Skype, with all its limitations and flaws, is the reason we ditched our landline. For years now, we've used a Netgear Skype-friendly handset that doesn't require the Skype app itself nor a computer. It's an adequate solution, but the Netgear has plenty of quirks that have continually bothered us throughout the years (e.g. system updates that never update, message notifications that cannot be removed). So recently we decided to give a new piece of hands-free hardware an opportunity to replace the handset for phone duty: Jawbone Icon.
We loved the packaging, which was reduced by 2/3 from previous models, while also being 100% recyclable and beautifully presented. But it is a bit of a pain in the behind to get to all the accessories, since everything is packed so tightly.
The primary reason we were interested in transitioning to the Jawbone Icon was its reputed ability to kill ambient noise. The bulk of our phone calls tend to be conference calls and outgoing; these phone meetings with callers from all across the nation can last 1-2 hours, plenty long enough to tire us out while holding the phone to our ear.
We had long considered a headset, but didn't really like the idea of the bulky formfactor of the better reviewed models. Then we read that some people were using their Jawbone devices with Skype with good results, thanks to the NoiseAssassin ambient noise reduction technology and very small form factor.
Although not officially supported, setup to use the Jawbone with Skype requires simple only pairing up the Jawbone with a computer with OS X's Bluetooth setup configuration and setting Skype's audio preferences to designate the earpiece-mic as the primary input and output source.
How to Setup Jawbone to Work with Skype in OS X:
1) Prepare Jawbone to Connect:Turn on your Jawbone Icon (we got the The Thinker model) by holding the button on the end of the earpiece while sliding the power tab into "ON" mode. When done correctly, your Jawbone will go into Bluetooth connection mode, with the headpiece blinking red and white. This indicates your unit is ready to connect.
2) Setup OS X Bluetooth Preferences to Pair Device: Open System Preferences, click on "Bluetooth" under the Internet & Wireless preferences. We normally have our Bluetooth Status open in the menu bar for easier Bluetooth accessory setup; from there, you can simple choose the "Setup Bluetooth Device" option from the pulldown menu.
From here, you should be able to see the Jawbone listed as a discoverable device ("Headset"). Choose the "Headset" from the list and press "Continue". The setup will then notify you the device is now successfully paired and ready to use with the following window and an audible connection verification:
3) Set Skype Audio In & Out Preferences: Now launch Skype and open up Skype Preferences. From the Audio section of the preferences, change the audio input and output settings to the Jawbone device (you can change the ringing also, but you might want to leave this audible via your computer or computer speakers). Test it by pressing your audio volume up or down; you should be able to hear the notification sounds through the Jawbone now.
4) Enjoy Hands-Free Phone Calls: Make or receive a call with your Jawbone!
We've tested this setup now for a week and we have to say it's a huge improvement in productivity. The Jawbone Icon is very comfortable, the sound is as clear as our handset, and from reports from people at the other end, voices remain clear even with ambient noise from the house fan or air conditioner.
To be frank, we've been prejudice against the idea of using the Jawbone prior, not because of anything directly reflected by the product's performance or technology, but due to its reputation as "raging-jerk-tech", popular and often seen adorning the heads of businessmen who don't exactly evoke a sense of cool. Trivial and superficial, we know, but it's a device we're still getting comfortable wearing even in the privacy of our own home (and we're not knocking the design, which is really understated and minimal). Fortunately, this 5th generation Jawbone technology has proven to be an excellent partner with Skype for outgoing calls and we wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who finds themselves on long-period calls with Skype. We just won't be wearing it out in public, the private jerks we are.