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Jabra BT500 review: Jabra BT500

The Jabra BT500 is one of the thinnest Bluetooth headsets around. Read our review to see if that's the only attraction.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read
Jabra BT500
There's no doubt that the Motorola Razr V3 took the cell phone world by storm when it burst on to the scene a year ago. Suddenly, thin was in, and competitors worked furiously to make mobile devices as small as possible. Now, even Jabra has joined the game with the Jabra BT500 Bluetooth headset. Styled closely to the Jabra BT250, the BT500 takes a cue from the Razr by being 30 percent slimmer than its predecessor. Although it's hardly the tiniest headset we've reviewed--that honor would go to the Nextlink Bluespoon AX Bluetooth headset--the BT500 measures a compact 4 by 2.4 by 0.6 inches and weighs 0.7 ounce. That said, the headset is somewhat pricey at $119.

Like the BT250, the Jabra BT500 has a crescent shape that fits behind either ear. Yet despite its trim profile, we didn't love the BT500's overall look. The Razr is sexy, but the BT500 is far from it. The gray coloring is too utilitarian, and the sharp angles and flat sides rob the headset of the aerodynamic curves we liked on the BT250. In all, the headset just looks too industrial and boring.


Jabra BT500

The Good

The Jabra BT500 is compact and has a comfortable fit.

The Bad

The downside of the Jabra BT500 is its unattractive form factor and stiff volume buttons.

The Bottom Line

The slim Jabra BT500 fits comfortably, but its performance and styling aren't up to the company's usual standards.

On the upside, the Jabra BT500's fit is relatively comfortable. The speaker rests just inside the ear, and you get a selection of four rubber ear gels in different sizes. The short boom mic also extends down just an inch, so the headset assumes a low profile when you're wearing it. Also, since there's no ear hook, users with long hair and earrings may find it easier to slip the BT500 on and off quickly without any entanglements.

The controls on the Jabra BT500 are a mixed bag. Closest to the boom mic is a small button that turns the headset on and off and controls calls. It's raised above the surface of the headset, so it was easy to manipulate when the BT500 was on our ear. Above it is a tiny button that is used for pairing. We're not certain why Jabra decided to break this button off separately, but the arrangement doesn't cause any problems. Our only complaint was that the control is set flat against the headset, so it's rather difficult to find and press. As a result, you'll want to pair the headset when it's off your ear. Finally, there's a volume rocker just above the pairing control, but disappointingly, they are stiff and not very tactile.

We tested the Jabra BT500 with the Sony Ericsson W600i and were able to pair the two devices quickly. Reception and clarity were mostly good, but they diminished noticeably when we used the headset outdoors. Likewise, volume was fine, as long as we were in a place without a lot of noise or wind. Callers said they could hear us fine, but they reported similar issues. Also, they could tell we were using a headset. Features on the BT500 include voice dialing, last-number redial, and USB charging. The rated talk time is 8 hours with the promised standby time of 10 days. In our tests, we met Jabra's rated standby time.