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Tag: jabra

It’s Time for Dual-Band Bluetooth Please!

Posted by J Powers at 12:18 PM on July 18, 2013

170px-Bluetooth.svg[1]So this first week with my Google Glass has come with a lot of fun tasks like getting out and capturing the city through this new device. Yet, it also brought some annoyances – mainly the pairing of Glass to a mobile device. Whenever I got in my car, my Jabra hands-free unit kicked the Glass out and Glass never re-paired with it unless I manually re-paired.

Its not just Google Glass. I have a ZAGG folio on my iPad. I also have a Bluetooth headphones which I cannot use at the same time. I would like to use both – listen to music or podcasts and create an article or two. Instead, I pair the headset to my phone and the keyboard to my iPad.

As we continue down the mobile plug-free road, we’re going to be faced with the same problem as HDMI ports on a LCD TV have – too many devices fighting for limited connectors. Worst yet, we don’t want another device controlling our mobile Bluetooth connections in our pockets.

One way to solve would be to create a dual-band Bluetooth standard. This would be where the Bluetooth could pair 2 devices at the same time. Then you can have your headset and your keyboard work simultaneously.

Another option is a pass-through device. For example: device 1 could be a headset and device 2 (the passthrough) could be a keyboard. You would pair device 2 with device 1, then pair device 1 with the mobile. A little more complex and only effective if you have the passthrough device around.

Currently, Bluetooth version 4.0 has a data rate of 24 Mbit/s. A keyboard might not need that high of a data rate, whereas something like Google Glass might when pushing video. That is where data packeting can shine – giving 2 devices the ability to stay paired and the mobile device not overworked.

Of course, we also have to look at power consumption. Bluetooth low energy (BLE) protocol allows for Bluetooth to be in a nocturnal state. The device would have to also work dual-band so if device 1 is on and 2 is not, it can put half the device to sleep.

At any rate, these connection problems are only going to get worse as we rely on our mobile devices to become our primary computers. Current Bluetooth standards cannot meet that demand. With the growth of mobile devices starting to outpace computers (Gartner predicts 467,000 tablets sold vs. 271,000 PC’s in 2017), the list of companies wanting to connect to that device will grow. Soon enough, we may even need 4-band (or more) Bluetooth devices.

REVIEW: Jabra Freeway Hands Free Bluetooth Speaker

Posted by J Powers at 8:35 PM on June 19, 2011

I have an older car – with no Bluetooth and definitely no MP3 player. It hasn’t been a big deal – I have been using my iPhone through a device that sends an FM radio signal. But now I can take all those wires away and use this Jabra Freeway Bluetooth speaker. A pretty impressive device that was awarded the best of CTIA wireless in 2011.

Jabra Freeway Front View

Jabra Freeway Front View

The Good Stuff – Jabra Freeway

Let’s answer the “What is the FM button for” question. Well, it simply turns this device into a FM tuner. You can listen to the voice through the built-in speaker, or through the radio on a tuned frequency. Great for if the whole car needs to hear a conversation.

The Jabra Freeway charges on a Micro-USB plug. The device can be affixed to the visor of your car (or wherever you want to put it). Turn the power on and you hear a voice say “Jabra on – Ready for pairing”.

The pairing process on iPhone is pretty standard. Turn on Bluetooth and choose the Freeway. Key in the pin (if necessary) and the device will pair.

When you have to answer a call, just hit the button with the phone receiver on it. Need to hang up – do the same. Volume buttons on the bottom to turn up and down the audio and a mute button if sirens are piercing outside.

Even though it’s pretty big for a Bluetooth hands-free unit, the contour does make it work so you can place it on the visor without blocking the vanity mirror. However, the speaker will also do double-duty. Whereas most hands-free units only take the phone calls, you can play music right through this unit. Turn on the FM button and your music will transfer over.

Like most units nowadays, you can charge in a couple hours and be on standby for days. Even with moderate to heavy usage, you might have to re-charge once every 6-7 days.

Since the unit is most likely right above your head, I can talk to someone while my windows are rolled down. Everyone I talked to through the unit has said there was no issue in hearing me. That is the best test of the Jabra Freeway.

The Not So Good Stuff – Jabra Freeway

I wasn’t completely impressed with the speakers in the unit. There was a¬†noticeable¬†clip (a buzzing sound) when I was listening to either music or someone talking to me with the volume around 70-80%. I had to turn down the speaker a bit to make the clipping sound go away.

The devices’ wire clip to the visor causes a bit of concern – especially since this is a bigger unit. If I am driving down the highway with the windows rolled down, then get a blast from the sun – causing me to whip the visor to the side window – I could see that unit go flying into the cross-traffic. A piece of velcro could be the answer, since I don’t see a person moving this unit around too much.

There are a lot of voice commands in this unit. Other hands-free units let me say “Call – [person]” once I press the button. You have to learn the commands – although by asking for help, the unit will give you a list of options.

There is no pause or stop button for the music. You have to press voice and then say “Pause”. Would have been better with just the button.

The Verdict

It does have a couple flaws, but the device is pretty good. This is a unit that sells for $129.99, so the price might be the tipping point to saying no. After all, I don’t need a device to play my iPod music as much and I can get a hands-free bluetooth unit for $50 or less.

If the Freeway was to drop below $100 and fix the speaker clipping, then it will be worth it. Otherwise, if you need a nicely designed unit with a larger speaker, then the Freeway is for you.

Disclaimer: I did receive a unit from the company. This is a unbiased review of the Freeway.