ear hook that can be clipped on for use on the right or left ear, you can use it without the hook. I wear glasses and found that it was more comfortable to drop the hook and perch JX10 right in my ear, making for an even smaller package.

Volume buttons along the back edge of the device are easy to reach and use, as is the answer/end button located along the bottom edge (or top edge if it's in your left ear). Just below the volume buttons is a port for connecting to the included charging cradle. The box also includes a carrying pouch and a Universal Serial Bus cable if you want to skip the cradle and hook up to a PC to recharge.

Like the JX10, the aforementioned cradle is far from bulky. Lightweight and slightly angled, it'll take up very little room on your desk.

I tested the JX10 with an aged Motorola V600 phone. The pairing process, which requires you to enter a code to get the two Bluetooth devices talking to each other, went smoothly. Not so hot: the teeny, tiny, little pairing button that you push on the JX10 to get the process started.

If, like me, you're over 40 and squinting at this thing through bifocals or you've got large fingers, good luck getting this button pressed.

The JX10's single LED is small and a lot more visible than the pairing button. It changes color to indicate low battery, pairing, charging, active call, etc.

When it comes to sound quality, the JX10 was great, even in noisy areas. It employs Digital Signal Processing technology that automatically adjusts the volume in noisy environments and features noise cancellation aimed at blocking background noise so that callers can hear you more clearly.

I had no problem hearing calls outdoors, and callers said I sounded fine, although I occasionally detected a slight hiss even though the JX10 was on the same side of my body as my cell phone, which Jabra recommends. It wasn't loud enough to interfere with a call, but noticeable enough to be annoying.

The JX10 complies with Bluetooth 1.2 and supports voice dial, hold and call-waiting, last number redial and reject call. It's rated for up to six hours of talk time, and 200 hours of standby.

Aside from the barely visible pairing button, I have a couple of other minor quibbles:

Initially, I found it a little tricky to get the thing properly aligned onto the charger cradle. And it was a little sticky, requiring a major tug to detach it.

The ear hook seems a little flimsy, so you have to wonder how it will hold up under rigorous use and abuse.

Those very small potatoes aside, the JX10's off the hook when it comes to comfort, style and ease of use.

The Jabra JX10's suggested retail price is $179, but a recent online check showed it selling for $80 to $179.

Warning: Once you've tried the tiny JX10, it'll be hard to go back to a bulkier headset.

Michelle Johnson is a freelance writer in Boston. Her e-mail address is mijohn@mail-me.com.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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