New toy: Jabra BT250

by Volker Weber

jabra_250.jpgI bought a Jabra BT250 today. This is a change of mind. I was not too keen on using a Bluetooth headset, since Bluetooth can be "difficult". At home I use a wired headset for my office phone, and in the car I have a wired headset for the mobile phone. Neither requires a charge and they both literally are plug & play.

Snoopy however does not have a microphone-in (it does have a built-in mic), so I can only use regular headphones as I have done in the past, but that leaves me tethered to the iBook during calls. The Jabra is going to change this. Pairing the headset was a breeze. You hold the On button for 8 seconds and it goes into "discoverable" mode. You select the device from the Bluetooth Assistant in Mac OS X and enter the 0000 key. Now I only needed to switch Skype into using the Jabra for audio in and out and that was it. As you "dial" a call from Skype, the Mac connects to the headset and you can talk freely while roaming around the room. In theory the range can be as far as 10 meters but the sound quality drops considerably beyond 5 meters.

I also paired the Jabra with a number of mobile phones and that was equally easy. I understand that certain Nokias need a software update but all others that I tried work just nicely. Since the Mac or the phone calls the headset, you can pair it with more than one device. I was able to make a Skype call from the Mac with the Jabra headset although it was also paired with a mobile that was switched on right next to the iBook. I have no idea what happens if both want to connect. :-)

Battery life on the headset should be really good. Jabra claims 8 hours talk time or 240 hours of standby. It takes some practice to quickly wrap the headset over your ear but I am getting better. It weighs only 23 grams and does not feel uncomfortable at all. Now I know why I see so many Borg running around with one of those. You don't even care to take it off.

While pairing with the iBook and the mobile was easy, I was unable to connect to the iMac. It says that the Acer BT500 on the iMac does not support the headset profile. I need to check whether there is an update available.

Update: I can confirm that the Jabra works with both the iBook and the mobile phone. What you need to do is: First pair with the iBook using the headset profile. You do this by holding the On button on the Jabra. Then you pair with the mobile phone using the handsfree profile. You do this by holding both the On and the Volume Up buttons. Turn off the Jabra before pairing. After you have paired both devices they can all be on. Skype will connect to the Jabra automatically as needed. For incoming calls on the mobile, the phone will connect to the Jabra. For outgoing calls you press the On button once. Now that is all I need. :-)

Comments

I have the same headset that I use with my BlackBerry 7290. I've been very pleased with it's clarity, ease of use and the battery life. Putting it on your ear does take practice. To avoid embarrassment, this should be done for hours in private before venturing out in public.

Tony Kelleran, 2005-02-14 17:44

I have the predecessor BT 200 and I am also pleased with it. It connects to my old T68i and also to my new Sendo X without any problems. The sound quality is really good. Most of the time I use it in my car, I don't like to be wired there and it works fine. Now I will try to use it with Skype too. Thanks for that hint.

Frank Stangenberg, 2005-02-14 18:06

I have mine almost a year now. Great piece of kit.

Paul Mooney, 2005-02-14 18:23

Added to the "gadget wish list", where it replaces a generic "Bluetooth Headset" entry. Such a recommendation record certainly makes me look for one of these.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-02-14 18:52

Silly question, but can you "wear" this headset on both ears? May preferred phone-side ist left, btw :-)

Dirk Olbertz, 2005-02-14 19:34

Not a silly question at all.

The headset is symmetric, so yes you can wear it on both ears. However, you plug one of four differently shaped gels onto the headset. And those stick out on one side. Thus you wear it on your left ear OR on your right ear, depending on how you put the gel on.

Volker Weber, 2005-02-14 19:40

Toys like that rule. Ordered a Sonyericsson/ Akono HBH-300 last week. The expected borg-factor is much higher than the Jabra's. Only planning on using it indoors, though.

Joerg Richter, 2005-02-14 20:24

Volker: There is a bluetooth firmware update flotaing around somewhere in the Apple knowledgebase. You probably want to apply that to your iMac. First experiments with bluetooth hardware on my PowerBook failed and after applying the BT update everything went fine.

Regards,
/k

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2005-02-14 23:49

BTW, where did you buy it and what did you pay for it?

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2005-02-14 23:50

The BT250 currently sells for 50 EUR on eBay. The Apple firmware updater is probably not going to touch the Acer device. But I will check software versions nevertheless.

Volker Weber, 2005-02-15 00:19

Volker, I've tried to use its predecessor (the BT 200) with my PowerBook, and it didn't connect. That's a pity! Probably also a firmware issue. I would be glad to hear if you are successful with your iMac.
I have no Idea about updating the firmware or which firmware version is currently installed on the PowerBook, but it's a 2004 12" PowerBook with build in bluetooth (so it *should* work).

-Mo.

Moritz Petersen, 2005-02-15 09:17

Joerg, I have one of those Akono HBH-300 headsets (I even wrote a small review on my website). Until now I thought that I could only use it with my T630, however, Volker has once more shown us the road !! I'll try it this evening with my powerbook.

And yes, the borg factor (flashing green led on the side, slower or faster depending on battery charge) is huge - a bit overwhelming actually, as I hardly dare use it in the train - I keep getting these stares from strangers directed at me, and they don't stop staring until I end the call. I started to get a Frankenstein feeling, so I am more discreet now in using it.

I am a bit disappointed in it, though - outdoor usage is only possible when it is windstill - a little bit of wind is enough to generate 'howl' noise. Anybody else have the same problem ?

Alex Boschmans, 2005-02-15 10:46

Moritz, make sure you install the Bluetooth Firmware Updater 1.2 and Bluetooth 1.5 (assuming you are on 10.3.x) from Apple's support page.

Volker Weber, 2005-02-15 11:12

Vowe, thanks I'll give it a try. I always thought, that the Bluetooth Firmware Updater and the latest Bluetooth version would be included in the various System / Securety updates...

-Mo.

Moritz Petersen, 2005-02-15 13:40

@Alex: that's an interesting observation. I thought the noise cancelling function would filter noise caused by wind. Its possible to answer a call from the phone, not the headset while one is connected. Just use the accept button on the phone instead of the headset. Works with my Sonyericsson phone and BT car handsfree.

Joerg Richter, 2005-02-15 14:07

@Joerg : Per regards to the noice canceling, I thought so too when I read the blurb on the box - but my girlfriend tells me she has trouble understanding me when I am standing outside in what I feel as a light breeze. Any strong wind gusts makes my talking unintelligible.

Also, callers notice a big drop on sound quality between me using the headset and the phone (outside more than inside).
Of course, that might be all the gadgets that I carrying around outside in my heavy windproof coat (palm, usb key, keys, phone, change,... plenty of metal).

Outside I even lost connection once when cupping my hand over the BT headset, however, this only happened once.

Alex Boschmans, 2005-02-15 15:12

@Volker: Hat Apple das Mikrofon in späteren iBooks weggelassen? Mein gutes altes G3/700 iBook jedenfalls hat eins.

Oliver Stör, 2005-02-15 22:53

Das iBook hat ein Mikrofon, aber keinen Mikrofoneingang, an den man ein Headset anschliessen kann. Skype funktioniert auch recht gut mit Kopfhörer und dem eingebauten Mikro.

Volker Weber, 2005-02-15 23:28

Aber wohl nicht mehr aus 5 Meter Entfernung ;-)

Oliver Regelmann, 2005-02-16 00:59

Volker,

Where you able to get the Jabra to work with iChat? I would assume so since you were able to get it to work with Skype, but I thought I would ask just to be sure.

Ken Porter

Ken Porter, 2005-02-18 16:45

Thanks Volke! Your update enabled me to finally pair my Jabra 250 with my Powerbook (the distinction between the headset and handsfree profiles is key).

Berta Liao, 2005-05-22 01:03

Hi there, just reading the comments with interest. I have a BT350, which has been good, but the audio can be difficult when there is high background noise. I also lose the ear gels fast.. I have been wondering about getting an HBH-300 to try and solve this.
The wind noise problem is an interesting one, as I suffer from this a lot (almost always some wind here in Iceland..). I have just tried putting the foam microphone sheild from my wired headset at work on the end of my BT350, so we will see if this does the trick..

Richard Yeo, 2005-06-06 13:46

hallo volker,
habe problem mit powerbook g4 bt>bt headset sony hbh 600> skype bzw. x-lite....

es funktioniert ca 1-2 anrufe, danach ist schluss, es kommen die fehlermeldungen:
1. "....es wird bereits 1 bluetoothgerät benutzt..." " 2. " verbindung fehlgeschlagen....

nach neustart wieder dasselbe... anscheinend gibt es probleme das headset wieder in den standby modus zu schalten da in der menueleiste beim auflegen des softphones weiter
die gestrichelte linie (für verbindung?) im bt icon weiter besteht. seltsam ist allerdings das in den systemerweiterungen keine verbindung mehr angezeigt wird!

habe es ebenfalls mit einem jabra headset versucht> selbe probleme
beide headset an einem anderen powerbook> selbe probleme

habe system 10.4.4> bt software version: 1.7.0f18 >bt firmware 3.1792
benutze das interne apple bt modul
wo kann das problem liegen? vertragen sich x-lite und skype nicht (habe natürlich beide einzeln probiert...) wäre sehr dankbar für support. bitte erklärung in german.

mfg tim

Hi i just bought the jabra 250 and was just wondering .I have 2 nokia 6230 phones one for work and a personal one can i use the jabra with 2 phones at the same time? Cheers.

paul cox, 2006-04-04 14:56

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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