Jabra Is Ready to Answer Your Bluetooth Call

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- If you think the smartphone market is impossible to navigate, try making sense of the ridiculously crowded Bluetooth wireless headset market. It is not bad enough that headset makers such as Plantronics ( PLT), Sennheiser, Bose and Jawbone make tons of these way-geeky ear-mounted modules, but phone giants such as Nokia ( NOK), Motorola ( MOT) and LG also have no shame about crowding into the Bluetooth headset game. So recommending the right business wireless device is a bit like recommending the right kitten. They're nice, but there are lots of 'em.

So when the folks over at GN Netcom, the makers of Jabra headsets, told me that their latest model, the Jabra Supreme ($99) was one of the best of the litter, well ... that is just the kind of trash talk that gets my attention.
The Jabra Supreme means you might just be able to hold your next conference inside your ear.

And considering that business headsets make the top of everyone's holiday gadget list, I arranged for a demo.

So was the Supreme actually supreme? Let's find out.

What you get
This is a surprisingly good business headset at a reasonable price.

Even with all the hype, I have to say the Jabra Supreme is a solid, business-ready wireless headset. Roughly the size of my mother's Toyota Prius smart key, and about half of the weight, the Supreme is a high-quality matte black lozenge with an over-ear clip that hangs atop your hearing canal. The unit's boom mic, which lives folded up, is easy enough to use. Flip it open, hang it over your ear, press one of the easy-to-use function buttons and, assuming your device is paired to your phone, you are speaking wirelessly.

And the Supreme is supremely loaded with techno features: It has sophisticated active nois-reduction technology similar to what you get with airplane headphones and the ability to stream media and listen to music from your mobile device. It supports two phones, which was actually rather handy. And it comes with an automated attendant built in that prompts you when the phone is paired, when it is ready for a call and, if it is set up right, even who is calling.

But most importantly, I found voice quality to be high for a single-ear unit. Calls were not only clear and professional sounding, but the Supreme significantly improved the performance of voice-recognition software -- particularly in noisy environments such as your car.

What you don't get
I'm afraid this is not the top tier in pure headset performance.

Now look, the Jabra Supreme is perfectly good. Maybe even great. But there are several issues. All this ease-of-use and high audio quality come at a price.

This thing is simply huge by Bluetooth headphone standards. I found the over-ear setup perfectly comfortable, but I am old and bald. Those of you who are not, particularly ladies with hair issues, may find this unit impossible to deal with. And you will absolutely need to be comfortable channeling your inner Uhura (you know, from the original Star Trek) if you sport this thing. We are talking working-at-McDonald's big.

Next, while sound quality was good, it really is nowhere near a legitimate, wired, two-ear headset, even at a third of the cost. So if you seek true mobile high fidelity, this is not your solution.

Bottom line
Overall, the Jabra Supreme is worth a listen if you are considering a single-ear headset upgrade this holiday season. I found it a solid performer in most business telephony functions. And it will certainly help you get on the right side of the hands-free driving laws. Just keep in mind, it is most definitely not the ultimate mobile talking and listening tool for business.

We all are still in the fog, listening for that elusive holy mobile grail.

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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