Jabra M5390 USB

Jabra's business-centric Bluetooth headset might be pitched at the boardroom, but it made us feel like we were stuck in a call centre.


8.1
CNET Rating


Design

Jabra's M5390 multi-use headset certainly couldn't be accused of coming sans peripherals. Compared to many other Bluetooth headset kits, it's practically overloaded. First there's the rather large earpiece, which can optionally be worn with a supplied overhead headband for comfort. That plugs into a base station that recharges the headset as well as acting as the communication hub for the headset's other functions. You also get a small (and arguably pretty easily lost) USB key for PC softphone use. There's little doubt that this is a headset aimed pretty squarely at the corporate market, and only peripherally at the market that wants a Bluetooth headset to wear out and about. The sheer size of the headset means that practically anybody wearing it outside will feel rather self conscious, and in our tests one of our testers commented angrily that it made them recall working in a call centre many years ago.

Features

The Bluetooth side of the headset will pair with any Bluetooth 1.1 compliant device, but that's not all that exciting. For a whole lot less than the AU$275 asking price of the M5390 you could get that. What the M5390 does is pair with multiple communication devices within an office environment. It'll pair with up to two Bluetooth-capable mobile phones simultaneously. It'll also pair with a desk phone via standard RJ11 connection, and finally with a range of PC-based softphone clients, including Skype. The basic idea here is that it's the one headset that you use with all your phones. There's one minor omission here for those looking for a complete solution, and it's that you'll still have to lift your desk phone handset to make calls.

Performance

Installing and synchronising the headset with a desk phone, softphone and mobiles was smooth enough, and Jabra's supplied printed documentation walks you through various scenarios depending on your phone types. It's possible to pair with different mobile phones, although not simultaneously.

In physical use we found the larger than normal earpiece something of a challenge to wear. Different ears take to ear loops in different styles, and we found glasses to be a particular challenge, exacerbated by the longer and heavier earpiece. The trade-off for the size is that the buttons on the side are larger than on most earpieces, and thus easier to press without looking.

Audio quality on softphone and mobile calls was what you'd expect from a Bluetooth headset. We could be heard clearly in conversations and hear our callers clearly, but there was predictably some complaint about slight echoes within the voice track. Using the base station as the recharging station works very well, and undeniably makes the battery life — rated at six hours talk time, 60 hours standby — extend nicely as well.

We ultimately couldn't shake the suspicion that the M5390 might think of itself as a premium executive headset, but it can't help but look like a call centre model. Within an office environment it can work very well indeed, but we can't see too many people being happy to wander city streets with this much plastic protruding from their ears.

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