Hardware Review: Jaybird JB-200 Stereo Bluetooth Headset

Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅08:30 ©brainycat

Jaybird JB-200
Stereo Bluetooth headphones
Jaybird's website

I received the JB-200 headphones about a week ago, and I've been listening to them every day since. I wanted a pair of A2DP stereo headphones that were light, unobtrusive and not likely to fall out or bounce around while excercising. I've previously had the Motorola S9, and I didn't like them at all. The band across the back would catch on my collar and jam the earbuds toward the front of my skull, a singularly less than pleasant sensation. Also, they made a clicking noise every 4 seconds. I know it's not my blackberry, because other headphones didn't click.

After looking around on the web, I found the Jaybird JB-200. Marketed towards the mobile, excercising crowd, these were billed as the most unobtrusive, secure, waterproof bluetooth headphones available. I checked out some of the reviews, found that people generally liked them a lot,  so I bought a pair.

They arrived from Amazon in the retail bubble wrap. Included in the kit are the headphones, a charging stand, a 120v > usb adaptor, a usb cable and a mesh carrying case. I really liked the modular charging system; the wall adaptor has a permanent place in my laptop bag to charge any of my USB devices. The bag is handy, if not spectacularly well manufactured. It fits both these headphones and my corded phones easily, and slips into a coat pocket well.

The charging stand is supposed to be sleek and modern deco, but I find it too large and bulky. If there were a way to remove the stand, and leave the docking ports, I would be much happier. I may yet take a dremel tool to it and remove the base. Additionally, there's no positive response when the headphones are cradled properly. The charging light will come on, then turn off when it's fully charged. But adjusting the phones in the charger turns the phones' indicator LED back on for 5-10 minutes, I'm not sure what's happening there. It could be the phones are slipping out of place before they're fully charged, or the battery is signalling "full", but recalibrates itself when it reconnects. Either way, I'd rather have an LED on the charger indicating the state of the battery.

Some of the reviews I read online indicated the earbuds are uncomfortable. I find them very comfortable. They paired with my Blackberry 8300/4.5 without any problems at all. At first I thought there was something wrong with the antenna, as I was getting a lot of chop and drop. I tried pairing them to a Samsung fliphone, an HTC 8525 (Kaiser) and a Blackberry 9000 (Bold), and the sound and signal were flawless. I realized that the plastic protective case I have around my device is interfering with the signal. If I keep the device on my right side (the side the antenna is on) there is no signal interference.

The battery life is quite impressive. I charged it initially, it took about two hours. I let it play all night to drain the battery, then charged it again in about two hours. I've got about 3 hours of playtime into this charge so far, and it's still going strong.

Sound quality is probably my biggest issue. There's  no bass to speak of. Part of the problem, I believe, is my blackberry. The quality from the HTC 8525 was better, but only incrementally. Reviews on the net indicate that the bass is not very good on these headphones. The midranges are great, and the high end is a tad "scrunchy". Phone calls sound fine, though the sound only comes from the left side. I realize that phonecalls are mono, but it would be nice to pipe the audio to both sides.

All in all, I'm very happy with these headphones. They are light, stick in my ears, easy to use and stylish. The sound quality could be better in the lower range and the charging stand is bulky and uninformative. I willingly paid full retail, as I was not able to locate a discount anywhere, but knowing what I know now about the sound quality, I'd be willing to pay about US$70 for them.

5 thoughts provoked

 On Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅ 08:30 ©muehler spoke thusly: 

After I bought them, I was pretty disappointed. Indorrs they give decent sound, but outdoors they have real problems. The music seems to “speed up” and “slow down”, loses connection for a second or two frequently. Very annoying. After I returned them following instructions and using an RMA#, the factory “lost my package”. No refund. And they played dumb….so that’s it for me. Neither company nor product did what they told they would do.

 On Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅ 08:30 ©cat spoke thusly: 

That really sucks muehler. I’m glad I didn’t try to return mine. I find that the signal strength stays the same for me, no matter where I am. It seems to be entirely dependent on the vector between my blackberry and the antenna on the headset.

Did you find a pair that you liked?

 On Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅ 08:30 ©Mdme.S spoke thusly: 

First of all the person that designed these should be hobbled, then pinned to a wall with stakes through the hands while the horses are being readied for the drawing and quartering. To put it mildly, these suck dirty ass! They only work moderately if you are stationary and the signal still drops. Don’t even think about going out for a walk unless you truly enjoy the sounds of traffic, other people and occassionally nature.

Umm, that’s a double thumbs down, unless you’re into wasting your money.

 On Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅ 08:30 ©Arjun spoke thusly: 

have you tried altec lansing 903 ? i’m still on the fence which one to choose from between the two..
i heard, sound drops are occasional in altec’s while walking

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