Review – Jabra SP 700 Bluetooth Speakerphone

On December 18, 2008

A few years ago I traded in my 4-5 minute commute to work for one that, on a good day, is at least a half hour. (And if the roads are even the slightest bit slick or the traffic a little heavy, it takes at least 45 minutes or more.) While I know that’s not a long commute by most people’s standards compared to 4-5 minutes it’s been a significant change. As a result, I try to keep my eye on traffic patterns and I do my best to make the most of the time in the car. Sometimes it means listening to music or catching up on podcasts but often it means being on the phone either with someone else or with Jott.  Unfortunately, most of my driving between home and the office is on the highway and my Subaru Outback, while good with regard to helping ensure that I can get in when I need to, is pretty darn noisy. I’ve lost count of the number of times my assistant has told me that she could no longer hear me even though we had an excellent connection.

So since moving I’ve been on the lookout for a good hands-free system. I’ve found a number that are quite good but none that I really loved.

When it comes to a Bluetooth headset the best I’ve encountered thus far is the Etymotic etyBLU.  When it comes to a wired solution I’m a huge fan of the Etymotic h2fs  I reviewed last week. (No, I don’t work for Etymotic, I just love their products.)  Thing is, I don’t love having to remember to charge the headset and bring it with me and I’m not thrilled to have a long cord running from the phone to my ear. Both solutions work but they fall short of being ideal.

What I really want is a Bluetooth speakerphone that automatically connects when I enter the car and sounds fantastic on both my, and the other person’s, end. I know there are excellent solutions that are built into many new cars now. That will be one of the prerequisites when I purchase my next car but hopefully that won’t be for a good number of years. So in the meantime I need a different solution.

I tried many different Bluetooth speakers over the past few years and none of them worked all that well for me. Some were difficult to pair with my phone while others were constantly crackling even though the phone and the speaker were only a few feet apart. Others sounded good to me but the person on the other end could barely understand me. And other sounded good to the person on the other end but sounded lousy to me. I had all but given up hope of finding a portable option that was on par with the built-in ones… until last week.

I was in Costco the other day and walking through my favorite section of the store (yes of course it’s the electronics department) when I saw the Jabra SP700. It looked really cool and while that’s a stupid reason to think about buying a piece of electronics, when it comes to electronics I can be stupid. (And often am.)  So I bought it.  I bought it without doing any research, without checking reviews on it, and without even doing any price comparison shopping. (I told you, when it comes to electronics I can be stupid.)

So I threw out my money, right? Nope. This thing rocks.

This is by far the best Bluetooth speakerphone I have ever used. How good it is was clear from the minute I turned it on and it immediately announced (in a rather sexy British female voice, I might add) "pairing mode on". I punch the four digit code into my iPhone and "British sexy voice"  announced "connected". (How far we have come since the early days of Bluetooth and the frustration of trying to pair devices.)  Better yet, since I began using it, the re-pairing  each time I enter the car is immediate and flawless. I get in the car, turn on the device, and I hear "British sexy voice" greets me with "connected".

Since the iPhone’s Bluetooth is rather limited its really just good for making phone calls. Fortunately, the SP700  excels at making phone calls.  Calls are crisp and clean, and the connection is consistently strong. In the middle of a conversation with my assistant the other day I asked her how the connection was on her end.  She replied "Whatever it is you using its the best when you’ve had yet." (And she knows I’ve gone through a lot of different attempts to get a good speaker phone.)

For this purpose alone I give the device high marks and think it’s worth every penny I spent on it. The fact is, however, it’s much more than just a Bluetooth speakerphone. The device has a built-in FM transmitter that allows the sound to be sent through the car’s stereo system rather than the devices built-in speaker. (I should note, however, that the built-in speaker is plenty powerful.) But that’s just the beginning. If your mobile phone’s Bluetooth isn’t crippled the way the iPhone’s is, you can use the SP700 as the conduit to stream music stored on your cell phone through your car stereo speakers. In other words, with your cell phone in your pocket the music stored there can be sent to the SP700 to the Bluetooth connection and the SP700 will then send it to the car stereo using its built-in FM transmitter. And if, in the middle of your favorite song, a call comes in, it’ll pick up the call and stop the music so that you can take the call by simply tapping the device. It’s simple, elegant, and it works well.

Finally, I really appreciate the fact that Jabra ships the SP700 with a car charger and wall adapter so you have a choice of where you charge the device. Unfortunate, in order to keep the sleek form of the device Jabra chose to use a non-standard USB port. Yuck. Phooy. Feh. NOT!!!

Other things of note-

The speakerphone is fully charged 2 hours
The buttons are simple to use.
The DSP noise reduction & echo cancellation REALLY works





What I Like:
Looks Great
Works Better
"Sexy British Voice"

What I Don’t:
Unusual USB plug
Would I buy again: ABSOLUTELY! I Love This Thing!

The Jabra SP700 retails for $99. Amazon has it for just $64.63.
For more information or to order it directly from Jabra, visit Jabra’s site HERE.