- Bluetooth speakerphone, has all the functions of a Bluetooth headset, 20 hour battery life
- Too large to be portable, not well designed, poor microphone implementation
We have taken quite a liking to Jabra products in the past, but this particular unit comes up lacking in many respects
Price$ 165.00 (AUD)
Jabra traditionally make Bluetooth headsets, so were intrigued when we heard about the SP500 - essentially a Bluetooth speakerphone for your mobile - and expecting big things.
In our testing of Bluetooth headsets, we have found a number of problems. They can be too large or too small, too loud or not loud enough and almost without exception, many of them are uncomfortable to wear and often attract strange stares from passers-by. While the SP500 won't actually solve any of those problems, it does free you up from wearing a headset, as its designed to sit on a desk or be placed in a car, rather than behind your ear.
For use in an office, the SP500 can be placed on a desk, much like a speakerphone. For car use, there are two mounting options - a suction cup for the windscreen, or a clip for the visor. While the clip worked well enough on our visors, we would recommend the suction cup, as a device this heavy falling of the visor will manage to give you a hefty knock on the head if it falls.
While Jabra has impressed us in the past with the stylish JX10, the SP500 isn't the most appealing piece of hardware we've seen. First off, it's quite large and a protruding boom mic doesn't help. This limits the portability of the unit, as you won't be able to carry it around with you comfortably. Secondly, it lacks the usual slick design of other Jabra products we have reviewed in the past.
We paired the SP500 with our Nokia 6230 for our testing. What we liked most about the SP500 is that in terms of operations, it possesses exactly the same functions as a Bluetooth headset. We were expecting many features to be missing, but the SP500 supports voice dialing, last number redial, muting calls, swapping calls and rejecting calls.
As with most Bluetooth devices, there is one main Call button which performs most of the functions of the SP500, such as answering, ending or rejecting calls. A volume dial and mute button are one side, while the pairing button and power input are on the top.
Interestingly, the SP500 uses two inbuilt rechargeable batteries. This allows it to have 20 hours of battery life and usefully, it can be charged from a wall socket or in your car. The device can also be used while it's being charged, meaning Jabra has really put some thought into ensuring you can get the most out of the unit.
In terms of sound quality, we found this unit suffered from the same constraints as most other headsets. On some calls, the quality was excellent, but other callers noticed a slight echo. We also found that the microphone didn't pick up sound from more than a few metres away which limits its use as a speakerphone. In fact, we didn't much like the microphone at all and real issues with. Not only does it look odd, but it doesn't function well either, and if you had plans of using the SP500 as a speakerphone, we found you had to turn it so the mic is facing you if you want to speak. Not particularly practical.
According to the manual, the SP500 can be placed into 'Office' mode, but we couldn't discern a major difference in terms of the quality. While perhaps those who would prefer not to use Bluetooth headsets may pick up one of these units, we can't really see a large market out there for a product such as this, especially as most mobiles now ship with in-built speakerphones as standard.
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