The Jabra Stone 2 is a surprising bluetooth unit with a few very good features that are sometimes overshadowed by awkward ones.
Good, functional design
Decent acoustics with noise reduction
Real, hands-free operation with voice-activated "answer" and "decline" functions
Portable charging egg with clothes clip
Good voice quality on the listener's end
Sometimes bizarre design decisions including right-ear-only orientation
Shorter than advertised talk-time
Hollow sounding voices
Ridiculous, illogical battery life claims (ten hours)
Equally ridiculous multimedia device claim
It is easy to call the Jabra Stone 2 "awkward" because it isn't really bad; in fact, some of its features are real, unique innovations which, with slightly better implementation or with less grandiose claims would be considered great in another device. With the battery life as one important exception, the stone 2 does what the manufacturer claims it does and if you wish for anything at all, you wish that it did it only slightly better.
Out of it's oval plastic box, the Stone 2 is a sleek package, shaped like a flattened, black egg that functions as a charging station and it is here that the innovation begins: putting the headset into the charging station turns it off; taking it out again turns it on and, once you've paired the headset with your phone, creates a bluetooth connection quickly and dependably.
Another fine innovation in the Stone 2 is its digital signal processing features. The Stone 2 borrows a page from other manufacturer's playbooks and uses a voice for important announcements such as the headset's battery level and reading off the phone number when a call is received. The Stone 2 allows the user to take, or reject calls by saying "accept" or "decline" after the voice has read the last digit of the number (saying them before then seems to drop the call directly to voicemail). This is a great feature for people who simply *must* talk on the phone while driving; it allows them to keep both hands on the wheel.
The Stone 2's voice feature ignores one aspect of contemporary culture: in a world full of cell phones that store libraries of phone numbers, fewer people memorize phone numbers as they once did, and having a string of numbers read to a user might not tell him or her anything useful.
Those are all very praiseworthy design features but once you go past them, things get rocky.
Used in a quiet environment, the Jabra Stone 2 is a stellar performer. Listeners report great sound, while the user hears the voice on the other end as somewhat hollow, but certainly clear and recognizable. In noisier, or windier environments, conversations rapidly become exchanges of "huh?" and "What?" despite Jabra's claim of effective noise-cancellation.
One definitely edgy aspect of the Stone 2's design is the decision to use an asymmetrical, right-ear-only design. The Stone 2 is certainly stylish and well-fitting in the ear (better than the great majority of bluetooth units I've ever owned or tested including Blue Ant and the (early) Aliph Jawbone), however, no matter how good the fit, the design begs the question, `what about people with reduced or absent hearing in their right ears?" Jabra's obvious answer appears to be, `use something else.'
Things become well and truly strange when you come to the Stone 2's battery life. Jabra Claims that the Stone 2 unit alone has a two-hour battery life and that it will run for up to ten hours with the charging cradle. The second of these claims lacks even a toehold in reality.
The Stone 2 unit I have for review doesn't like long phone calls. It has never lasted for more than ninety minutes before the voice started announcing "low battery" and the claim that the Stone 2 with the charging cradle operates for up to ten hours is based on a logical dodge: if the user makes phone calls that drain the battery, and puts it back in the charging cradle until it is fully charged, repeating the process until all the combined power of the charger and headset is exhausted, the total time the headset was functional might tally up to ten hours, but it will be ten hours broken up by charging cycles when the unit will be either useless, or only partially charged.
By this reasoning, Jabra might as well say that the Unit has twenty-hours of talk time because you'll use much of those twenty hours to get the full ten hours of charge, talk and charge again cycles out of it. This is either logically bizarre or a deception depending on your way of looking at things.
Almost equally odd is Jabra's claiming that the Stone 2 is a multimedia device. Yes, it will certainly play an audiobook stored on your phone, but it has only a volume control and an end-call switch on the body of the device, and single-ear sound with a strongly limited dynamic range stopped being the norm for listening to media with the introduction of the Sony Walkman a long, long time ago.
At the end of the day, the Jabra Stone 2 is not a bad headset; it is a good one.
Used in a quiet environment with still air for a series of short phone calls, it is better than a lot of what you find out there. The charging cradle with its clothes-clip, is a cool innovation. The sleek unit fits well in any pocket and gets the job done with style and aplomb, but some things about it make you wish that Jabra would fire the copywriters who allowed them to make the ten-hour claim and hire engineers whose vocabularies included the words, "bigger battery."