Jabra Bluetooth steals show as Microsoft launches Orange Smartphone

by Guy Kewney | posted on 22 October 2002

There's no getting away from it; Microsoft's Smartphone is far better than we though - but also, it's an old, out of date design - no Bluetooth. Didn't stop Jabra, though ...

Guy Kewney

They didn't like to admit it, but the first Smartphone, built by HTC and marketed by Orange, is distinctly old-fashioned, for such a revolutionary design. Where the latest Phone Edition PocketPC designs are transflective screens the "Canary" is reflective. Where PocketPC designs like the latest iPaq have built-in Bluetooth, Canary has an old-fashioned wired (stereo) headset for hands-free.

But at the last moment, Jabra managed to come up trumps with its FreeSpeak wireless headset

<1/> FreeSpeak plugs into the audio socket

which transforms the old-fashioned design into a pretty good simulation of a modern piece of kit.

It's a simple cable replacement trick. It plugs into the audio-out socket of the phone, with a cable; and then phone and cable vanish into an inside pocket, and you can listen (mono) to the audio output. It gets around the problem of requiring GSM approval for the latency. The only problem is, you can't do anything about voice/data control of the phone through the link that you couldn't do through audio; you can't initiate a phone call, for example. But you can hang up.

Sales director Bill Skelton

<1/> Bill Skelton, Jabra

wasn't sure when he'd be able to ship the Orange version of the FreeSpeak wireless headset. There was some hope they'd be able to do it by December, but he didn't sound optimistic - it would be best to hope for early next year.

By then, the HTC design will be nearly obsolete; the next version is in preparation in Taiwan, and should ship before June, possibly before April.

FreeSpeak gives four hours talk time, 96 hours standby time; Orange will struggle to find a better design. But no indication, yet, of price.