Bluetooth Headset Head to Head: BlackBerry HS-500 vs. Jawbone Prime

HS-500 v Jawbone Prime
By Jared DiPane on 22 Dec 2009 10:21 am EST
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Local laws changed? Time to buckle down and buy yourself a Bluetooth headset to avoid a silly traffic ticket for talking on your BlackBerry while driving your car? The hunt for a headset can be a difficult task since there are so many colors, styles, brands and price points that are currently available. Let's take some time to take a look at two great headsets that are highly rated.

A while back we reviewed the Jawbone Prime, and now we are going to take it and see how it holds up against the BlackBerry HS-500 headset. Now you may think to yourself at this point, there is no comparison, the Jawbone will blow the BlackBerry headset out of the water, but before making any assumptions, let's review the facts and compare.

Packaging:

Let's take a look at the packaging and its contents as a starting point. You will notice a few stand out differences between the two right off the bat, but remember, don't always judge a book by its cover. The Jawbone Prime is presented in a rectangular plastic container which showcases just the headset and hides the rest of the accessories behind the advertisements, while the BlackBerry HS-500 uses the more standardized packaging like many other headsets. Now what's inside these packages you may ask, so now let's get into that.

Jawbone Prime

Jawbone Prime:

  • 1 Jawbone Prime Bluetooth Headset
  • 1 Standard Earloop
  • 1 Premium Earloop (Leather Wrapped)
  • 3 Standard Earbuds (Small, Medium and Large)
  • 3 Earbuds with Extension (Small, Medium and Large)
  • 1 USB Charging Cable
  • 1 Wall Charger
  • User Welcome Guide and Safety Information
BlackBerry HS-500

BlackBerry HS-500

  • 1 BlackBerry HS-500 Bluetooth Headset
  • 2 Standard Earloops (Small and Large)
  • 3 Standard Earbuds (Small, Medium and Large)
  • 1 Car Charger (Micro USB)
  • User Welcome Guide and Safety Information

I would say point one goes to the Jawbone Prime for the packaging, but users are after call quality, not packaging of these units, so now on to look at the functionality of these two great devices.

Now that we got each unit out of its packaging, it's time to charge them up and check them out. One of the things that immediately caught my attention about each of these units was the chargers that came in the packaging. The BlackBerry HS-500 only comes with a car charger, which is not always convenient for everyone, unless always on the go. While the unit only comes with a car charger, the positive side of this is that it does take the same charger as any of the newer BlackBerry models, the Micro-USB. The Jawbone Prime on the other hand has a proprietary charger that it uses, and only comes with a wall charger. This is good for most, but for some that are on the go, or use it heavily, they will have to shell out another $30 to purchase the car charger. Both devices offer a LED indicator that will blink during the charge to notify you it is charging, and then the light becomes solid once the unit has fully charged.

After charging the units, it was time to make some calls after pairing them to my BlackBerry. Pairing both of these headsets was a breeze, the device recognized them with no problem, and I was ready to go in about 30 seconds. In pairing mode, both units blink alternating colors to let your know it's in a discoverable mode, and can be paired to your device. Once paired, the unit will just blink one color to indicate that the unit is powered on. Personally, I was incredibly impressed that the BlackBerry HS-500 uses the same LED colors as your BlackBerry Smartphone, and the LED is actually placed conveniently at the bottom of the unit, so it is not visibly blinking off the side of your face all day. One of the biggest differences I noticed with these two units is that the BlackBerry HS-500 actually has a power switch on it, while the Jawbone has no buttons.

side by side

Now the headsets have been paired with the device, it's time to put them to the test and see what kind of results come about. Let's start with the ease of use. Most people would think it's just a headset; you answer your calls by pressing the button, and end it by pressing it again, but these headsets actually offer more features then shown. I was extremely surprised at how many features the very basic looking BlackBerry Hs-500 headset had to offer. Aside from the standard one press to answer the call, while in a call if you press it two times it will mute the call, or if you have another incoming call it will switch to the other call. The device offers many other features based on the combination of button presses for different durations of time. The Jawbone Prime on the other hand has no power switch; you would just press and hold the answer/end button until an audible alert is heard indicating it has been powered off. Along with the answer/end hidden button, there is also the Noise Assassin button, which doubles up as the volume switch, the biggest downfall is that it is only a singular button, so no easy way to go up and down in volume from the headset. Enough about the background of these units, let's move on to call quality and check how that battery holds up on each for you heavy users.

Many brands use talk time as a draw to their unit, hoping consumers will purchase their equipment over the competition, but I know I have always been a little skeptical of how realistic the numbers are. After giving each unit a full charge over night, it was time to see how they held up during both talk time and stand by time.

Jawbone Prime:

  • Talk Time: 4.5 hours
  • Standby Time: 200 hours
  • BlackBerry HS-500:
  • Talk Time: 5.5 Hours
  • Standby Time: 120 Hours

The results I noticed from testing were very similar to these, of course depending upon usage habits, user results will vary. Personally, when the headset will not be used for a period of time, I turn it off instead of using the standby time of the battery.

A very important feature of any Bluetooth headset will be the comfort of the piece while in use. The last thing you would want would be a headset that is heavy, bulky or just no way to make it comfortable. Both the Jawbone Prime and BlackBerry HS-500 offer owners a few different size earpiece fittings so that owners are able to decide which size fits their ear best and offers maximum comfort. While the Jawbone Prime is actually lighter, .35oz compared to the .53oz of the BlackBerry HS-500, I found the BlackBerry HS-500 to be more comfortable for a long period of use. The Jawbone Prime, and the technology behind it, requires the headset to be resting against your cheek, so at times constant adjustment is needed to ensure it is correctly placed, so it can sense the vibrations from your jawbone. On the other hand, the BlackBerry HS-500 fits very comfortably in the ear, and the ear loop is adjustable in height, which allows you to place it in a position that fits you comfortably. Neither of the two headsets were in anyway uncomfortable, but personally if I had to pick one for daily use based on comfort I would lean towards the BlackBerry HS-500.

side by side

So the headset could be amazingly comfortable, but if the call quality is no good, then what's the point? Most of the time that a Bluetooth is useful to me is in my car, so it is very important for it to have great background noise reduction, so the person that I am speaking to doesn't hear the wind and highway noises. This is where the devices were put to the true test, and the results were rather surprising to me. Honestly, I had thought based on the technology used in the Jawbone Prime that it would blow the BlackBerry HS-500 out of the water in call quality but I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Most of my driving to and from work is highway, with lots of traffic, trucks and wind, so it was perfect to put these things to the test.

Experience with the Jawbone Prime:

Day One

  • First call placed with no background music and windows up on the highway, no complaint of background noise, and call quality was excellent
  • Second call added music in the background, other party couldn't even tell music was playing, call quality remained excellent
  • Third call rolled windows down driving on highway with heavy traffic, other party could tell I was in a car, but no complaints of loud background noise, or call distortion.

Extended Usage

  • Noticed that some areas the quality was spotty, noticed buzzing and crackling in the headset on my end, not the other parties end though
  • Noticed that there is no "perfect" headset volume for myself, one seems to low, the other too high, and no in the middle.

Experience with the BlackBerry HS-500

Day One

  • First call with no background music and windows up on the highway, caller thought I was sounded better then when talking on just the device.
  • Second call added music in the background; caller could not tell music was playing, except when I was talking a faint sound in the distance, but no complaints unless asked.
  • Third call with windows down on the highway during rush hour and the caller could not tell that I was in traffic or that 18 wheelers were speeding past me.

Extended Usage

  • Noticed that call quality remained the same at all times, didn't experience any areas with degraded sound on either end.
  • Was able to find a volume that was very comfortable, not too loud, nor soft.

So after so quality time with both headsets, and going back and forth between them for days, I came to the conclusion that my personal preference was the BlackBerry HS-500. Yes, this may sound crazy because everyone knows the Jawbone name and their quality, but from my experience the BlackBerry HS-500 was just as reliable and I noticed no sound quality difference in any location or at any time like I did with the Jawbone Prime. So what are you waiting for? Head over to our store and pick on up now.

60 comments

2repou

Now, can I have one?

j8lacy

jawbone is better no comp...

beamolite

Have you even tried the BlackBerry bluetooth?

Diggs31

I had Jawbone and I experience everything the reviewer said...I haven't tried the blackberry one but my blueant has been very good to me

ilhe1s

These are valid points that I have experienced.

Extended Usage

* Noticed that some areas the quality was spotty, noticed buzzing and crackling in the headset on my end, not the other parties end though
* Noticed that there is no "perfect" headset volume for myself, one seems to low, the other too high, and no in the middle.

RickyRoss10

...to wear the HS-500 without the earloop like the Prime?

Jared DiPane

yes, you are able to depending on how comfortable it is to you. the piece is removable and adjustable in height (unlike any other i have ever used)

dres79

i always got less feedback from people i spoke to about the BB headset then the jawbone ...

planoman

That is why I love my Jawbone Prime. I have a personal BB and a corporate one. The jawbone allows for pairing of both to take and receive call on both with one device.

Tree1719

Yes you can have it paired with two phones at once.

djcgmcse

Just get a motorolla T505 and be done with it. Thing works awesome and no dealing with shit attached to your head.

mkurz12

Really glad to see this review.
I had the second gen Jawbone and it was great until I was in a car accident and it hit the front wind shield and ended up in the way back of my Jeep. Didn't find it for 2 days. Thought it must have went out the window or somehting.

Anyway upon finding it and putting it back to use it was not working as well as it was prior. Understandable though.

I found myself a Blue Ant Q1 on sale on Newegg for $44.99. Much lower than the hundred or so bucks I have seen it for every where else. Unfortunately that thing just won't stay in my ear. I have even gone and purchased other ear buds that happeened to fit as the ones they offer just don't stay in my ear. The call qlty was always great but it would literally sit in my ear for a few minutes and then just pop out on it's own while I am driving. Unacceptable!

Being that the call quality was so much better on the Blue Ant I couldn't see myself going back to a Jawbone. Also I have sideburns and the little tab rarely stayed on my face to use the noise assassin technology.

Looks like I will be giving the BB model a try. I have been holding off for sometime now and am looking forward to picking it up...right after the holidays...cause I AM BROKE!

Zolutar

After my Jawbone prime was stolen in a recent car break in, I picked up the BlackBerry HS-500 out of curiosity. I really liked my jawbone but wasnt overly impressed and the store rep had mentioned the HS-500 had been getting good feedback from customers and not to mention was retailing for considerably less than the Jawbone. I have to say I love the headset. The reviewer here has it exactly like I found it, never has anyone complained of not hearing me because of background noise or wind like I had with the jawbone.
Great review!
Viva la BlackBerry HS-500!!

CaDesertBerry

except i'll stick with my built in bluetooth in my acura. No one knows i'm in the car. My second car has a jabra sp700 bluetooth speakerphone on the visor that works great and streams music via the FM radio as a bonus. Both units allow the user to have both ear canals open, meaning i can hear everything around me without distortion (i.e. people talking to me, firetrucks, horns, etc)and i don't have to have anything sticking out of my ear calling attention to that fact that i have a phone (that's so 90's!)

phoneboy101

I think your Acura costs a bit more than even the Jawbone. I stopped using Bluetooth in my Acura because dialing out was so difficult. I dial almost exclusively through my stored contacts. If I dial out on the phone keypad instead of the voice control in the car, I have to wait for the call to connect, then switch the call from handset to the car. Argh!

I think you got your decades mixed up. Bluetooth headsets weren't in common use until about 2000-2002.

delsolracing

Great review/comparison. I like especially that the HS-500 has A2DP and I don't believe the Jawbone has this. Something that I need in a headset.

Sucks that I just ordered a different headset. Guess i will try it out and see how it works, if it sucks I will have to go with the HS-500.

USP45

I'm a relatively new BB owner; but, so far the speakerphone on these devices seems so awesome and loud why even use a headset?

(not trying to start something haha, just sincerely curious)

RealEstateJeff

In some places (like here in Ontario), you now get fined for talking on your phone handset while driving. I think it's $500 :\

phoneboy101

-When you're in a loud setting and can't hear the speakerphone
-When you're in a setting where you don't want others around you to hear the caller on the other end
-When you're in a mobile situation with hands full and don't have a place to set the phone for effective speakerphone operation

...to name a few.

The speakerphone is awesome on BB's. It kills my iPhone.

21ce

Eventhough the caller may not have known what was which these test seems extremely biased. Although you cannot help but to add your own opinion in a review, it seems you were very eager to prove the blackberry headset as a competent matchup to the Jawbone. Your favored headset shows in how you wrote this article, before even reading into the results.

protaganis

I've had jawbone's, motorola's and jabra's. Recently I got an Invisio G5. Good audio (incoming and outgoing) easy to use. Smaller than the new jawbones and has a charger case that gives it 20+ hours talk time. Last time I had a headset that did that was with a AAA powered jabra. Looks more stylish than the jabra did too.

CrackleBerryMound

Everyone who wears a bluetooth headset looks 100% stupid, and they act pretty stupid also. Noticed that? Must be a genetic flaw in the gene pool that has these folks gravitating towards these earpieces.

Ever seen a normal person wear one? Me neither :) Many even have this scary tendency of pulling their pants up too high on their hips giving us the male equivalent of camel toe.

They just love yapping out extra loud like they're talking into a can-and-string contraption, and seem totally oblivious to that stranger 1 ft to their left spraying him with spit and verbal bullshyt.

It's better to be cool. I much prefer to go au naturale, kickin it old skool...

Cyrilmak

You sir need some genetic help your self. Moron.

phoneboy101

Idiot.

"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt." -Twain

It is better to wear a Bluetooth headset and appear stupid to some, than to make sweeping, insulting generalizations and prove yourself to be stupid to all.

I'm no Mark Twain, but it works.

jes2

Hmmm....

Seems to me that it's the clowns that whip out the new cellphone and start talking at a volume of 9 out of 10 in a restaurant or at work that are the stupid ones...

I can talk with my Jabra 2040 or Motorola 720 at a normal level of volume. No yelling or spitting allowed here.

But, Cap'n Au Naturale, I can also drive quite safely using a headset. On the other hand, I'll bet you're the type that doesn't move when the traffic light turns green (because you're too busy yakking on the phone), wanders all over the road trying to dial a number, or is the type that drives 10 miles under the speed limit, kickin it old skool while you yadda-yadda on the phone, until you notice the traffic light ahead is turning yellow, whereupon you punch the accelerator and speed through the intersection, leaving a long line of ticked off drivers behind, stuck at the light....

Yep.

Kickin it ol' skool. Au naturale.

I'll pass.

truckinwife

Ok, just a thought here and a comment as well to your interesting take of people with blue tooth headsets. My husband is a truck driver and uses one often as well as I use one too. As driving is his living the bluetooth helps him stay connected to the home life.
Maybe I can tell my husband the next time he calls on his headset not to deliver that load of beer. So you can enjoy that New Years party, as he is just a genetic wreck. Get a life these headsets are used by some as a means of staying in touch with family. He is gone about 3 weeks to be home 3 days. So every bluetooth we have had gets heavy use.
Maybe you don't like people using their phone but maybe we get tired of people complaining about that very fact. Check out the local truck stop sometime and then yell something about headset users there. I double dog dare you.

chilywilly

Can someone please tell me what theme this is for the Tour? I love
how theres a light blue background on the icons. is it because of OS 5?

Thanks!

Jared DiPane

This is the Precision Zen theme. That device had 5.0 installed on it as well.

kurrupt_1

Jawbone far better.....way even compare it to others inferior products?

Jared DiPane

have you ever tried the HS-500? if you read the other user experiences of people that have, they are all in line with what was posted.

believe as you may, but unless you have given it a fair shot, its hard to say that the jawbone is far better.

gberry13

of course the blackberry one will win, you guys sell on your site. biased review but will give it a try since i have tried almost every single bluetooth with no luck.

Jared DiPane

actually. the review is completely unbias. I have both, both are sold in the store. I just called it how I saw it. check the other comments in the thread, others that have tried it have been extremely impressed with it as well.

Cyrilmak

There have been many reviews where a RIM device has lost to other brand names. Unless you go out and buy each you have no room to comment. Period.

Huffdaddy1982

Sounds like the app for me

pappy53

Plantronics Voyager Pro beats the Prime ( I own both). I don't know about the HS-500, but it will have to be good to beat the Plantronics.

haitham0

blackberry headset is an excellent headset but!!!!!! it is a exact duplicate of the jabra bt530 and the jabra model reatil for less. i have had both in my hands and ther is no differnce at all except price.

http://www.jabra.com/Sites/Jabra/uk-uk/Headsets/Pages/Jabrabt530.aspx

never tried the jawbone so cant comment on that one.......

DjSingh

I already bought BB HS500 2 months ago.... its really amazing....
my cousin have Jawbone and we were having the same argument that which is better so we replaced our headsets for a week...
i missed my BB and he agree with me too now.

Agreed with the Review....

BerryInteresting...

Plantronics. I am quite certain that Plantronics manufactures the Berry headset. The Blackberry HS-500 looks very much like their 655/665 headsets, which are also excellent. The only thing lacking in the comparison is the Plantronics PRO, which in my mind is the definitive headset on the market today. I have had other Plantronics, Motorola, Blue Ant, Jabra and the original Jawbone, and no other brand comes close for comfort and performance. maybe Blue Ant for sound. But especially in the last year or so as Plantronics has gotten their noise cancellation technology to its current state of excellence.
So while the HS-500 wins this round, it would be an all-Plantronics final if the PRO were included.
Jawbone will always be runner-up when put up against the best from Plantronics.
Two of my friends also have the Plantronics PRO, one bought it because I recommended it, the other on his own. One drives a truck for a living,the other works in a variety of places. When I talk to them they might as well be in their living rooms because I cannot hear the background noise wherever they are. I am in sales and spend a lot of time on the road. People always ask me if I am in my office, and are surprised when I tell them I am driving. (No, I do not sell Plantronics!) The PRO is the heir to the throne of the 510, long on batery life and phenomenal comfort. It folds to fit in your pocket, talks all day on a charge, and sounds great. Can't go wrong!

kalbers

Anybody have any experience using these with Glasses. The loop around the ear can be pretty tricky?

BerryInteresting...

No trick to it! You won't have any trouble after a day or two. Simply hook it around the back of your ear first and then settle it on your ear. In 10 minutes you will forget you are wearing it! the loop is very thin and should not interfere with your glasses. Hope that helps!

camron302

This is the same headset as the Jabra 530, as all the blackberry bluetooth products have a jabra twill thats typically less which makes no sense. Unless u feel it necessarily to have a blackberry emblem on it...

Zolutar

Oh, the HS-500 works very well without the ear-loop. Also, you can play music through your headset from the phone :)
Jawbone failed in that respect

n0m0n

Good review BUT you missed to mention what makes the Jawabone a better headset.
Its the technology...
Nowhere in your review did you comment on the noise assassin technology.

When your in a noisy environment or need mover outgoing volume press and hold the volume, and you will always get a comment from the other party that you sound clearer and you can hear them over the outside noise.

Yeah its not a blackberry on a blackberry site but come on thats what makes the Prime a superior device.

Thats big.

boywonder82

The review ends with -

"Head over to our store and pick on[e] up now."

How convenient that crackberry.com sells these exact headsets! Forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical.

kwkid

And had you bothered to comprehend what you read you would have clearly seen that BOTH headsets are sold at the store.

STR8WESTCOAST

THIS WAS USELESS. THIS PERSON HAS TOO MUCH TIME BECAUSE HE TALKED ABOUT THE PACKAGING. REVIEWS DON'T MATTER, ITS WHAT YOU AS TE CONSUMER LIKE

catwoman66

Question; I have just ordered one of these for my husband who has the Bold 9000, RIM says compatible with all devices, but it's just dawned on me the 9000 doesn't use the (micro usb) did they forget to mention something? Luckily I have other BB's but not much use the car charger for the Bold...

mostlydo

blackberry bluetooths are great. i personally recommend the blackberry HS655+ to any one looking into bluetooths, have been overly pleased with it and have had multiple bluetooths would use anything else.

jerseyman#CB

Based on reviews, I bought a Jawbone several months ago. I did this despite user comments that getting a good fit was next to impossible. I figured "I'm smarter than all of them, I can figure out how to get it to fit." W-R-O-N-G!!! I was never able to get it to fit securely. Frequently, during a call, attempting to adjust it closer to my cheek, resulted in a disconnect. Figured I'd give it to my wife; it pissed her off so bad, she didn't talk to me for two days. The only good thing to come from it. In brief - a total waste of money and time.

Jude526

You name it, I have had it and the jawbone to me is the best bluetooth. I am very pleased with it. Comfortable and I don't like ear loops due to my glasses. I like the fact I can wear it without an earloop and it fits nicely, too.

I have no background sounds and people I talk to tell me I am very clear. I am pleased

Jude526

You name it, I have had it and the jawbone to me is the best bluetooth. I am very pleased with it. Comfortable and I don't like ear loops due to my glasses. I like the fact I can wear it without an earloop and it fits nicely, too.

I have no background sounds and people I talk to tell me I am very clear. I am pleased

qwertzwasd

Hi Guys!

I've seen some of you mentioning the Plantronics Voyager Pro as being superior to there headsets. So, let me complicate things a bit :) I have the Pro, and I also have the Motorola HX1. I have to use my phone a lot, and - while I love both headsets - the HX1 is better. First, it is very loud. Even if you are in a club, you will be able to hear the other party. The other cool thing is that they will also hear you, no matter that you can't even hear your own voice while talking. Actually their voice quality is roughly the same. In normal mode the Pro's noise canceling is more noticeable. But Motorola's crystaltalk is also quite good. Of course, nothing beats stealt mode.. yet.
Talk time is also the best on the moto, among these: over 7 hours.

BTW I am in no way biased.. I just ordered the prime, 'cause I am interested in its noise canceling capabilities, plus it looks quite good :)

waltherchic

Any of you drive a Wrangler? I need a bluetooth headset that I can wear while driving with and without the roof on. I read a review where someone raved about the Jawbone 2 and using it in a Jeep, but, after reading more reviews of the headset I opted not to buy it. Right now I'm trying to find a decent review where someone has actually driven a Jeep with the Prime, the HS-500, the Pro or the HX1. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

dax_gordon

I've been using this wireless headset for a while now and I have to agree with this article. The performance of this headset is superb! Crystal clear phone calls with no hissing or cracking; excellent range and excellent microphone. All callers could not tell I'm on a headset. Very comfortable to wear also.

Salomon

Hi there does any one can help me ?
i just boutgh the bluetooth hs 500

im tryng to make calls using voice dialing by pressing and hold the call control key but i never hear 2 beeps to start saying what i want

anyone knows how to perform this ???

tnx in advance