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Jabra’s new BT8040 Bluetooth wireless headset adds a number of innovative features, proving once again that the company is not about to give up its place at the top of its market.
Bluetooth wireless headsets are all the rage these days — you know for sure when they adorn not only the heads of young professionals, but also when people old enough to be your grandparents have one.
Jabra’s BT8040 headset is one of the smallest I’ve ever used, and it packs a big punch in a tiny package. Using Jabra’s ear gel tip, it takes a few tries and a bit of tweaking to get it comfortably inside your ear. But like a new pair of shoes, it breaks in eventually. The device measures a mere 1.5 inches long, which barely reaches my sideburn — that’s tiny.
Yet despite its size, during my two weeks of using the device, not a single person on the other end could tell I was on a headset. The noise cancellation features touted in this new offering are quite exceptional — though my 3-year-old singing about Thomas the Tank Engine in the next room clearly broke through.
Another very pleasant surprise is battery life. Jabra’s specifications indicate six hours of talk time and more than eight days standby; I achieved that or slightly better. The charging time is also brief: less than an hour (but I don’t know precisely how brief, because every time I charged it, when I checked back, it was good to go).
As with most of today’s Bluetooth devices, the Jabra BT8040 was easy to pair up with my cell phone. But unlike most devices, the BT8040 sports multipoint technology, which allows pairing with as many as eight devices and with two devices simultaneously. That’s right — it can pair up to both your personal and work cell phones at the same time, and you can answer calls from either.
Top four most-important features of wireless headsets:
1. High-quality audio
2. Active-noise reduction
3. Long battery life
4. Low weight
It also is one of the first — I haven’t found another — to include support for the Advanced Audio Distribution Protocol (A2DP). This protocol lets you stream audio from your paired devices to the headset. It also includes a nifty interrupt feature that stops the music while you’re on a call.
Of course, there is always room for improvement. If you’re as much an audiophile as I am, streaming music over a mono headset won’t thrill you. I always pull out the stereo headphones when I want to dive into some Pink Floyd. So while Jabra touts the A2DP technology, it isn’t all that useful to me.
On most calls, the remote user still sounds a little like they’re talking through a tin can. This happened on both my cell phones, and it’s happened to me before on Bluetooth headsets. I guess I was hoping for an improvement over my previous experiences.
Finally, while the noise cancellation is quite good (and maybe I’m getting picky here), it’s not “wind tunnel” good. If I’m in my car driving home, the window still needs to be up. Otherwise, my caller wonders if there’s a tornado nearby. Maybe it’s a little too much to expect a device that doesn’t even reach my cheekbone to perform miracles, but the Jabra BT8040 comes pretty close.
CDW Price: $75.99
Dr. Jeffrey Sheen is the lead enterprise analyst for Grange Mutual Casualty Group of Columbus, Ohio.