Review: Aliph Jawbone PRIME Bluetooth Headset

By James Falconer on 2 Jun 2009 10:39 am EDT
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Jawbone PRIME Bluetooth Headset

For years now I've been a big fan of the Aliph 'Jawbone' series Bluetooth headset. Not only for its stunning design, but for the quality product and sound clarity. Naturally, when Kevin asked me if I would like to do a review of the brand-new Jawbone PRIME, I was all over it like nobody's business. In my review I'll step you through the product and provide you with a few good pictures of the new device... and by the end you may even be convinced to pick one up (you won't regret it - this is my favorite headset to date).

Side note: I'm not going to bore you with all of the initial setup instructions, how to pair the device with your BlackBerry etc... Lets face it, we all know how to do that, and if you don't, I'm happy to report that both headsets here come with very clear instructions on how to do so. Let's get down to it!

What's Inside the Box 

Jawbone PRIME
A look at the Jawbone Prime Packaging

...And what a box it is! The packaging of the PRIME is very nicely done, as is to be expected. All of the accessories, power supplies, earloops, etc. are packaged in an exposed and front-facing manner. As soon as you crack the package you're displayed with most options right in front of your eyes!

Jawbone PRIME
Check out all of the included earbuds and earloops

The Jawbone PRIME packaging contains the following:

  • 1 Jawbone PRIME Bluetooth Headset
  • 6 different earbuds (2 different styles)
  • 2 earloops (including 1 'premium' leather-wrapped style)
  • 1 USB charging cable
  • 1 wall charger
  • 1 user welcome guide with instructions
  • 1 safety informational pullout
Jawbone PRIME
A look at everything included in the box...

Everything you need to go wireless is packaged perfectly into the box. Two big thumbs up for packaging and presentation of the device. Definitely first-class.

The Technology

Before I go any further I thought it would be appropriate to touch just a bit on the extraordinary technology built-in to the PRIME.

Aliph has prided itself for some time now in providing the best sound quality available in a Bluetooth Headset. The Jawbone PRIME comes complete with NoiseAssassin 2.0, which improves upon the previous generation. A quick description of the improvements made to NoiseAssassin from Jawbone:

Jawbone PRIME has even better background noise elimination than the previous generations. NoiseAssasin™ 2.0 delivers an order of magnitude improvement in the noisiest environments (6 to 9dB) extracting even more noise while keeping the user's voice natural.

It's important to note that both headsets come with an 'Acoustic Voice Activity Detector'. This detection device provides a 'fail-safe' of sorts... When the detector isn't in contact with your cheek/face, the Jawbone will perform as good if not better than most headsets available on the market. But when the detector is in contact with your face (as it should be!) it's like getting a turbo-boost in performance.

A turbo-boost in performance indeed. I decided to test the PRIME's voice detection and background noise elimination by performing the 'head out of the car window' test. While it looks absolutely foolish, I have tested all of my Bluetooth headsets by driving around with my head out the window while on a call. It looks absolutely foolish and is a tad dangerous, but for my purposes I had to do it. Suffice it to say, the PRIME outperformed every other headset I've tested. Background noise was nil, and the recipient of the call on the other end could hear me loud and clear.

Bottom line is the Jawbone PRIME packs some great technology into a great package. The device is light (feels slightly lighter than the Jawbone 2 to me...), background noise is all but completely eliminated when in use, and the acoustic voice activity detector works brilliantly in delivering clear and crisp audio to the device on the other end.

Finding the Perfect Fit

I'm pleased to report here that the Jawbone PRIME is the best-fitting Jawbone yet. This, primarily due to the new earbuds that come packaged with the device.

Jawbone PRIME
Note the new style earbud. I like.

The new earbuds packaged with the PRIME have an extra circle of soft rubber sticking out of them... Looks a little odd for sure, but once you try them, I think you'll agree they are a great improvement. The key is however how you insert the earpiece into your ear. With the new style of earbud on the device, point the Jawbone DOWN, insert into your ear, and then turn the device UP until the voice activity sensor (VAS) is touching your cheek/face. That's it... The headset should now be very snug within your ear WITHOUT an earloop! Perfect!

I can't tell you how pleased I am to be running around town with no earloop on my Bluetooth headset. The temperatures are warming up here, and it was/is always tricky to get comfortable with a headset AND sunglasses/glassed on. The arm of the sunglasses and the earloop of the headset would always battle each other on the side of my noggin'... Not a comfortable deal at all. If you've ever experienced this problem you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Thankfully, with the PRIME you can say goodbye to that problem for good. No earloop necessary. It's awesome.

Two thumbs up to the Jawbone PRIME for delivering and unparalleled fit.

Fit and Finish

Jawbone PRIME
The Jawbone PRIME: One Solid Device! 

I have to admit, I'm no 'aficionado' of Bluetooth headsets, but I've seen and used my fair share. And, to this day, I've never put hands on a device as well put together as the Jawbone PRIME. For that matter, both the Jawbone PRIME and its predecessor the Jawbone 2 are put together to form a solid and well-built product. While I'm at it, I seem to recall the original Jawbone was up to this standard as well. The Jawbone's are certainly on the high-end of the Bluetooth headset spectrum... And if there's one thing I've learned over the past few years when it comes to Bluetooth headsets... you get what you pay for! Once you have one you will probably never want to give it up!

So it looks good... But is it easy to use?

Using the Jawbone PRIME is dead easy. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review I'm not going to get into the initial setup and pairing of the device, but handy step-by-step instructions are included should you need them.

Answering calls is as easy as a tap on the 'talk' button, which is the main button on the outside of the device itself. Pressing the talk button will also answer an incoming call while you're on an existing call. To reject a call simply hit the noise assassin button near the back of the device. The call will be immediately rejected. Finally, to toggle Noise Assassin on and off simply press the Noise Assassin button and hold for 2 seconds. Noise Assassin is always on by default.

The important thing here is to play/fool around with the device to get used to it. Because the buttons are 'hidden' on the device, the more you use it, the more familiar you'll get with it... and before you know it using the Jawbone PRIME will be second nature to you.

Important side note: Before you start using your Jawbone, be sure to charge it up for around 50 minutes with the included USB cable or wall charger. The indicator light will change from red to white when the device is charged and ready to go.

Conclusions

Jawbone PRIME and Jawbone 2
Enter the Next Generation: Jawbone PRIME (left) with the Jawbone 2

You really can't go wrong with the Jawbone PRIME. Ever since the original Jawbone from Aliph, I've been recommending them to friends, family and colleagues. The Jawbone 2 was another great jump forward, setting the bar for Bluetooth headsets, and now, the Jawbone PRIME has done the same. To borrow a line from countless movie reviews: 'Two thumbs up... way up!'

Pros

  • stunning design
  • easy to use
  • fantastic sound quality and background noise elimination
  • great fit with no earloop necessary

Cons

  • On the pricier side

Ratings

  • Design and Function: 5/5
  • Sound Quality: 5/5
  • Aesthetics: 5/5
  • Ease of Use: 5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Price & Purchase

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James Falconer James Falconer "Community Manager, Mobile Nations" 354 (articles) 790 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Review: Aliph Jawbone PRIME Bluetooth Headset

50 Comments

I must agree this headset is amazing Ive tried almost every headset (i'm very picky) between the prime and motorola's H-15. Prime wins by a little but its still better. I bought the jawbone 1 and 2 and i wasn't happy with them at all. I put it to the test rolled all my windows down went on the highway, made a phone call and the person on the other end could hear me perfectly fine and i tried this many times and every time the same result.The prime is def perfected. For my money its worth every penny.

This review is very glowing. I have a Jawbone 2 and it is a great headset so as long as it is touching your face and you don't mind charging it up again right in the middle of your work day. The battery life on the Jawbone 2 is a joke is there any improvement on the Prime? I would be inclined to buy it if it had improved battery life.

jazzmoe, for the purposes of the review I used the PRIME for over 2 days on the same charge. Granted, I'm probably not on the device as some... but overall I was impressed.

The Jawbone PRIME is said to deliver 4.5 hours of talk time and 8 days of standby on a single charge. I'd say those numbers are fairly accurate.

I will not say that you are wrong about this device but I have a Jawbone 2 that I have used maybe 3 times and it does not stay put in my ear so I am asking this before I go out and spend another 100.00 plus dollars, can I just get the ear bud to go with my Jaw bone 2 instead of going out and purchasing this one.

Yes you can order the new ear bud that come with the prime for the jawbone 2. They are on the Jawbone website. They were free plus shipping and handling but are now $9.99. It worked better than the old ones but I still need to use the ear-loop, but it does tend to stay on my face more now.

I tried the Jawbone 2 with the new earbuds. They still did not feel secure on my ear and had to use the earloops at the end. To make matters worse the tip of the earloop finally broke within my 30 day trial period. Back it went. I purchased a Plantronics Discovery 925. The earbuds fit great and secure and sound quality is very good.

Frankly I was amazed the tester did not lose the Jawbone when he stuck his head out the window. I find it interesting that one company can design an earbud that works and the other can't. That part is not rocket science!!

I've tried the Jawbone units and the Q1 and like the Q1 better but this new Jawbone's a great unit. Different type of fits and different units for fit, style, and use. I reviewed the Q1 but am waiting on the Jawbone unit to arrive.

I have heard a lot of people say that plantronics were decent. I bought 2 of them and they were the absolute worse headsets ever. Sound quality is far below the jawbone.

I am all for not catering to the masses, I own a zune and hate ipods but sometimes the masses are correct.

I currently have the JBii and am definatly upgrading to this. If the shipping cost to Canada from the CB store wasn't so expensive, I would dive on it here, but looks like I'm going to have to go another route.

EDIT:
If CB can drop the price to $99.99 I will take this from them even with the shipping cost.
It would just be matching the THANKU30 offer from jawbone.

I love the Jawbone Prime. I've had several bluetooth headsets including the Jawbone and Jawbone2. My only complaint about the Jawbone2 is the damn earpiece and hoop. I never could get it to fit my ear just right and broke several hoops trying.

It was to a point that I actually purchased a custom earpiece for the jawbone2 and loved it!

Right about the time my Jawbone2 died, the Prime came out. The BEST thing they did was redesign the earpiece. (FYI, the new earpieces will fit the Jawbone2). Such a simple change that makes all the difference! Even though it fits lightly in my ear, the headset has not fallen out of my ear yet! I've worn it all day without any fatigue or accidents. Of course there are time in with loud environment noise, I sometimes have to adjust the Jawbone to my ear or press it closer to hear over the noise, but that is seldom)

Of couse, if I plan on doing something really active, I'll switch out with my Big Ear custom earpiece. With that on, it will definately not come out and sits perfectly everytime (tough the headset is pushed a bit futher away from the ear and is more noticeable).

The 2nd best thing they did on the Prime is make the rear button easier to press! On my earlier Jawbone2, that rear button was difficult to press and sometime I had to re-press to get it to activate.

Keep the innovations coming!

This is my 3rd bluetooth headset, and the Prime is easily the best sound... I had an older plantronics, this wins hands down. My only complaint is that the device 'turns off' when you put it onto the USB charger... so you can't have it in the charging cradle and pickup an incoming call. I'm at the PC all day and don't leave the headset on, I leave it charging, so this is kind of annoying. I have to answer the call with my phone and then turn the Prime on.

Its headset number 14 or so over the past few years. You can enter THANKU30 in the checkout to get $30 off. $99 aint bad. jawbone.com and enter the code during checkout.

Been pondering this new incarnation of the Jawbone.
Also thinking about the Q1.
I guess it depends on what suits my needs.

I like my Jawbone but am disappointed you don't get phone sounds played through the earpiece. No custom ringtones and no message alerts. To me this is a big loss.

Looking at the last picture I see blue color. I didn't think that the prime came in blue? Is it the lighting or am I missing something.

I just bought the dual mic LG and the salesman said he preferred it over the Jawbone, in sound and comfort. I will keep it for a bit and see what I think.

if you have not done the research and want a VERY good headset, I would suggest the Plantronics Voyager Pro. It's only been out about a month or so now but IMO, it's the best headset on the market today.

It's a big improvement from the original Voyager which already has gotten better reviews than most headsets on the market today.

Thank you KALUQZ for the THANKU30 info. Got for $99.99. No sales tax either (Don't let the present administration know this) looking forward to receiving it. Will let Crackberry know if I am happy with it or not. Love my BOLD

I have to agree with "Microxot" in that the ear piece never fit my ears comfortably and I'm not a fan of the hoop over my ear. I too had a custom attachment made. Not sure where Microxot went but I found a website earsound.com that makes a custom attachment for all Bluetooth devices. Wasn't expensive considering I have this darn thing in my ear 8+ hours / day.

Does this unit have the ability to play back music and videos? If so this is definately the best earpiece out there. I had the Jawbone 1 and switched to the Jabra BT8040 simply for that feature.

Ok recently tried the newest plantrontics. I think the pro the big one that hooks behind the ear with the long silver mic. It was good. But this I say has the slight edge. The ear bud fits comfortably.
The one with the extended loop; and there really is no nee for the hook. I can say that I could leave this thing on all day. As far as noise cancellation. I will say excellent
I gave it my running water test. I will give it the slight
edge as well over the plantronics.
Oh and by the way I did try the blue ant V1 that is a good head set as well; but again a slight edge to the Prime.
In noise reduction and comfort.
I was sceptical because I tried Jawbone 1, 2 and now the prime. Imo the JB1 had better noise cancellation than the 2;
but the Prime far ecxeeds that one. I reccomend it. Tomorrow I will give it the freeway test. But the running
water test is a very strong indicator and it passed hands down. Highly reccomend it; when it comes to bt head sets I am very very picky. I think I have finally found the perfect one. Oh I know it's talk time is 4.5 hrs. But these things charge quickly.

I had the first verison of the jawbone, then Jawbone2 and now own the Prime. I have only one issue with using it with my Storm. After several Voice Dial calls it freezes the Storm.

I had called Jawbone tech support and they advised me that it is an issue with the BB. All I have to do when it freezes is pull the battery.

And yes, I put up with it as its the best hands free device I have used.

i just wanted to leave a little feedback on jawbone.. i have had mine for about 2 years or so now and i LOVE IT!!! i could be driving in my car with the radio blasting and be on the jawbone, and still hear the person as if they were standing next to me.. and the best thing is unless i tell the person im in the car driving with the windows down and radio blasting they wouldnt know.. its a great product, and well wort the money (i think)... i know i got mine for $140 at bestbuy, and i got the waranty on it.. i think its worth it..

I had been on the fence until I read your review. I went out and got one today, sorry crackberry but Verizon gives me a 25% discount on accessories. I love it! I have always hated the ear loops on other models and brands. This one fits snug, stays in place, and it is incredibly comfortable. The sound blocking rocks and the call quality is amazing. I'm hooked!

I have the original Jawbone and briefly tried the JB2, but neither has a loud enough volume for me to hear the other party - especially in the noisy environments for which you are buying this. Is the Prime any louder than previous generations?

What you can do is on the charging plugin the cord is a usb you plug into usb port and in the program settings look into master vol.control and you can increase volume levels hope that helps you rj101.....

I for 1 have had some pretty bad bluetooth's in my day but the JAWBONE design and tech can and wont be beat for a long time to come i own both the JB 1st series and 2nd incarnation the noise assassin tech is really worth the money and when offered
to take off my hands (the first 1)i just wont let go it is a great product and i try to tell all my buddies to get 1 lol they call it my jawbone jawing rant....

Just like the Iphone, all looks and hype. Blueant and some Plantronics are far better BT ear peices.Plus if you shop around are a lot less..

the jawbone to ME is a lot of hype, yes i have one but since i don't wear it in my ear on a constant basis, i need a case for it. it would be nice, especially after shelling out all that money, is if it would come with a case for your belt. that would be sweet.

They keep getting better. The JB1 had the best volume but was a bit bulky. The JB2 was more comfortable but also did not play audio from songs or videos or from the Slingplayer program. The JB3 sounds like an improvement with dual phone connection support but without a2dp support I will wait for JB4. I'm now using the Jabra BT530, not as comfortable but with noise blackout with dual microphones, dual phone and a2dp support, its my choice

Does it have A2DP? The previous Jawbones do not! The best headset I have ever used is the Jabra BT 8040. ($25) Very small, great fit and A2DP allows me to listen to music from my Bold in one ear and no one needs to know!

U know where this thing outshines the plantronics
voyager pro. In the wind dept. I am one to save my messages.
I always test a headset with the window open driving
on the fwy right next to a car. I call my office phone and
listen to the message when I am at my desk.
Noise cancellation they are neck n neck; u know where
thie prime kicks butt. Wind; u notice the wind with the
voyager pro. The prime I was driving the fwy with all 4 windows down. The wind noise is almost nill. Either way
u cant go wrong. But if wind is your concern go with the prime.

I'm looking for a bluetooth that has an option for a small ear bud as mine is small and most will not stay in my ear or they hurt like hell. I still want great dependability and clarity. Anyone know of one that fits the bill?

Hurts my ears. I don't know why people love it so much.
The Plantronic Voyager Pro is way better for me, I forget that it's in my ear.

If it would stay in my ear, it would be great. I have tried every option it came with, and none of it works. The ear loop is too long, making it sit above my ear and not around it. I shaved it off, and that part fits better, but the rubber pieces that actually fit into your ear don't stay either. They pop right out when I yawn....

I am very tired of not having a Bluetooth that sounds great for my callers. I have spent so much money on Bluetooths over the past couple of years. So when I got my Blackberry Tour and my Motorola turned out to not be a good mix, I decided to give the Jawbone a try. The colors really drew me to it and the beauty of the device. I had read reviews first because I do a lot of research before making a decision. And I am glad I made the switch. Deciding on the Jawbone was the easy part. And parting with my money wasn't so difficult because they are on sale at my Verizon store.
I chose the "Frankly Scarlet" color and I love it. But I love the quality of the Jawbone. It just WORKS. Plain and simple. My friends and family members can't believe I am talking on a Bluetooth. I have talked with windows rolled down, walking outside when it is breezy. And just at home.
I am extremely pleased. And it is very comfortable, too. I don't like the ear loops though and am glad I don't have to wear it to keep the device in my ear. I liked that about all previous Bluetooths I have had. I wear glasses and even though the earloop may be thin, I just don't like them.
I highly recommend this bluetooth. I don't have a problem with the battery life on it. I am nt on my phone all the time but when I am, I use the bluetooth a lot. No problems. It is a top notch device and worth the money.
If you want one, go to a Verizon store. Should still be on sale....I hope for your wallet's sake. But even if it isn't, the full retail price..........this bluetooth is well worth it.
Only thing I don't like is can't listen to my music. All other bluetooths I could listen to my tunes. But I am ok with it. My calls are crystal clear.