Over the past few months, I�ve been seeing new and improved versions of products that I reviewed within the past year. Sometimes there are minor improvements; other times there are only iterations on the same design. For example, The Smartphone Experts MP6 is a welcome variation on the Aluminum hardcase I reviewed earlier. Recently, the folks who made the mr handsfree blue butterfly headset contacted me to send a slightly improved version of their latest headset � the old version I reviewed here. And the revised headset will be reviewed soon. Cases also come in sequels such as the Krusell Handit and the Handit Platinum. With the addition of four new Treos this year, I imagine we�ll be innundated with sequels, variations, and deluxe versions of accessories. The difficulty will be sorting out the worthwhile improvements from the marketing hype.
This review takes a look at the Jabra SP500, which boasts some improvements over its predecessor and also some degradation in features. The volume controls and battery usage have changed significantly.
The design of the SP500 is nearly the same as its precursor, the Jabra SP100, and looks like an oval-shaped device with a boom mic that swivels into the air to point towards you. In the center is a large multi-function button to answer, hang up, and place calls on hold. On the side of the unit are a volume wheel and a mute button. There is also a small button dedicated to pairing and a charging outlet in the front.
The Jabra SP500 also ships with a svelte AC adapter, windshield mount and visor clip. The unit uses two �AA� nickel hydride batteries that CANNOT be swapped out for the alkaline variety. Also, the LED will automatically shut off after one minute of talk time, reducing distraction while driving.
Color-wise, the Jabra SP500 is an unremarkable dull grey top with a darker gray base. The windshield mount uses three suction cups and swivels and rotates this way and that for proper orientation. The speakerphone also ships with a visor clip and a car charger. If you�re one of the few smokers left in the world, I suppose this last accessory won�t do you much good.
The good news is that pairing is easy. There is now a dedicated pairing button on the side. Press it until the phone shaped LED turns blue, then initiate the pairing process on the Treo. The usual 0000 passcode will do the trick.
The main difference between the units is one you might not notice at first, The volume wheel on the side of the SP500 is of the infinite spinning variety. At the same time, the SP500 introduces auto-adjusting volume circuitry. The result is an exercise in frustration. As I tried to make the volume of some calls louder, the circuitry would cut in and automatically �adjust� the call volume. This was especially irksome when there was extraneous noise in the room. The volume would adjust down when in fact I needed it to be louder.
Under most circumstances, though, I noticed the sound quality to be more robust than the previous generation. It was fuller, in general louder (though not as adjustable). There was occasionally scratchiness, though nothing too annoying. The problem was that people listening to calls reported the same sort of distortions and problems as the previous generation. Scratchiness and general low fidelity were problems. Maybe the microphone itself is not of good enough quality. Certainly a lot of resources went into the speaker.
The speakerphone also supports last number redial (a nice feature), hold, call reject, and call waiting.
The unit has the ability to be used in a variety of situations. It can easily sit on a desk, angled gently towards the user. The boom microphone swivels into the correct position for optimal direction. The windshield mount seems to struggle a bit under the weight of the speakerphone and I didn�t find it as secure as I would have liked. Unlike the SP100, the SP500 cannot be used with standard double �A� batteries—only the rechargeable type. Since Jabra didn�t spring for the better Lithium Ion batteries, the hydride ones will eventually have to be replaced. I suppose there could be an odd circumstance where you�ll charge up a second set of double �A�s and bring them along as a backup, though the unit claims up to 20 hours of talk time. And that�s almost as many minutes as I have in my monthly plan, so I wasn�t able to test that.
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