When the original Jabra STONE was released last year – it was unlike anything we had ever seen on the Bluetooth headset market. Its unique shape and accompanying charging dock made it not only desirable to wear and own, but also to hold in your hand. This year the Jabra STONE2 has been released and while it still maintains its original unique look – it has gotten significant upgrades in terms of features, along with a new polish. The Jabra STONE2 now comes in both a glossy as well as a leather-like finish, but we got a chance to review the glossy version. So what’s new you ask? Well mostly voice command features…yes, that means that the Stone2 offers you the ability to control your phone with your voice.
The packaging for the Jabra STONE2 stays true to the original. Everything is placed neat and tidy inside compartments – making the packaging as streamline as possible. This time around Jabra is concerned with making sure the headset is not only impressive with its feature set but that it fits comfortably too. To that effect, the Jabra STONE2 is still designed for the right ear, but now it comes with 4 different sized eargels to make wearing the headset as comfortable as possible. However the Jabra STONE2 headset itself is still not adjustable, so for those with big ears, they will probably be at an advantage versus those who have smaller ears. The loop portion of the headset may just fall off. Also included inside the box is a USB cable charger, manual, belt clip, and wall charger.
The design of the Jabra STONE2 holds true to the original concept of its predecessor, and other than Jawbone’s line-up, the STONE2′s design is still very unique compared to the plethora of Bluetooth headsets out there on the market. The headset is incredibly comfortable to wear and no matter how fast or slow you walk, it won’t come flying out. With that said, this headset will sit more comfortably depending on how big or small your ears are- in particular, the fit is dependent on actually how big or small your industrial or helix is ( top portion and side part of the ear). This is unlike other headsets that give you earhooks and other accessories to make wearing Bluetooth headsets as painless as possible. The STONE2 limits just how snug you can get it around your ears due to its rigidness. Certainly the included eargels help, but if the top of your ear is not big enough or in proportion to your ear canal, the Jabra STONE2 will have difficulty staying in place and may fling off. Nonetheless the Jabra STONE2 still feels good in your hand, however the glossy finish tends to show more fingerprints than before.
The instructions included with the Jabra STONE2 are a bit skimpy and basically lead you to believe that no matter what your smartphone is, your headset will pair with it. The only physical button on the Jabra STONE2 is the Answer/End Button at the very base of the headset. Press on it for a few seconds and the headset turns on and is ready to be paired. Pairing with my T-Mobile G2 was a snap – it recognized and paired with the STONE2 right away. On the other hand, the iPhone and iPad took a bit of more wrangling to get them to pair. Both devices didn’t need a passkey to be entered yet they still wouldn’t detect the STONE2. So what was wrong? Well after digging around on the Jabra site, I discovered that I had to power off the Jabra STONE2 and then enable Bluetooth on the iPhone/iPad. After that, you need to press the Answer/End button for a few seconds and continue to press it until the Jabra is picked up by the iPhone or iPad. Presto, my favorite iOS devices were finally paired with the STONE2 without a problem.
Nothing much has changed here in regards to sound quality and reception. I was disappointed that for some reason I heard more crackling noises than I had with the original Jabra STONE. This depended on where I was in the city, either the sound quality improved or degraded based on my location. Folks on the other end of a call could hear me clearly at times but also complained of hearing crackling noises too. Fortunately, one shinning aspect of the STONE2 is the Noise Blackout Extreme feature which seemed to eliminate a lot of the background noise surrounding me. The volume control still provides a neato factor too as it did in the original STONE. By just sliding your finger up and down on the front of the headset you can control the volume – there is no actual button. Also, I personally didn’t have any issues with the headset’s volume. On busy NYC streets I could hear callers just fine and in quieter situations, the volume was almost too loud and needed to be lowered.
Perhaps, the biggest improvement to the Jabra STONE2 is the new voice command system that allows users to answer and place calls with their voice as well as end calls too. Now depending on how good your smartphones proprietary voice software is – that’s how well the Jabra STONE2 will work. With the iPhone 4, the Jabra STONE2 worked well but had issues with annunciations and finding certain people in my contacts. Whereas with the G2, I was able to call people easily with the STONE2 but I couldn’t end the call. So I highly suggest downloading one of the many apps in Jabra’s World of Apps section on their website such as Voice on the Go or Vlingo. These headset-based apps work more intuitively with the Jabra STONE2 and are able to fully unleash what this headset was made to do, so that you don’t get so frustrated that you want to use your phone the old fashioned way. With these apps, you’ll be screaming at your phone to ‘ignore’ your mother in no time.
As much as the Jabra STONE2 has changed, much has stayed the same. Yes it’s available in glossy for AT&T and a leather finish for Verizon, but nothing has changed in the way of the physical shape of the headset. Unfortunately that means that it’s still only made for right ears and some may still have comfort issues depending on the size of their ear. Also, some folks might experience crackling depending on your location. However, overall, the STONE2′s positives still out weigh its negatives. The Noise Blackout Extreme feature is still phenomenal and the Jabra STONE2′s unique design has yet to be duplicated. The addition of voice apps certainly transform this device into a cutting-edge Bluetooth headset. Unfortunately, some of the Apps from the Jabra World of Apps require monthly charges to work. But if you are ready to jump head-first into a unique Bluetooth headset experience by using advanced voice controls, then by all means the Jabra STONE2 is for you. The Jabra STONE2 retails for $129.99 at both Verizon and AT&T.
The Good: New voice command features take the headset to the next level. Additional eargels make for a more comfortable fit. Construction is still solid. Battery life is now 10 hours. Unique design still enables it to stand out from the Bluetooth headset pack.
The Bad: More crackling noises than the original. Headset still won’t fit comfortably for some with smaller ears. Still designed for right ears only. To unlock the true potential of the headset, you will have to download apps from the Jabra World of Apps store which can entail extra costs.