We've got Aliph's new Jawbone Prime in hand, and while it's not much different to look at compared to its predecessor, there's enough new on the noise reduction and ergonomics front to warrant a quick look. Follow along after the break.
Jawbone has tweaked the (already quite slick) unboxing experience slightly to improve on user education and set-up experience. The first thing we noticed when we pulled off the cover was the friendly selection of earbud tip sizes, along with odd little loops on a couple of them, which are designed to help keep the headset firmly in your ear, and its sensor resting against your face. The Prime's inputs are actually hardly different at all, with "material improvements" to the voice activity sensor and microphone, but nothing major.
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR meant setup was a snap -- no PIN to enter -- and the device can up to 8 device pairings and 2 simultaneous connections.
NoiseAssassin 2.0 lives up to its name: there's a bunch of fancy new algorithms at work here to cut down noise, which Aliph calls an "order of magnitude" better than last time. There are a few different approaches they've taken to shore up noise, including: "impulsive noises" such as elevator dings, sirens and such; reverb cancellation for chatting in large halls and bathrooms; and much-improved wind reduction through use of the voice activity sensor and some fancy audio work (pictured above). Jawbone also added traditional noise cancellation as a "fail safe" for when the voice activity sensor isn't resting against the user's face.
Impressions We found the new earbud tips to be very comfortable, and we felt totally safe using the headset without the ear loop. Sound was clear and loud on our end, and we didn't have trouble at all carrying on a long conversation indoors and out.
Noise cancellation is hard to test empirically, but subjectively we'd say it did a great job of blocking out a noisy Manhattan street, and it faced up to our non-scientific wind test (a fan straight in the face) with surprisingly good results. It's not magical by any means, but it's pretty good at what it does.
Wrap-up Sure, it's expensive, and there are plenty of decent noise canceling Bluetooth headsets out there to choose from -- Jawbone isn't even alone on the fashion front -- but we'd say Aliph's done a lot to improve audio performance and comfort this time around, and little to diminish those best-in-class looks they're so well known for. Now if only we could get a free software update for this one by the time NoiseAssassin 3.0 rolls around.