Jabra made headlines early last year when it debuted the Jabra BT8010, the first mono-to-stereo convertible Bluetooth headset. The BT8010 was even awarded Best of CES 2007 in the MP3 category. This year, the company has once again delved into the hybrid Bluetooth market with the BT8030, the world's first combined Bluetooth speaker and headphones. Yes, the BT8030 is a pair of headphones that can be folded out into a portable speaker. Though it's pretty bulky, we have to admit we like the idea. That said, we had issues with the fit and comfort, and the inconvenient location of its buttons. The Jabra BT8030 retails for a pricey $249.99; however, you could probably find a cheaper price, if you shop around.
At first glance, the Jabra BT8030 looks like a huge pair of headphones, and indeed, it is. From earpiece to earpiece, the BT8030 seems to be carved out of a single block of hard plastic and foam. Weighing a hefty 10.9 ounces, the BT8030 is made out of polycarbonate, thermoplastic polyurethane, acrylic butadiene styrene, and steel. The outer shell of the BT8030 has a lovely black matte soft-touch finish. The inner portion of the headphones is covered in thick black foam padding. The earpieces are covered in a softer spongier padding,and are made to rest directly on the ear.
As a pair of headphones, the BT8030 fits very snugly over the head. It felt pretty comfortable at first, thanks to the amount of padding. You can also adjust the length of the headband for the size of your head. However, as we wore it for longer periods of time, the BT8030 started to feel almost too snug, like our head was in a vice. Also, the weight of the BT8030 eventually got to us. It felt like wearing a small brick on our head. If you're used to wearing heavy headphones, this might be fine for you, but we weren't too pleased about it.
But there's a hidden function with the BT8030. There are two quick-release buttons located near the headband, which when pressed, will spread the earpieces of the BT8030 out left and right to form portable speakers. Doing this also triggers the headset to start blasting the sound louder, as is appropriate for the volume on a pair of speakers. The design is quite unusual, but it works, and we liked the sound quality.