Before diving into this review, keep in mind my standard disclaimer: I know practically nothing about tech stuff. I use gadgets like I use my car: I know how to turn them on and operate them, but I really have no idea how they function, or what distinguishes good components from bad ones. And honestly, I kind of prefer it that way.
So when I was contacted about testing a couple of Bluetooth devices, obviously I was a little bit intimidated. Under normal circumstances I would have declined, but then fate intervened – unfortunately, it was in the form of a California Highway Patrolman.
Here’s the short version: I formerly had a small flip phone that I used to put in my lap and use on the speaker setting while driving. Then I got a company-issued smart phone, but the speaker volume was horribly low, and its reception with my old Bluetooth was terrible. Consequently, I couldn’t use the speaker setting or my Bluetooth while driving. More consequently, one day I got a ticket for talking on my phone. Arrrrgh.
Suddenly I was in the market for a Bluetooth, and the e-mail from Jabra just happened to fall in my inbox. I took it as some sort of outlaw karma, and agreed to test two devices: the Jabra SPORT and Jabra CLIPPER. They both work far better than my old Bluetooth – the difference is like day and night, really – and are quite easy to use. They’re also geared toward active use as well as just driving around town - as evidenced by their recently signing Ironman champion Craig Alexander as a spokesman – and are especially suited for combining music and phone access during long workouts.
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Here’s some techy info on the devices: both the SPORT and CLIPPER are compatible with Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices. They use Bluetooth wireless technology with an A2DP profile (don’t worry, I had to look up what that means too), and have U.S. military grade rain, dust, and shock protection. They both have Advance Multi-use capability that allows them to connect to 2 devices simultaneously.
Jabra SPORT is a wireless Bluetooth and stereo headset for streaming music and phone calls. It’s a dual-ear system connected by a slim wire that you wear behind your neck. If you don’t have a music player nearby, the SPORT has an integrated FM radio receiver so you can scroll the dial for your favorite station. The sound quality for music is quite good, with surround sound technology and something called an AM3D Power Bass Boost for the lower ranges. All of the controls for answer/end call, play/pause, volume up/down, skip track, and workout pause are on the headset and easy to reach during activity. A single charge will last for 4.5 hours of talk time or 3 hours of music.
The SPORT has a wind-shielded microphone that protects your voice quality while on the go; I’ve used it on my mountain bike and in my car with the sunroof open, and been able to carry on conversations in both situations without the person on the other end griping about not being able to understand me. There are three different shapes of eargels to help you get your best individual fit on the receiving end.
If you really want to geek out with this, the SPORT also comes with a free download of the Endomondo Sports Tracker app, allowing you to track your workouts online – speed, distance, route mapping, all that jazz - once you’re finished. As you might have guessed, I didn’t use this, but it sounds kind of cool if that’s your thing.
Jabra’s CLIPPER is somewhat different in that it’s a small clip-on device that attaches to your shirt or jacket. It has noise-blocking in-ear headphones to enhance sound quality, with 3 different size gels for optimum fit. It can also be used with alternate headphones through a 3.5mm jack. Battery life is better than the SPORT, with a single charge lasting for 6 hours of talk time or 4 hours of music.
All of the controls for phone and music are on the clip, and the CLIPPER can automatically switch between your music and incoming calls to your phone. It also has a mobile distance alert to warn you if you’re fading out of range (approximately 10m) of your device while getting lost in the music. When using the phone, voice quality is fairly good, but from my testing not quite as clear as the SPORT.
Comparing the two, I’d say that the SPORT works better as an active phone device, and the CLIPPER has the edge as a music player. The CLIPPER doesn’t have any uploading capability, so if you’re looking for workout tracking, the SPORT is the way to go. The Jabra SPORT normally retails for $99 but is discounted to $87 at Amazon.com, and the CLIPPER retails for $60 but is significantly discounted to $40 at Amazon.com.
*Products provided by Jabra. Affiliate sales support Running and Rambling.
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