Steve's Ramblings

2010-08-24

Jawbone Icon finally gets it right

Filed under: Gadgets, iPhone, Review — Tags: — steveriggins @ 4:30 pm

The Aliph Jawbone Icon is the third in the company’s series of Bluetooth headsets.  I’ve owned all three.  The original Jawbone was large (small for its time!) but I kept breaking the ear loops.  The second model, the Prime, was pretty good, but I had issues with the iPhone 3GS and 4, mainly with voice dialing, crackling and disconnecting.

The Icon solves all of these issues and more.  The Icon is smaller in length, yet slightly wider.  It fits into the ear nicely, but if you prefer a loop, they have those too and even come with a swivel ball joint, which will easily snap apart vs. break.

The controls on the Icon are simple.  One easy to use button on top, and a slider on/off button on the inside.  The LED now rings the voice nub on the inside of the Jawbone, so there is one less factor making you look like a pretentious jerk.

I bought The Thinker as seen here:

jbIconThinker_165w.gif

Pressing the button on the top (hard to see in that photo, but it is just to the left of the silvery bits) allows you to check how much time you have left on the Icon’s battery.  Press and hold the same button and you’ll activate your iPhone’s voice dialing.  The Icon will speak to you, affirming your command and then you’ll hear the iPhone’s “beep beep” to let you know that you can start controlling the phone.

Another joy is how fast the Icon is.  When you turn the Icon on for the first time, it will tell you to connect to the iPhone.  Simply open Settings, then General, then Bluetooth and tap the “Jawbone Icon” entry in the list.  Done!

If a call comes in and the Icon is off, you can turn it on and answer the call before the call goes to voicemail.  Fantastic.

But wait, there is more!  If you go to Aliph’s MyTalk page then you can upgrade your Icon!  I installed the “innovation” of A2DP which lets me use the Icon for listening to music from the iPhone.  This upgrade also lets you use the button on the Icon to change the volume while on a call.  By default, the Icon will try to normalize the audio so it is a constant volume, but I found their algorithm favored a low volume which made it hard to hear in a car with road noise and the air conditioner blaring.  Installing this software package onto the Icon allowed me to set the volume myself.

How does one install the software?  Simple!  Sign up for a MyTalk account.  Download a little application to your Macintosh, which puts a “J” icon in the menu bar (yes, another menu item)  Connect the Jawbone to the Mac with the USB cable that came with the Icon and click a button on the web page.  Done!

About their Mac software – Aliph did a nice job here.  You can uncheck the auto launch option right from their menu, so MyTalk won’t launch every time you log into your user.  You’ll just have to find it in your Applications folder and launch it by hand.  Very nice.  Also, the icon changes color depending on if it sees the Icon or not.  Very nice!

What else can you do?  Well, I didn’t want the music aspects of this upgrade, so I disabled it!  You can also easily revert to the default Icon software if you want.  Too bad Apple isn’t so nice.

I mentioned briefly that the Icon speaks to you.  Well, you can customize that as well.  I put the “blonde bombshell” voice on to amuse my male friends.  I think that has sold a few Icons.  There is also a male spy voice and several other less interesting voices.  I think Darth Vader would rock as a voice.

So there you have it, the Icon is:

  1. Small
  2. Affordable
  3. Light
  4. Fast
  5. Easy to use
  6. Easy to upgrade
  7. Stylish (comes in several styles)
  8. Standard (the charger is simply minimicro-USB now)

Pick up your Aliph Jawbone Icon headset today!

 

Update: 2010-08-26

Corrected error stating that the Icon had a mini-USB port.  It actually has a micro-USB port.

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