How precious can this new Stone get?

Though it's smart and stylish everything seems a bit overwrought and overdone. (SUPPLIED)

You might think that hands-free mobile phone headsets are all much of a muchness, but Jabra has clearly set out to do something different with its Stone model. This intention is signalled by the packaging. The Stone does not come in the sort of modest pack normally used for phone accessories. Instead it is housed in a large matt black cardboard tube with an enigmatic white circle on the side and nothing to indicate what is inside. Remove this and the Stone is revealed beneath a round transparent cover like some precious museum artefact housed in its own display case.

When you peer inside you see a round black pebble-shaped object that certainly doesn't look like a hands-free. The mystery is revealed when you remove the device from the box and see that the earpiece clips into the pebble. Take it out and you have an appealingly compact one-piece headset. The loop that goes over the ear is integral to the design and the Stone is light and unobtrusive to wear. A choice of rubbery eargels helps you find the perfect fit.

That pebble is in fact a portable charger. Both the headset and the pebble contain batteries that are charged from the mains. Then, when you are out and about, you can pop the earpiece into the charger to boost its battery. Jabra even supplies a clip that lets you attach the charger to your belt, though I would suggest that anyone who actually did this would be inviting ridicule.

The controls are, like the design, unusual in that you can't see them. You take and end calls by tapping the earpiece and adjust the volume by moving your finger up or down a tiny touch panel. You switch the headset on by removing it from the charger and turn it off by replacing it. The initial Bluetooth pairing is easy, and you can set up your mobile so that it pairs automatically every time you pop the Stone out of the charger.

The sound quality is fine, but does not stand out particularly compared with other headsets.

Jabra suggests in the manual that you might like to listen to music through the Stone, but since stereo has been the recorded music standard for more than 40 years I can't see this appealing to many people other than Beatles fans who bought the mono box set. The Stone is quite pricey and though it's smart and stylish everything seems a bit overwrought and overdone, from the packaging to the portable charger.

If you want a hands-free that stands out from the crowd then by all means go for it, but there are many cheaper alternatives – including some from Jabra – that perform just as well.


The Jabra Stone wireless headset is available at all authorised retail stores across the UAE for Dh499

 

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