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It wasn't too long ago that stereo Bluetooth was a rarity in most cell phones. Now, thanks to the popularity of music phones, stereo Bluetooth has become increasingly prevalent in most multimedia handsets. While regular Bluetooth (or Bluetooth 1.0) only allowed the use of a mono headset, stereo Bluetooth lets you stream stereo-quality audio. Stereo Bluetooth headsets have therefore become more commonplace in the market, but they aren't really sought after if all you want is to make calls and only listen to the music occasionally. The Jabra BT8010 solves that problem--not only is it a mono Bluetooth headset, but it also converts into a stereo Bluetooth headset simply by attaching a second earpiece. This simple innovation is what prompted CNET to nominate it for a Best of CES award in the MP3 category earlier this year. Along with a useful OLED display and built-in noise cancellation technology, the Jabra BT8010 is definitely a great choice if you have a music phone with stereo Bluetooth. The Jabra BT8010 is currently available for $149, which is a bit pricey for a Bluetooth headset, but the BT8010's features make it well worth the money.
The Jabra BT8010 consists of two pieces; the mono unit, which has the OLED display and all the buttons, and the stereo unit, which is the secondary earpiece that connects to the first via a flexible cable. When left unattached, the mono unit looks like most other Bluetooth headsets. It is slightly large (measuring at 2.4 by 0.5 by 1.0 inch) but that's probably due to the 0.8-inch scrollable OLED display on the front. We really like the appearance of the display--the blue characters look nice and bright when compared to the dark background. The display shows the headset's volume level, a battery strength indicator, whether or not the headset is in phone or music mode, the name of the device it's connected to, and caller ID. It also has a scrollable call history of the latest 15 incoming calls, plus you can scroll through the headset's own internal phonebook, which holds up to 30 contacts. You can dial directly from this list of numbers and you can erase it if you wish. You also can change the orientation of the screen depending on whether you're wearing it on the right or left side. The second earpiece looks like a mini-me version of the first one (measuring only 1.8 by 0.7 by 0.3 inch), except it doesn't have the screen nor the buttons. The silver wheel on the second earpiece has no purpose and is just for cosmetic reasons.
The BT8010 has quite an attractive black tapered design with a prominent silver jog wheel above the OLED display. The jog wheel lets you scroll through the contacts listed on the phone, or you could use it to control the headset's volume. Within the jog wheel is a multifunctional button that in addition to letting you answer and end calls, also lets you play and pause music. The headset's right spine is home to a menu button, a mode button, and an on/off slider switch that can be slid downward to activate pairing. The menu button lets you access the recent call list, the phonebook, and the settings menu. The mode button simply lets you toggle between phone and music mode.
Turn the headset over, and you'll find a rather large earpiece and a flexible ear loop. We're big fans of the flexible ear loop, as it can be bent in a number of ways to fit comfortably around the ear, plus it can be switched around to fit either the right or left ear. Even though the earpiece is the kind that rests against the ear instead of being inserted in, we still found it a tad uncomfortable, especially for smaller ears. We would've appreciated an in-ear style with a choice of earbud covers, but that's our personal preference. When the second earpiece is attached, you wear the cable around your neck much like a typical pair of headphones.
Features of the headset are pretty impressive. Aside from the internal phonebook of up to 30 contacts, you can use it to answer, end, and reject calls, play and pause music, or skip to the next song in a playlist. Other features include call waiting support, voice command support, last number redial, and the capability to put a call on hold. You also can pair up to two devices simultaneously. There's a vibrate alert, plus a list of preset equalizer settings for listening to music.
We paired the Jabra BT8010 with the Helio Heat, and it worked flawlessly. The moment we activated the music player in the phone, the headset went immediately into music mode, and we could hear the MP3 loud and clear. Call quality was fairly good as well, and callers heard us just fine even when we were walking down a busy sidewalk, thanks to the headset's noise cancellation of background noise. It comes with a carry pouch, an AC charger, and a USB cable. The Jabra BT8010 has a rated talk time of 10 hours, up to 6 hours of music streaming, and a standby time of 12.5 days. .