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Battle of the Bluetooth Headsets – Plantronics Discovery 665 vs. Aliph Jawbone

I’ve been in the market for a new Bluetooth headset so I went ahead and bought two of the highest-rated headsets on the market – the Plantronics Discovery 665 and the Aliph Jawbone. They both have serious pros and cons but I’d have to say that the Plantronics wins for ease of use and style and the Jawbone dominates in terms of voice quality.

Fit – These two headsets offer very different fit profiles right out of the box. Overall, I thought that the Discovery had a much better natural fit in my ear, with or without the option earloop. I think this is due to the face that the Discovery comes with larger ear gels that fit my ear more comfortably. Also, the Discovery headset itself is light and well-balanced and I found it stayed in my ear quite nicely. I can’t say the same about the Jawbone. The hard plastic ear gels that come with the device simply would not stay in my ear and became uncomfortable after about an hour of wear. The Jawbone is also a significantly heavier headset and I found it harder to manage once it was on my ear. The advantage here clearly goes to the Discovery.

Style – Again, I think the Discovery dominates here. The Discovery is a smaller device, is lighter, and is frankly easy to carry. The Discovery comes with a combo charging/carrying case that protects the device if you want to toss it into your pocket or bag. The Jawbone offers no such option. The Discovery is small enough to wear discreetly at all times – when you wear the Jawbone, people know you’re wearing a headset. My biggest complaint about the Jawbone was that I didn’t quite know where to put it when I wasn’t wearing it. It feels a lot more fragile than the Discovery and I couldn’t help but want a carrying case for it when I wasn’t wearing it.

Battery Life – Both headsets offered plenty of battery life. I give a slight nod to the Discovery here because the carrying case for the 665 doubles as a charging base station. As such, it was much easier to keep the Discovery charged. The Discovery also ships with a car, PC, and wall charger vs a wall + PC charger for the Aliph Jawbone.

Voice Quality – Ultimately, the point of a Bluetooth headset is great voice quality. Here, there is no comparison – the Jawbone absolutely crushes everything else. While the Discovery is significantly better than most other Bluetooth headsets in terms of noise cancellation, voice quality, and every other meaningful dimension, it simply doesn’t compare to the Jawbone. The Jawbone, when properly fitted, blocks out almost all road noise from cars, background noise at airports, and any other ambient annoyance. I’ve been amazed at how clear calls sound when I make them from the Jawbone. I’ve made calls at busy conferences, airports, street corners, and in my car on the freeway and in all cases the voice quality for the recipient is excellent.

One thing worth noting is that the Jawbone is a real treat if you invest in some Jabra ear gels. I found that I had a hard time hearing callers when I used the hard plastic ear covers that shipped with the headset. With the Jabra ear gels in place, I was able to hear others better and keep the Jawbone in my ear.

Overall – My primary use case is calls in the car on the freeway. For this use case, there is no comparison – the Jawbone wins. However, if your car is well sealed against wind noise or if you don’t need a great in-car solution I’d highly recommend the Discovery – it’s a superior headset in terms of look and feel, fit (out of the box), and offers excellent voice quality.

If you own or use one of these headsets, I’d love your thoughts.

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