Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone Review @ ModSynergy.com
The cell phone industry is a hot commodity, more so than ever with the booming popularity of Smartphone's in everyone's hand it seems. The continued rise is expected to grow even further within the next couple of years and shows no signs of slowing down. Even the Chinese are helping the cause by bringing low cost Android Smartphone's that have surprisingly respectable and growing performance to the masses.
I travelled to China about three years ago to visit some of my grandma's family who lived in the far rural areas (with beautiful lush rice patties and mountains) and was amazed that these people who are considered poor, and live simple farming lifestyles have cell phones. I couldn't believe my eyes that literally everyone had at least one if not multiple candy-bar style phones, though no one had a landline as the infrastructure to get those in these rural areas are very hard to achieve. When I ventured to the more populated areas I quickly found out that there was a abundance of prepaid SIM cards one can use.
Most if not all cell phones on the market today come with Bluetooth technology, even the cheap ones have it. It's a wireless technology and feature we all love because it allows the convenience of hands-free calls for example, which has been an ongoing problem with distracted driving. Bluetooth is also used for transmission and streaming of music wirelessly to a Bluetooth speaker, and everyone with a cell phone has come across the infamous issue with their phone speaker not giving them any depth and enjoyment.
Distracted driving is a big problem on the streets of North America and one of the biggest issues on the road today is people either texting or reading messages with their phones in their hands when they are supposed to be on the steering wheel. Cell phone use are one of the more common ways people become distracted. You can usually spot someone doing this if their head is facing down. The common stereotype is that young people and teenagers are ones most likely to be doing this type of activity (its true), but it can happen to anyone young or older, even business people who have Blackberry devices can be seen distracted in or out of the car.
There are laws that have been made to combat and punish distracted driving, yet the rules are very hard to enforce, about the only thing that can be done is by educating people to change their habits because it really is preventable. These laws haven't stopped drivers from using their cell phones in their hands in the car, I see it at least once every day. Far too often you hear of sad stories of someone who was texting on their phone before they got into a car crash and or died in the process, I've read it so many times. A person who was texting but crashed before the text was sent, a man texting about needing to stop texting before driving off a cliff, a student texting before drifting onto oncoming traffic, these stories are too common.
If you do need to use the cell phone in the car while driving, today I will be reviewing one that you might find very useful in keeping your hands on the wheel and keeping your eyes on the road through the use of a Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone that clamps on the car sun visor from Jabra, a well known maker of headset and speakerphone solutions. If you're cell or Smartphone does not have a built-in speakerphone, or if the speakerphone inside your phone is very quiet and not loud enough, you probably do want to read on.
Today I am reviewing the Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone that can be found for under $60USD. As of the time of writing, the Drive can be purchased on sale for only $39.99USD through Amazon. Read on to see our review of the Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone and if it's worth your hard earned money.
Jabra is a global producer of innovative headset and speakerphone solutions. We employ around 875 people and we have sales offices all over the globe. We enable effortless communication for mobile users, office-based and contact center employees in all parts of the world.
Our brand, Jabra, is about empowering our customers. We recognize the tremendous potential inherent in technology. It can set us free and empower us to accomplish amazing things, on our own terms. Jabra’s products harness this technology and enable their users to work, live and play on their own terms. Always connected, always on and always ahead of the game.
At Jabra, we are fortunate enough to be able to build on the legacy of our parent company, GN Store Nord. With over 140 years of experience in designing state-of-the-art communications solutions, GN Store Nord gives us an outstanding foundation of technical expertise, upon which we can build the Jabra name.
Our headset range has repeatedly been recognized as the gold standard in innovation and design. We have received numerous product and design awards, including the CES Innovation, the iF product design award, a Red Dot Mobile Choice Best Accessory, the T3 Gold award and CNET Editor’s Choice. Receiving recognition for your work is always gratifying, yet we look at it as a challenge – a challenge to continually innovate and create designs that meet the needs of our customers in unexpected and liberating ways.
At Jabra, our responsibility is to provide products of exceptional quality that simply work, in any technological environment and with any way of working. We realize that our products are not used in isolation, which is why our strategic alliances are so vital to our business.
By working in partnership with the leaders of the telecommunications industry, we ensure that our products are relevant to our customers’ business. We ensure that they actually improve their way of working, by enabling seamless connectivity with their other systems.
Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone Overview
DRIVE AND TALK.SIMPLE AND SAFE:A Bluetooth® in-car speakerphone that can be paired with two devices simultaneously and used for hands-free calls in the car.
Talk on the phone and so much more: Jabra Drive is the perfect road companion for your mobile phone. It’s a Bluetooth™ in-car speaker that you can pair with up to two devices. Talk on the phone hands-free, listen to music from your mobile or mp3 player or use it with the GPS on your mobile to get voice-guided directions. So many functions in a discreet, easy-to-use device.
No hassle, no fuss: You need to get where you’re going, and Jabra Drive helps you on your way. It includes voice-guided instructions for pairing it with your mobile phone or other Bluetooth™-enabled device. It lets you know when you’ve successfully paired it with a device and when the battery is low.
Picks up your voice, and nothing else: Even though you’re on the road, you don’t want to sound like you are. Jabra Drive features noise-cancellation technology that dampens all of the road noise and gives you clear, crisp sound for your calls.
Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone Features
Your Jabra DRIVE lets you do all this:
Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone Technical Specifications
This is my first Jabra product review so I was pretty excited going into this review as I had no clue what to expect, so I was going into this review with an open-mind and unbiased viewpoint. The Jabra Drive marks only our second Bluetooth product and first vehicle oriented Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone ever reviewed.
The Drive comes in a simple yet effective product design with the real product shown in the center while the clear plastic container allows you to see what you're buying clearly. The top contains the yellow signature Jabra logo design and the bottom of the box is covered by a paper shell that describes exactly what the product is with its desired application as evidenced by the de-branded Audi steering wheel. The words describe the Jabra Drive as Drive and Talk and Simple and Safe and also it being a Bluetooth in-car speakerphone. The Drive is not marketed as Bluetooth speaker meant for music (though you can stream music to it), so if you're on the market for a Bluetooth speaker meant for music, something like our review of the Genius SP-960BT Portable Bluetooth Speaker would fit the bill.
Package contents are listed on the left side of the box while the right lists the benefits of the Jabra Drive which include it being easy to use with dedicated control buttons, voice guidance (only in English) and that it transmits music, podcasts and GPS directions. Other benefits include crystal clear sound and voice through the Jabra Drive's DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology that suppresses echoes and enhances only your voice, Advanced Multiuse which allows 2 Bluetooth devices to be simultaneously connected to the Drive, and that the speakerphone contains a built-in Lithium-Polymer battery that offers up to 20 hours of talk time and 30 days of standby time.
The rear of the box mentions that the Drive is a Bluetooth In-car Speakerphone that is meant for easy hands-free calls. The Drive comes with a single year warranty and is made in China.
Opening up the box will find the following package contents inside...
The Drive's bundle is pretty sparse for the MSRP of $59.99USD (see our Amazon link to purchase for $39.99USD) for the Bluetooth in-car speakerphone, but there's really not much else you can expect from such a simplified device. Maybe Jabra could have thrown in a small pouch for times when you want to take it out of the car, but based on its design, is likely not needed. As it stands everything that is needed is included.
Once you open the box you'll see that it rests inside a plastic shell that protects the speakerphone like a glove. The accessories box is at the bottom of the device where it includes the car USB charger, Micro-USB charge cable, quick start manual with product registration and warranty information instructions. The accessories box also provides an easy 1-2-3 instruction on how to pair it to your Bluetooth enabled phone. Step 1 is to turn it on, step 2 is to pair to your phone with a PIN of 0000 if needed, and step 3 is to put it on your vehicle's sun visor and start driving responsibly.
The quick start guide comes in a small fold out booklet and can be unfolded to see instructions that explain the controls of the unit, how to charge, power it on/off, changing the volume, accepting and ending a call , and also how to transmit music, podcasts and GPS directions through the Jabra Drive. Here below is a following look at the quick start guide on how to best utilize the Jabra Drive.
The Jabra Drive supports Bluetooth 3.0 specification for greater high-speed data transmission and wireless range. Jabra rates the wireless operating range from your Bluetooth enabled device to the Drive in-car speakerphone at about 10 meters or 33 feet, though this number is the standard specification, so everyone states the same numbers. This is all theory and in the real-world depends on so many variables.
However, one of great strengths of Bluetooth is the ability of its signal not needing line of sight between devices, so there's not too many things that can really affect or stop its signal from getting to its destination compared to other wireless technologies.
The Jabra Drive is a compact rectangular shaped Bluetooth speakerphone that fits in the palm of your hand. It measures 4.09 x 3.34 x 3.14" and is designed to slip and clip onto a vehicle's sun visor. portable enough to carry to the skate park, the beach, or simply at the office. The Jabra Drive is only a little bit larger than a credit card in terms of its footprint. Jabra has chosen what they feel is a fair compromise between portability and being able to deliver in the audio quality department.
This specific compact size has given Jabra the ability to stuff a single 36mm driver (speaker size) into the Drive in order to deliver a louder (monaural) sound than what any cell phone is capable of. The Drive's 36mm speaker is in theory capable of delivering an SPL of up to 94db, which would make it as loud as a jack hammer at 1-meter length. This should be enough sound pressure level to outweigh wind and road noise in a typical car with the windows shut.
As the speakerphone name suggests, the Drive is a speaker and microphone in one. The Jabra Drive contains an integrated microphone that will allow you to answer and make a call through the Bluetooth enabled phone, though you still need to use the phone in order to dial out, so you aren't able to put the phone completely away. The Drive is able to be a speaker and microphone complementing your current phone, it can do only these things and nothing more. It offers no AUX-IN connector so you can't use the Drive as a speaker for let's say your MP3 player, it's not that type of product. You can stream music from your Smartphone over to the Jabra Drive via Bluetooth, though that is not the intended use of the product, though it can do this.
The Jabra Drive contains an integrated 1100mA Lithium-Polymer battery which allows it to offer up to 20 hours of talk time and 30 days of standby time, giving it great battery life. Jabra Drive charges exclusively through the micro-USB connector with the provided charge cable and car USB charger. The manual says it will take approximately 2.5 hours from dead to full charge give or take. This is in line with the calculations of 1110mAh/500mA (normal USB charge rate) which would equal 2.2 hours.
Unlike the Genius SP-960BT which supports AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) which allowed the unit to control the playback functions on the speaker and not the Smartphone, the Jabra Drive doesn't have this feature. If streaming music to the Drive, it has no capability of rewinding, fast-forward, no playback functions can be controlled through the Drive, everything needs to be done on the Bluetooth device. The Drive just outputs the sound.
I love how the Jabra Drive looks visually, its style is understated and the two tone color scheme with the black and aluminum silver sun visor clip frame compliments each other.
The Drive is constructed 99% out of hard plastic construction, with the only other material being aluminum metal which forms the basis of the sun visor clip on the Drive. This aluminum clip forms a U-shape around the Drive and is where all the components are connected to. The Drive comes in either the black and silver version being reviewed, or the white and silver version.
I really like how the Jabra Drive is designed, it's compact but the styling is very nice. The lower half contains the large speaker grille protecting the 36mm driver and also acts as a multi-function answer and end button. The grille cannot be removed. When looking at the side profile you can see the amount of travel the button has to be pushed down in order to execute the command. You can tap the button, double tap, hold the button in order to complete various commands.
Above is where the microphone and volume up and down button lay.
Near center of the grille is a little phone icon which acts as an LED status indicator. This LED flashes either blue, red or green depending on the current status of the speakerphone. For example, when the Drive's status light flashes red it means there is less than 30 minutes of talk time left on the unit. When you recharge the unit using the micro-USB charge cable, the LED light turns red, once completed and fully charged will turn solid green. When pairing the drive for the first time the light flashes blue indicating pairing mode along with the audible tones/messages that help you along the way.
The in-car speakerphone is quite sturdy and aside from the aluminum sun visor clip which forms the frame of the unit, won't flex or break easily from the feeling it gives off. You won't have troubles with durability in the car because you immediately slip it on the visor, turn it on, and forget about it. The only time you might worry about it is when you decide to take it out of the car with you to the mall, office, etc. In this case the sun clip visor comes into handy as you can slip it into your purse pocket, slip it into your pant or breast pocket, it's easy with the clip to find ways to store the Drive in a safe place. I really feel it will travel and last a long time, that's the type of feeling it gives off, it doesn't feel frail or flimsy, feels like a solid product.
The Jabra Drive weighs dead even at 100 grams or 0.22lbs so its super lightweight, even with the integrated 1100mAh Lithium-Polymer battery. Aside from the volume up and down button rattling when shaken, nothing else makes noise or is abnormally loose inside.
On the right side there are only two things making this device very simple to operate. There is the ON/OFF slider switch, and the micro-USB charge connector.
I do not like how the USB connector is just simply out in the open, I'd much rather have Jabra have it fitted with a rubberized cover that will prevent dust from entering in.
I also do not fully enjoy this unit's power ON/OFF slider switch. On this review unit at least, the slider switch is hard to turn on and off using my thumb, it doesn't budge unless you give it more force. I find it much easier to use my finger nail to operate the switch.
Nothing here except the aluminum sun visor clip and two holes which are used to remove the screws on the backside if you ever need to, which will likely void warranty. Behind the sun visor clip is the backside of the actual speakerphone, a sticker lays that gives the model number, serial number, and safety regulations of the Jabra Drive.
Streaming Music Through Bluetooth...Some Background Info
First of all let me start off by saying that streaming music wirelessly through Bluetooth is very convenient. However, music that is streamed wirelessly always ends up compressed to a certain extent. This is more true if you have a FLAC music collection on your device, it's almost pointless in a sense as to expect the true FLAC bit-rate to be broadcasted in its entirety...it's not happening. Therefore as to talk about sound quality through Bluetooth, that's a hard thing to point into words because at the end of the day sound will be degraded to an extent over Bluetooth. I'm not sure how hardcore Audiophiles can cope with this as they are meticulously obsessed with sound quality!
This is almost (but not quite) the same thing if you've ever used an FM transmitter, where signals can leak from one frequency to the next affecting the sound quality. However, the biggest difference is that Bluetooth is digital while FM is analog, Bluetooth by nature of being digital can transmit more data. Unlike leaking frequencies in FM transmissions affecting sound quality, none of that happens (very rare) with Bluetooth because of something called SSFH or Spread-Spectrum Frequency Hopping. SSFH makes it very rare for any two Bluetooth devices to be transmitting on the same frequency channel at the same time and they are ever changing.
Don't get me wrong, music can sound excellent via Bluetooth, it's significantly and vastly improved over an FM transmitter solution in every regard. Though all I'm saying is that it depends on so many variables, for example your Bluetooth device. Cheap Smartphone's broadcasting music over Bluetooth versus good Smartphone's make a difference to the sound quality, loudness and clarity, believe it or not. I've personally experienced this using a cheap Chinese Smartphone versus a decent Samsung Galaxy Smartphone, there was a clear and noticeable difference and it was not placebo effect.
Factors such as the quality of the Bluetooth speaker and its transmitter/receiver components, other Bluetooth devices transmitting nearby that may be interfering, distances between the two BT devices, signal-to-noise ratio, these all affect the sound quality.
How to pair Smartphone with Jabra Drive
Pairing to the Drive with your Smartphone is very simple. With my Android Smartphone I was able to pair with my Samsung Galaxy under 15 seconds, obviously your results will vary depending on the device used.
With Bluetooth already enabled on your device, turn on the Drive and wait until it gives an audible tone notifying you Bluetooth is turned on. Hold the single button on the speaker grille for about 6 seconds to enter pairing mode (the status light starts flashing as an indicator of being in paring mode). Now search for BT devices on your Smartphone, the Jabra Drive name is found immediately, press OK and the unit is now paired, a lady's voice saying "connected" verifies the pairing process is complete.
You only need to pair the first time and after that the Jabra Drive will automatically connect each time your Smartphone's Bluetooth is enabled. In the event it does not automatically reconnect, simply tap once on the Drive and it will connect automatically.
Using the Jabra Drive
When the Jabra Drive is turned on for the first time, it gives an audible tone to let you know its operating. And audible tone is heard when turned off as well. BT at this point is activated and actively searching for nearby devices and will connect automatically to the Bluetooth device after the first pairing, if in the event it does not, simply tap the button once.
A blue LED indicator light also confirms the unit is on. This blue LED light never disappears, it's always on until you shut off the unit. Depending on what the Drive is doing, it may flash or turn to either red and green as well.
The Jabra Drive does have a pre-set auto shutoff feature to save battery life. After a period of time of inactivity, the Drive will automatically shut off its internal Bluetooth adapter, you'll see the blue LED completely disappear. Fear not though, you do not have to shut the Drive off and turn it back on again manually. To wake up the Jabra Drive from its sleep, simply tap the speaker grille button once and the unit wakes up and automatically connects to your Bluetooth phone.
How does it sound?
The Jabra Drive does as advertised, providing you convenient hands-free ability when receiving calls in the car and turn by turn directions when using a GPS app on your Smartphone.
In terms of pure loudness, the Jabra Drive is able to belt out very loud and will be able to overpower most noise when driving in a normal vehicle on the highway. Sometimes I feel it's too loud that it becomes shrill and piercing.
On the flip side, the sound quality when streaming music to the Drive leaves more to be desired, audiophile and non-audiophiles will be disappointed. It's very much different from the sound quality of the Genius SP-960BT portable Bluetooth speaker.
To be honest, it doesn't sound very much different from a Smartphone speaker, the only advantage is that the Drive is significantly louder, though not much better. This is likely because the 36mm driver (speaker) inside the Jabra Drive is very thin and therefore doesn't have enough room physically to deliver dynamic audio. I'm going to compare to this to listening to music on Dell computer machines with their integrated speaker.
There is pretty much no low-end, mid-range is a little muddy, and the high-end can get quite piercing with the trebles and highs when you raise the volume, eventually you will have to turn the volume down to make it manageable. If you're looking to use the Jabra Drive as speaker for music, look elsewhere.
In terms of portability, there's not much wrong with the Drive as it'll clip on any size thickness of the sun visor in any car, the aluminum sun visor clip frame is able to bend easily and has the clamping force in order to stay where you have placed it. When you take it with you out of the car, the sun visor clip makes in convenient to store in purses, pant pockets, breast pockets, backpacks, etc.
About the only feature that could have set the Drive over the top would have been support for AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) which would allow the unit to control the playback functions on the speakerphone and not through the Smartphone, the Jabra Drive doesn't have this feature. It's not a deal breaker because it's not advertised for music playback. So you must control music functions through your Bluetooth device since the Drive has no capability of rewinding, fast-forward, no playback functions can be controlled through the Drive.
Bluetooth Range - How Far Can It Go?
The specifications advise customers that the Drive has a wireless range of 10 meters or 33 feet. This is a standard Bluetooth range rating you'll see with all Bluetooth speakers on the market, though some can do it better than others.
With my Samsung Galaxy Smartphone playing music in my room wirelessly to the Jabra Drive for this test, (in the second floor of a 2-story home) I left the phone there, shut the door and headed down past the first floor and then headed straight into the basement.
All this was not without some incident though as I'll share at the end of this portion of the review.
The Drive continued to play, though it skipped at some points. It was only until I opened the door to the cold room and stepped inside that the Jabra Drive in-car speakerphone completely cut out music playback. Compared to the Genius SP-960BT portable Bluetooth stereo speaker I reviewed previously, that one played music intermittently but did not completely cut, and I did not experience intermittent cuts while moving down the home.
Mind you the basement cold room is surrounded by super thick concrete that is essentially the foundation to a home. I would estimate that from my room to the basement cold room was at least between 10-15 meters, which makes reception from the Jabra Drive very good. It can definitely meet its wireless range rating. Considering that the signal travelled through wood, metal, a variety of materials, that's impressive. As always your mileage may vary depending on your Bluetooth device, I was using a Samsung Galaxy Discover Smartphone.
However, all is not finished. I found that the Jabra Drive's reception was very susceptible to having its speaker cut. As I stated above, I had the music skip at some points, never had that issue with the Genius SP-960BT portable Bluetooth speaker.
I found out that the Jabra Drive was very sensitive, even to the point that covering the unit with my own hands would have the music cut out intermittently or completely, even if it was close to the connected Bluetooth device. It started skipping when I stepped out of my room, when I started going to the basement, this was due to how I was holding it in the palm of my hands, my hand was covering a good portion of the unit causing these issues to happen.
Fortunately, this type of covering of the unit with hands in a vehicle sun visor application is likely never to happen, I never had any issues with the Jabra Drive in the car while driving in terms of dropped calls, dropped reception, everything is so close in a vheicle that you'll likely never experience any of the sensitivity issues as written above when covering the unit with your bare hands. I just thought that this sensitivity and signal dropping because of my own hands was something interesting to point out.
Where To Buy
The Jabra Drive has an MSRP of $59.99USD. For the time being it is now on sale at Amazon.com for only $39.99 with free shipping! The product is sold by and shipped directly by Amazon so you can buy with confidence.
If you are thinking of purchasing the Jabra Drive in-car speakerphone, please use our Amazon link below, it will help us out greatly.
At the end of the day, the Jabra Drive Bluetooth In-Car speakerphone does what its advertised to do, which is to provide hands-free calls and directions from your phone. It allows you to keep your hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road preventing the driver from getting distracted.
The Jabra Drive is easy to operate since it has three usable buttons, it's easy and quick to pair with a Bluetooth enabled device, and it offers impressive battery life with up to 20 hours of operation.
The 36mm speaker inside the Drive allows the speakerphone to belt out very loud, sometimes too loud that it can become piercing, a downfall associated with the speaker unit not having the best audio dynamics (but certainly not the worse), though in a way it's good for those you who drive in the highway than in the city as that is usually louder and the Jabra Drive is loud enough to overpower that noise. The sound quality while disappointing for audiophiles and for music use, gets the job done when receiving voice calls and turn by turn directions through a GPS app on the Smartphone. If you can accept it's positive's and negative's and are seeking for a easy to use and loud speakerphone, then the Jabra Drive is well worth the sale price of $39.99USD, the sole reason why I'm recommending it.
The best thing about the Jabra Drive is the affordable price, especially right now at the time of writing since it's on sale directly through Amazon for $39.99USD with free shipping. If you're thinking of purchasing the Jabra Drive in-car speakerphone, please use our Amazon link, it will help us out.