Jabra SUPREME UC MS Headset review: Jabra SUPREME UC MS Headset

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Connecting the Bluetooth adapter to a PC lets you chat hands-free on software phone calls or with your mobile handset. Sarah Tew/CNET

What really differentiates the Jabra Supreme UC from many other Bluetooth headsets, though, is its Jabra Link 360 Bluetooth adapter. Once you plug the adapter into a free USB port on your Windows PC (sorry Macs are not supported), the Link 360 pushes computer audio to the Jabra Supreme UC's headset. This includes sound from Skype sessions and phone calls made with your office handset. For office calls to function properly, however, your workplace must use an IP-based software telephone system.

The Supreme UC can also stream multimedia audio, such as podcasts, music, and Internet radio, from phones. In my view it's a feature I wouldn't use often, only under extreme duress like if my more suitable stereo headphones self-destructed or ran out of juice. Still, it's good to have the option as a backup.

Performance
Pairing the Jabra Supreme UC was a cinch. I just flipped its boom arm open, told my Android phone to link up within the Bluetooth settings menu, and was connected in minutes. My test handset was an HTC One S phone running Ice Cream Sandwich.

I had a similarly pleasant experience with the Supreme app. After downloading and opening the software, I was able to use the application to choose from various noise-canceling profiles. Additionally, the software provides a virtual slider so you can adjust the level of noise cancellation manually. Keep in mind that these settings control the level of noise reduction you experience through the headset, and not what callers hear.

Even so, the Supreme UC features dual microphones and digital signal processing to scrub out background din. On my test calls over a mobile phone line strolling on New York City streets, callers reported that the rumble of cars and wind noise was practically nonexistent. On the other hand, callers also said there was a distinct background hiss and that the beginnings and ends of my sentences were clipped, perhaps by aggressive audio processing. On my end, audio pumped through the big earpiece sounded very clear and had plenty of volume, forcing me to turn the headset down.

Installing the Supreme UC's PC Bluetooth adapter was straightforward too. I just inserted the gadget into a free USB port and Windows automatically detected and installed the device. Because the adapter is prelinked to the Supreme UC, it immediately began pushing PC audio to its headset.

I did run into one frustrating glitch though. While audio on my end sounded crystal-clear, callers reported that transmitted sound was terribly muffled and barely audible. Audio quality got even worse as I walked away from my PC. It turned out that my laptop's weak internal mic was transmitting my voice instead of the Supreme UC's more sensitive noise-cancelling microphone. I fixed the issue by selecting Jabra 360 UC as the system's primary recording device within the Windows control panel. It's a quick, simple fix, but it took me several hours to troubleshoot the problem. When the Supreme UC was operating properly, I enjoyed clean and crisp sound whether accepting or placing calls from my cell or office line. Even better, callers said that while I was chatting from my laptop they couldn't tell I was using a wireless Bluetooth headset.

Jabra claims the Supreme delivers 6 hours of talk time and 15 days running on standby. I personally had my test unit running for at least four days both on standby and having placed multiple calls plus listening to streamed audio. At the end of it all, the Supreme still had 3 hours of talk time in its reservoir.

Conclusion
The Jabra Supreme UC comes with an extremely confident name and it delivers a lot of useful capabilities, including powerful noise cancellation and advanced voice-control features. It even slickly unifies office and mobile phone calls if your employer uses a modern IP-based software telephone system. For the $149 price, though, plenty of smaller and cheaper headsets like the Plantronics M155 and Motorola Elite Sliver provide more basic functions. Another sophisticated yet less expensive headset that boasts a PC and Mac link is the package called Jawbone Icon HD + The Nerd. Still, if you seek all the original Jabra Supreme's capabilities plus a PC connection, the Supreme UC is worth checking out.

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