I've had an ICON since Christmas, and it's by far the best BT headset I've ever had. I also use it for Skype and similar when travelling, so I don't have to carry my larger wireless USB headset with me.
But when using the ICON as a headset for Skype, I am forced to use the narrowband HSP (headset) profile for VOIP calls, so the quality is pretty bad - not the ICON's fault, that's just the limit of the HSP profile spec, which is designed for mobile phones rather than HD VOIP. A2DP is nice, but it does not support audio in - only audio out is supported by the spec - it's designed to stream music, not provide headset functionality.
So my question is, would the new ICON HD + NERD help me on this front? From what I understand, the NERD is simply a USB Audio to Bluetooth adapter to reduce the complexity of connecting the ICON HD to a computer. In my mind, this means that the NERD still communicates with the ICON HD using the decidedly low-band HSP profile when two-way audio is required, such as during VOIP calls. Is this true?
If so, the only real benefits would come from better audio hardware in the headset - but I believe the bottleneck to better quality lies in the autio bandwidth from the dongle, not the audio hardware in the headset.
What I am looking for is A2DP quality, but both ways, not just audio out. Will the ICON HD + NERD deliver this?
I'd be VERY interested in knowing this...I have a plantronics headset which has the UC+ thing (doing USB audio to/from the PC) and it's amazing, but I keep having problems with their charger so I want to switch to something else. Skype calls in high-quality are a must for me and my job so if I have to go low quality for that, then I just can't buy one of these. Is there an answer so I can hit SEND on my purchase?
Hey gdi2K and JuanNelly! Thanks for your questions on the Jawbone Forum.
The NERD automatically switches between the microphone & speaker and audio optimized mode on the headset when you use different applications. When listening to music, you will get A2DP quality audio, over a much-improved speaker compared to the original ICON. When using Skype, the new ICON HD+NERD will switch to the microphone & speaker mode. While headset mode won’t be of A2DP quality, the audio in and out has significantly improved due to the new speaker.
Many thanks for your reply, Jaimie.
I've done some more reading about this, and now understand that to achieve two-way, wideband audio (or HD Voice) via Bluetooth, HFP (hands free profile) version 1.6 is required (all current Jawbones are only 1.5). See here for example.
Plantronics now have a headset which supports this, along with an HD capable dongle - will Jawbone offer something similar soon? (LG and Jabra also have headsets supporting this, but I wasn't able to find much info on USB dongles with HFP 1.6 support).
I was going to lash out on a Savi 440 for its wideband audio via DECT, but if HD audio via Bluetooth is on the horizon I'll definitely wait it out!
This is interesting stuff!
I see the PRO UC (ver 2) model out there that includes the USB dongle.
I get my phone may not be able to make use of it as the phone would need to support 1.6 profile also ... but ... I would be interested to see if the UC works with 1.6 via dongle now on PC based communication.
Hmmm ... perhaps its time to revisit Platronics again ... last time around ... the fit was awesome ... but folks said I sounded better with the ICON ... so the ICON won. Maybe with the latest greatest buzz words and tech in Platronics now ... maybe it is on par with the ICON??? I am not sure if I like the form factor of the UC either though.
Decisions .... decisions ...
I'm not sure, but based on what JuanNelly said above, I have a feeling that Plantronics must use two different technologies in their UC+ headsets - Bluetooth for comms with mobile phones (cell phones) and some form of RF / DECT for PC to headset comms via USB to provide wideband voice - I was hoping that's what the NERD would do, but it doesn't.
The Voyager Pro HD looks nice and you can buy a compatible USB adapter (expensive!) - I think that would probably do what I want, but I'm not sure - the available info on these things is shoddy.
I would much prefer to buy another Jawbone though - much prefer their size, style and noise cancellation.
I have one of these USB wireless headsets for Skype along with my regular ICON for the car that I'll continue to use until there's something better available that allows me to consolidate. Don't get that USB headset I linked to by the way - you can hear yourself as you speak, and you can't turn the feature off or change the volume - really annoying!
Sorry for the misinformation! The Plantronics Voyager Pro HD only has HFP 1.5 according to its spec sheet, so no true HD there! I guess the dongle available as an accessory is just a regular USB Bluetooth dongle (no information about it on the site).
Best stick with the UC models from Plantronics if you want better PC audio then, assuming it does what we think, see above...
I have to agree ... I have found no documentation to say that the PRO UC has HFP 1.6 either.
The PRO UC appears to be the PRO HD, just with the USB adapter.
Hence, the PRO UC appears to offer nothing different than what the current ICON HD offers.
If the ICON HD and NERD can be updated to HFP 1.6 ... that would obviously be awsome.
I am not sure though if HFP 1.6 is software based, hardware based, or a combination of both. I have heard that Android ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) is supposed to offer HFP 1.6. I am not sure however if that is dependent on the phone/device having compatible hardware too.
Platronics, does have a HFP 1.6 headset out there. The reviews however state that its noice reduction pretty much ... sucks.
I too prefer the form factor of the ICON/HD/ERA so I am not sure if I would have "jumped ship". Jawbone's noise reduction tech still usually gets top nods too on the review sites I find.
The ICON HD/NERD combo really is pretty good. There is definitely a difference though when the ICON HD switches from audio only mode to headset (audio and voice) mode. The latter being not as good. Let me rephrase that a little. Audio only on the ICON HD is awesome (compared to the ICON). Headset mode on the HD is better than the ICON as the HD's better speaker and volume kick in; outgoing voice is the same I would say. I have recorded my voice via PC based conferences and cell phone based calls ... I don't hear a difference. I like being cordless at when I work from home. I can still listen in on the conversations ... and get water for example. Currently I am corded and would have to put my headset down.
If headset mode could be HD audio and voice ... drool.
Thanks for your input about the quality differences between headset mode and normal mode on the ICON HD+NERD - that's what I expected.
But I believe the UC models from Plantronics do offer superior sound when connected to a PC. On their product page, they say:
This was also an interesting read abou the HD capabilities of the various Plantronics models:
That Plantronics model actually does exactly what I want, but I don't like the size / style, and it's pricey at $200. If it were the size of an ICON I'd go for it...
© 2013 Jawbone.