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Review of Jawbone Prime vs. Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth Headsets: A Real World Test

Posted by Steve on November 15, 2009

I recently was in need of a new bluetooth headset, the first one was far too loud on the receiving end up to the point that I was told to just go on mute on a conference call as others could not hear what I was saying at all. The first thing that I did, as often in testing, was to define what my desired end result was. For me what mattered most, above anything else, was the call quality on the receiving end. The other important factors were comfort, and a mute function (as my phone did not have one, and to mute with the conference call system, you had to press *1, something that is not easy while driving).

With the desired qualities in mind, I proceeded to do some research to try and figure out what device what meet my requirements. I found it was easy to narrow down the pool to a couple devices, the Jawbone Prime and the Plantronics Voyager Pro based mainly on editor and personal reviews. Both units were similarly priced, at the time the Jawbone prime was 120$ and the Plantronics Pro was 100$, so they were both upper end devices. This is where I ran into some difficulties; once I was down to the two devices, it was impossible to tell, from reading at least, which device would have the superior call quality. In words it is almost impossible to quantify call quality, often reviewers would say the quality was a four stars, or that it was better than its predecessor. I even found articles comparing the two devices, but I was surprised to discover none of them had any sound clips of what the receiving call sounded like. To me it seemed the only real way to get a feel for how good the call quality was.

This is when I decided move forward and do some testing of my own. I purchased both the Jawbone Prime and the Plantronics Voyager Pro headsets, and I then decided to leave myself a message on my phone, that way I could do a straight comparison of the receiving call quality. I actually ended up leaving messages twice for each device, as the first time I did not have a good idea of what I wanted to test, this was a good example of the importance of having various testing scenarios in mind. I wanted to hear the call quality in a variety of scenarios including, music playing, windows down, air conditioning pointed at face and different voice volume levels. (Unfortunately to hear the tests, you will need to actually download the .wav file, hopefully I can post them on another site that will stream them)

The Plantronics Voyager Pro:
http://www.mediafire.com/file/zuyznjijldm/Plantronics.WAV

The Jawbone Prime:
http://www.mediafire.com/?m5mgwtn3xny

After listening to both clips it was clear that the Plantronics Voyager pro had superior receiving call quality. The Jawbone Prime, was almost perfect when I was not talking, but when I was the background noise started to leak through. Overall comfort was about equivalent for both devices, and the Plantronics Pro had mute functionality where as the Jawbone Prime does not.

I would therefore state that the Plantronics Voyager Pro is the superior device based on my criteria, but both devices performed quite well (especially in comparison to some of the cheaper products). I have had the voyager pro for about 4 months now, and it has continued to perform well. To tie this back to testing, it was interesting because I got to test a product in a non traditional manner and in a realistic setting as a customer. It also reinforced the importance of knowing the needs of the customer when testing, because had my criteria been different a different headset could have come out on top.

–Steve

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