Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Jaybird SB2 Bluetooth Headset Review

I have been working out a lot to make my fat deposits ready for Christmas – plus I have a back condition that goes from painful to life crippling if I do not give it some training.

But I do find training boring – extremely boring. So I bring my iPad – and use the time to watch news via Slingbox/Slingplayer – or stupid TV series.SB2MB-300

But being caught up in a cord between iPad and my ears is not my favourite position. Especially on Treadmill or rowing machine it is not so safe. So I started out with a Jabra Bluetooth headset where I could attach any type of headphones. The unit looked pretty solid and robber coated – but that lasted only about 2 weeks before it died. Died by sweat ingestion.

Jaybird SB2 Sportsband Bluetooth Headset

So I started researching Bluetooth Headsets for sports. Unfortunately there are not a lot available. But the company Jaybird specializes in Bluetooth headsets for sports. So I decided to try them first. So I ordered the “over the head” SB2 model and the older JB-200. Review of the JB-200 will follow later on.

I ordered the Jaybird SB2 online from Jaybird directly. Everything went smoothly but they are not fast to ship. It took them quite a while to get out of the door. But eventually I got it. Customer service while ordering was not very good. I tried to add some ear pads 10 minutes after putting in the order – but their order system would not let me change the order. And their support was absolutely no help at all. So big minus so far on Speed and Customer service.

Then the headset arrived. You get the headset and a USB charger cable with it. But the Jaybird SB2 uses a very old fashioned very thin “pin” based charger in the headphones. I have not seen any of those since my old V-Tech Bluetooth headset. So if you loose your charger cable – you will not be able to find one one in a high street shop. Why they did not use a Micro or Mini USB I do not know.

If you look at the picture – the headset looks very attractive. Well images are lie. The headset is plastic – with a genuine “China” plastic feel to it. It just feels cheap. It fits okay on the head – but it is heavy.

Pairing with iPhone and iPad was no problem. With iOS 4.2 you can use the headsets full feature set – and they worked quite well. You turn on the headset and it automatically connects to the iPad. No issues.

Jaybird and me of to the Gym

So off the the first gym sessions. And the headset preforms well. A little low on bass but apart from that sound quality is good. After 1 1/2 hours in the gym – I start to feel the hard and sharp edges of the headset band pressing on the top of my skull. But everything works. I was quite happy to have found something that works and is sweat resistant. It stayed on even while running – and felt quite stable.  Call quality was okay on the iPhone – and volume adjusted up and down quite nicely.

After about 2 weeks of happy use – suddenly the headsets volume buttons started playing up. Volume down worked but not volume up. That rendered the headset useless. No way to get volume back up equals not a lot of sound. I guess it might be sweat – so I left it to dry and used another Bluetooth headset for a couple of days. After 4 days the volume-up button started to work again – so I took the Jaybird SB2 to the gym – and hey presto – after about 20 minutes – the headset just died completely. Not a squeak or sound coming from it and it would not turn on.

I left it to dry – for about 2 weeks. And it still looks like it charges – but it still does not turn on. Sweat damage I guess. I could send it back for repair – but since I am in the middle east – just shipping it back will cost about $50,- which is half the price of the headset. Jaybird have a “limited lifetime” sweat guarantee on the SB2. But read the fine print.

Conclusion on Jaybird SB2 and Jaybird store

So can I recommend the SB2 – no – not at all. Can I recommend Jaybird store direct – No not at all. If you want to get a SB2 – fine. But find a retailer locally that stocks them. Make certain that they will exchange the SB2 without hassles if (when) it dies.

So my quest for a Bluetooth sweat resistant headset is still going on. Recommendations anyone?

Coming reviews: Jaybird SB-200 and Plantronics 903+ (plus) “behind the ears/neck” headset.