The Aliph Jawbone is the latest stylish Bluetooth headset to hit the streets. Aliph touts a new noise reduction system called Noise Shield that uses an innovative technique to remove background chatter. Does it work? Is the Jawbone premium headset worth the premium price? Read on to find out.
Features and Design
There was a time when the sight of a person mumbling and laughing to themselves meant only one thing – and use your imagination here. Once cell phones caught on, we learned to look for the dangling wired microphone before assuming psychosis. And now, even that telltale wire is gone, thanks to the ubiquity of Bluetooth headsets. What’s more, headsets have gone high-style, as $100+ USD options mark the luxury lines from each major manufacturer.
A new company called Aliph, has built their first offering around what they call Noise Shield technology. The idea is simple — the headset should only care about sound when the person is talking, which requires moving their mouth (and thus, the name "Jawbone" for their first device). The headset extends over the muscle that moves the jaw so that when the mouth moves, a small rubber piece moves. This acts as a switch that tells the headset, “Hey, there’s someone talking here!” Noise that occurs without the wearer moving their mouth is greatly diminished. Ventriloquists will want to look elsewhere.
The Jawbone is slightly larger than most premium headsets, due to the need for it to extend over the jaw. This does not translate into weight, as the Jawbone is substantial, but light. There is an obvious amount of effort put into the choice of materials. The outer shielding is available in red, black, and silver. The activity light glows a diffuse white or red to indicate status. The remainder of the body has a glossy black finish. The only two buttons on the unit are completely concealed. The Talk button is hidden under the colored plate, and the Noise Shield button is the entire back-most surface behind the activity light.
Fit is everything with the Jawbone, which is why Aliph includes four ear loop sizes and three ear insert sizes. The headset can be used on the left or right side of the head by inverting these two pieces. A series of holes along the back of the headset fit into the charging cable, which is included in the packaging. A USB charging cable is supplied, which plugs into an AC adapter.
Aliph Jawbone and accessories
The packaging of the Jawbone is immaculate. The clear plastic case shows off the headset on a custom molded pedestal, like a piece of art. The base of the box hides a box labeled “Customize Your Fit,” containing the earloops and earbuds, and a box labeled “Power Up,” containing the charging cable and adapter. The initial charge took around 5 hours and lasted approximately 3 days with moderate use.
Use and Sound Quality
Operating the Jawbone is straightforward. The Noise Shield button pairs the unit when the power is off. The Noise Shield function can be turned on and off while the unit is in use without disconnecting. (The May 22nd Digital Trends Podcast contains a sample of the sound quality with and without Noise Shield for those curious about the difference in sound quality.) We got mixed results on outgoing sound quality. Some people we talked to thought the Noise Shield made us sound far away, while others thought the clarity was exceptional. The most likely cause of this was improper placement. We used the headset as an average, everyday person would, which means that unless you pay particular attention to each use of the Jawbone, expect mixed results. There is no way for the wearer to know if the headset is properly placed, unless someone at the other end complains. Incoming sound quality was exceptional, both in clarity and volume. Volume is adjusted by tapping the Noise Shield button.
The Aliph Jawbone is an excellent headset that uses some interesting techniques to minimize background noise. While the results can be somewhat inconsistent, the overall quality of incoming and outgoing calls is exceptional when fit properly. The Jawbone stands out as a stylish headset that’s sure to turn heads, and it competes handily with other premium headsets.
• Stylish design
• Clear voice quality
• Customizable fit
• Large size
• Slightly inconsistent voice pickup