Jabra is a significant brand name in the Bluetooth headset business, but that doesn't mean Jabra is resting on its laurels. The company has recently introduced the Jabra BT8040, which promises to blow other Bluetooth headsets out of the water with its simple, yet elegant design along with its impressive host of features. They include the ability to connect to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, volume equalization technology, along with an acoustic shock protection that protects the ear from sudden loud noises. But probably the most interesting feature is that it is also the first mono Bluetooth headset we know of that actually supports A2DP for wireless music streaming (Most current A2DP devices are either stereo headsets or speakers). The BT8040 also offers tremendous bang for your buck--it's surprisingly affordable at only $79.99.
The Jabra BT8040 doesn't look very flashy, but we still liked its design. Wrapped in matte black with streaks of silver, the BT8040's look has a tinge of high art combined with a touch of corporate sensibility. Measuring 2.54 inches long by 0.71 inches wide by 0.47 inches deep, the BT8040 has smooth tapered sides and slightly curved edges on the top and bottom. A small dimpled circle in the middle acts as the multifunction call button, while two raised slivers on the top left and right act as the volume controls. We found the multifunction button easy to press, even when the headset is worn. The volume controls felt a bit stiffer, but they are easy to press as well. A small LED indicator sits on top of the volume controls.
Flip the headset over and you'll find an ear tip made up of a gel-like substance. Jabra calls this the comfort Ear Gel tip, and it's designed to fit comfortably in the ear without the need for an ear hook or ear loop. Though we're normally not fans of the ear tip design because of fit issues, the BT8040 comes with three different-size ear tip covers for different-size ears. However, the headset still requires a bit of an adjustment period when we were first putting it on--it's not the sort of headset we could just put in our ear and go.
Unlike most other headsets, the BT8040 really shines when it comes to features. Probably the most interesting feature is that it is the only mono Bluetooth headset we know of that actually supports A2DP, meaning that it can stream music wirelessly. Most A2DP devices on the market today are stereo Bluetooth headsets or portable speakers. The question then becomes: Why would you want to listen to music with a mono headset, when you can listen to it with a stereo headset? The answer lies perhaps in the purpose of the BT8040--streaming music isn't its primary role, it's simply a bonus for those who want to listen to a bit of music while doing other things, like waiting in line at a cash register. More serious audiophiles would probably opt for the stereo headset, while the casual fan might opt for something like the BT8040 instead.
Aside from the A2DP support, the BT8040 has MultiPoint technology, which not only lets you pair up to 8 devices, but it also lets you connect to two of them simultaneously. Therefore you can use the same headset with two cell phones at the same time if you so choose. It also has an intelligent call handling feature that interrupts music when there's an incoming call. Other features include answering, ending, and rejecting calls; auto pairing; voice command support; last number redial; mute; a quiet mode; call hold/call wait support; plus a low battery status indicator.