X

Jabra BT8030 Bluetooth headphones/speaker review: Jabra BT8030 Bluetooth headphones/speaker

Jabra BT8030 Bluetooth headphones/speaker

headshots_nicole_lee.jpg
Nicole Lee
headshots_nicole_lee.jpg

Nicole Lee

Former Editor

Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.

See full bio
4 min read

Jabra made headlines early last year when it debuted the Jabra BT8010, the first mono-to-stereo convertible Bluetooth headset. The BT8010 was even awarded Best of CES 2007 in the MP3 category. This year, the company has once again delved into the hybrid Bluetooth market with the BT8030, the world's first combined Bluetooth speaker and headphones. Yes, the BT8030 is a pair of headphones that can be folded out into a portable speaker. Though it's pretty bulky, we have to admit we like the idea. That said, we had issues with the fit and comfort, and the inconvenient location of its buttons. The Jabra BT8030 retails for a pricey $249.99; however, you could probably find a cheaper price, if you shop around.

7.7

Jabra BT8030 Bluetooth headphones/speaker

The Good

The Jabra BT8030 is a combined Bluetooth speaker and headphones with great sound quality, especially in headphones mode.

The Bad

The Jabra BT8030 is a bit too bulky for our tastes. The Jabra's buttons are in an inconvenient location. In speaker mode, the sound quality could be improved. Also, it's a little on the expensive side.

The Bottom Line

The Jabra BT8030 is great for those who want a Bluetooth speaker and headphones all in one device, but beware of certain design pitfalls.

At first glance, the Jabra BT8030 looks like a huge pair of headphones, and indeed, it is. From earpiece to earpiece, the BT8030 seems to be carved out of a single block of hard plastic and foam. Weighing a hefty 10.9 ounces, the BT8030 is made out of polycarbonate, thermoplastic polyurethane, acrylic butadiene styrene, and steel. The outer shell of the BT8030 has a lovely black matte soft-touch finish. The inner portion of the headphones is covered in thick black foam padding. The earpieces are covered in a softer spongier padding,and are made to rest directly on the ear.

As a pair of headphones, the BT8030 fits very snugly over the head. It felt pretty comfortable at first, thanks to the amount of padding. You can also adjust the length of the headband for the size of your head. However, as we wore it for longer periods of time, the BT8030 started to feel almost too snug, like our head was in a vice. Also, the weight of the BT8030 eventually got to us. It felt like wearing a small brick on our head. If you're used to wearing heavy headphones, this might be fine for you, but we weren't too pleased about it.


The Jabra BT8030 can be folded out into a portable speaker.

But there's a hidden function with the BT8030. There are two quick-release buttons located near the headband, which when pressed, will spread the earpieces of the BT8030 out left and right to form portable speakers. Doing this also triggers the headset to start blasting the sound louder, as is appropriate for the volume on a pair of speakers. The design is quite unusual, but it works, and we liked the sound quality.

On the back of the left earpiece are the Answer/End button, volume rocker, and the Power/Pairing button. The right earpiece is home to the Play/Pause key, plus the Skip Next/Previous keys. In speaker mode, the placement of these buttons isn't an issue, as they can all be faced up. But when the BT8030 is in headphone mode, these buttons are inconveniently located near the back of the head, and you'll have to play a guessing game to figure out which button is the right one. The buttons themselves are raised enough above the surface to easily press, even though they're a tad on the skinny side.

Features of the Jabra BT8030 include answering, ending, and rejecting calls; last number redial; voice-command support; and the ability to transfer calls from the headset to the phone and vice versa. The BT8030 also supports the A2DP Bluetooth protocol for wireless streaming of music, as well as the AVRCP protocol that lets you control your music from the headset. You can simultaneously connect the BT8030 to both a phone as well as a media player. Incoming calls will pause the music, which can then be resumed once the call is over.

We paired the Jabra BT8030 with the Helio Mysto, which has stereo Bluetooth capability. The pairing process went smoothly, and we were up and running within seconds. The sound quality was excellent--the BT8030 comes with built-in Zirene bass software that simulates strong bass sound quite effectively. Streaming music sounded great in both headphone and speaker mode. However, we prefer the headphone mode for a louder volume and stronger sound. The volume on the speaker mode seems to be limited--we couldn't truly blast the sound as loud as we wanted.

The device's call quality was pretty good. The Jabra BT8030 has good digital signal processing for optimal sound, and we had no trouble hearing our callers and vice versa. However, callers did notice quite a bit of background sound. The BT8030 is probably better suited for quieter environments. Call quality wasn't so great in speakerphone mode though; callers had to ask us to speak up a few times, and volume was a tad soft.

The Jabra BT8030 has a rated battery life of 26 hours in music mode, 32 hours in talk mode, and standby time of 25 days.

7.7

Jabra BT8030 Bluetooth headphones/speaker

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8