Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headphones Hardware Review

Jul 28, 2016

Jabra is a well-known entity when it comes to slick, effective Bluetooth accessories, and it is also a company that is seemingly unwilling to rest on its laurels. That combination usually leads to interesting products at set intervals, and we don’t pretend to not be eager to check out its current offerings.

In the Halo Smart Wireless Headphones, Jabra has a consumer-grade product that looks to enhance one’s usage of mobile peripherals via Bluetooth technology. It looks to be durable, technologically savvy and maby even indispensable.

The review package that Jabra sent us reflects the product in its retail manifestation: the headphones, charging cable and extra ear bud pieces. The headphones themselves are in neckband form, with mostly black hard plastic for the exterior. The earbuds are connected to each end of the curved neckband via rubberized cable, and can be held in place by magnets on the neckband. The main piece houses volume and power/pairing button on the one side, and a discrete microphone assembly on the other. The band also stashes a covered micro-USB charging port and a full-fledged rechargeable battery inside.

The neckband is interestingly crafted: quite flexible, but fairly durable at the same time. The whole unit is exceptionally light — officially, the set comes in at 1.34 oz — and the neckband itself is reasonably svelte 5.6 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches.

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The unit promises 17 hours talk time time and an astounding 22 days of standby time. Toss in the advertised water and wind resistance, and we were ready to get going.

Pairing is easy; using the incorporated Bluetooth 4.1, the unit pairs with most receptive electronics easily. As a pair of headphones, they work faithfully, and we didn’t discern any problems across walls inside of the advertised 10 feet, and even a little beyond. As a telephony accessory, they work well too; when connected to an Android device, one can invoke Google Now by tapping the microphone button.

The optional Jabra Assist app (which works with several other Jabra pieces) is the perfect cherry on top, adding some functionality such as battery monitoring, device location, information readouts and more. At $79.99, they are a bit of an investment.

All in all, another compelling device from an industry leader.

Jabra Announces Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones

Jabra Announces Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones

Jun 8, 2016

Premium accessory house Jabra just announced a new arrival to its wireless headphones line: the Halo Smart Wireless Stereo Headphones.

The new piece incorporates some interesting elements, the topmost of which are the ability to switch easily between listening to music and taking calls.

Jabra Halo Smart delivers a superior call experience thanks to high-quality microphones with integrated wind-noise protection, enhanced voice capabilities via a dedicated Google Now/Siri button and immersive, full-spectrum sound through its 10mm speakers. With the addition of up to 17 hours talk time or 15 hours of music listening with just one charge, Jabra Halo Smart is intended to be used all day, every day.

Built-in intelligence

The intelligence of Jabra Halo Smart lies in its ability to let the user manage calls, music and media with just one device. According to recent Jabra insights*, 79 percent of users would like to have one set of headphones for both calls and music, but believe the call experience on most music devices is poor. Jabra Halo Smart allows you to accept a call by separating the two earbuds as they rest around your neck, and use one earbud for phone calls or both for listening to music. It also lets you access Siri or Google Now at the touch of a button and keeps you connected and informed in a number of ways. A subtle vibration in the neckband alerts you to incoming calls, while Android users can expect readouts of calendar notifications, emails, text messages and social media messages.

Jabra SVP Calum MacDougall talks about the need for a great experience. “We are all doing more with our smartphones than ever before, whether it’s making and taking calls, listening to music on-the-move or watching a movie clip during a break,” he says. “So we wanted to develop a set of wireless headphones that deliver amazing sound whatever you’re doing whether taking calls or listening to music.”

To help promote the new hardware, Jabra will be hosting a Facebook livestream; folks can get questions answered, watch a demo and even look to win one via giveaway on June 9th.

The piece is slated to cost $79.99, and will be available at best Buy later this month.

Jabra Eclipse Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Jabra Eclipse Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Oct 30, 2015

Jabra has mostly reached the point where one can be guaranteed a quality product. Its audio and wireless products are usually topnotch, and we have had the opportunity to review more of Jabra’s recent offerings.

Jabra does seem to have an issue with resting any perceived laurels, which is great for consumers, as it gets us new pieces like the Jabra Eclipse, one of the company’s newer bluetooth earpiece offerings.

The earpiece itself is a sleek number, with a defined angle asking the main shaft. It had a smaller profile than the Jabra Stealth, but is somewhat lighter, coming in at 0.19 oz. This one is aimed at right ear use, and the angling ensures this. It’s grey and black with audio perforations; an all-white option with matching case is also available.

The obvious difference is the addition of the charging case; as such, the earpiece doesn’t need a charging port. Instead, it has subtle magnetic contacts that come into play when the unit is nestled inside the oval-ish case. The case houses the expected micro-USB charging port, and the matching set of contacts on the inside effect charging. It also houses a battery, so that it retains a charge that can be used to charge the unit even when it isn’t connected to an electrical outlet. The charging puck mostly matches the earpiece in color, being black and weighing 1.23 oz. It packs in NFC and extends standby time by 4 hours.

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The rest of the retail box contains ear gels and a micro-USB cable.

Using it is quite simple. After charging, turning it on is a simple matter of removing the earpiece from the case and turning off is the reverse operation. Pairing it will be simple for anyone who has previously paired bluetooth devices, and the aforementioned NFC is another option for pairing. Once inserted in one’s ear, double tapping invokes voice operations, call answering, etc. Noticeably, Google Now is easier to manipulate, and it boasts 10 hours of talk time with the charger case, and 6 without.

The companion Jabra Assist apps adds a bit more functionality, like geo-tagging, battery management, software upgrades and more. It still needs yet another Jabra app installed on one’s device to work though.

The case is a great idea, and works well. For some, it might take some getting used to, because it is a needed piece to control battery usage and charging.

Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones Hardware Review

Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones Hardware Review

Mar 26, 2015

As we like to say, being connected is a privilege, more and more aspects of our lives are becoming portions of IoT, and our smartphones are becoming the de facto hubs. This is so very obvious in the area of fitness and health, where accessories are quite the rage.

With Jabra’s Sports Wireless+ Bluetooth Headphones, we get to see a formidable option from an industry vet.

The review package Jabra sent was nicely boxed. The set is pretty light in hand, almost surprising so. The physical presentation basically consists of two three-quarter moon ear loops and a rubber-coated cable that connects the two in the behind the neck earphone style. The ear loops come in the main black-with-yellow accents that is synonymous with Jabra, The right piece houses the soft controls: a power button, volume buttons, FM button (hint, hint), microphone pinhole and covered micro-USB port. There’s even LED lights which help signify power and bluetooth status. Each ear loop measures in at 2.5 x 1.7 x 0.5 inches, and the whole set weighs 0.88 ounces. The retail box also contains a pack of ear gels, USB cable and a nifty carrying case.

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After charging and powering on, pairing the 3.0 Bluetooth to an audio source is fairly easy; long-pressing the power button for several seconds puts the headphones in pairing mode, and they can then be discovered and connected to. That easily, I was able to start listening to music and podcasts from the trusty M8. Of special interest to me, obviously, is the fit. For a pair of sports phones, they work well, and the behind the neck styling is not too bothersome. yes, the loops did feel ever-present but not so much so that they were lingering distractions. They work well for running, and I wasn’t able to dislodge it by head-banging. the advertised military-grade specs (dust, durability and dust protection) definitely come into play, and the unit does feel durable.

This accessory boasts some decent extras beyond the core functionality. There is the built-in FM tuner, teased via soft buttons. Honestly, I was shocked at how well it worked. It didn’t catch every FM channel when compared head-to-head with a dedicated radio, but the ones it did catch sounded pretty good. It handles phone calls well, though I did get some feedback from talking in the microphone.

I also like the little things, like the fit adjust clip and the several ear gels that help in getting the most comfortable insertion.

One point that might irk some folks is that there isn’t any Android app; the app works well without it, bu if one wants the added on benefit available with some other Jabra products, they’ll have to forego it for now. Also, the range is fairly limited.

When it’s all said and done, it does well in it’s main job, and reasonably well in a few extra aspects at well. At just under $90 (on Amazon), it isn’t a prohibitive proposition.

Not bad at all.

Jabra Storm Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Jabra Storm Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Dec 26, 2014

At this point, it just makes sense to have a wireless earpiece. There are a bunch of reasons, but if just for the ability to do things in a handsfree manner from one’s smartphone and other devices and gadgets with bluetooth functionality.

When it comes to audio accessories, few companies have the chops that Jabra does; that’s why checking it out its budget offering Storm Bluetooth Earpiece.

At first glance, from a bit of a distance, one might be partially forgiven for assuming the unit is a twisted wire of sorts; the interesting atypical design is tapered, and looks somewhat like a cursive lower case “D” under closer inspection. It is mostly black, with a silver finish on the “outside” of the frame, with covered charging port, pairing and on buttons — as well as an answering toggle — preventing silver-colored monotony. The portion that fits into the ear is the thickest part, and is crowned with the default distinctive orange ear gel we came to appreciate on the Jabra Stealth.

Closer inspection reveals it isn’t one solid piece; Indeed, the ear-end rotates around it’s axis, and the reason for this becomes clear once the item is placed in one’s ear: it allows the use use the unit in either ear.

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It is light to the touch, quite palmable and has a futuristic feel to it.

Pairing it is is a simple matter of turning it on, and then pressing and holding the answer button for several seconds; this puts he unit into pairing mode, which can be ascertained by the flashing bluetooth LED. As soon as it is paired to the device, it can be used for a host of audio tasks: listening to music, or podcasts… or, even making calls. It works reasonably well in this regard, with most transmissions sounding reasonably crisp. I did think background noise is not as insulated out as, say, it’s sister piece, the Jabra Stealth.

The battery life is decent; I did like the standby time, as well as the NFC pairing and voice control aspects of the unit.

All in all, I did appreciate the design aesthetic, and the overall value of the unit. The extra functionality provided by the companion Jabra Assist app (stuff like battery meter and unit locator) helps make use more seamless, and makes the Storm a viable option for any and everyone looking for a good audio peripheral.

Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Hardware Review

Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Hardware Review

Nov 14, 2014

I really, really wanna get down to the nitty-gritty with this one: what’s up with the Jabra Stealth Bluetooth Earpiece?

Yes… it’s sleek, as the retail unit Jabra sent us shows: different shades of grey with orange accents, gently-sized at 2.57 x 0.61 x 0.95 inches and 0.28 ounces. Coverable micro-USB port, bluetooth 4.0, NFC and A2DP support, plus retail packaging that also contains micro-USB, earhooks and eargels. There is a dedicated button for Google Now, as well as an answer/redial button incorporated towards the rear and LED. Pairing it with a device is easy and intuitive after the requisite pre-charge.

It looks sleek, and has a smaller profile than the Jabra Style, which we looked at a short while back.

I try not to exaggerate, but fitting the device in my ear allowed me to completely understand Tim Curry’s obnoxious Psych character Nigel St Nigel when he stated, “I feel like an angel baby swaddled in a cocoon of cloud candy.

Yes, this unit feels that good in ear.

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The construction of the ear gel allows for the already lightweight piece to feel, dare I say, natural. To be clear, this is easily the most comfortable unit I have ever tried. I’m one of those old school guys that strenuously avoids using bluetooth earpieces anywhere outside of the house or when driving, but the Stealth had me breaking my own cardinal rule, as I forgot it was on.

Seriously.

When you think about it, this shouldn’t surprise me; I always buy Jabra ear gels to use even with bluetooth earpieces from other manufacturers, so seeing Jabra seemingly perfect the delicate balance between structured fit and comfort should be somewhat expected. It works well in either ear, and I’m able to slip it on with one hand quite easily.

The ear gel also funnels noise beautifully. Noise cancellation tends to be a catchphrase nowadays, but with this unit, it does well, even when used in noisy environments (like soccer fields and restaurants). Calls and music sound rich, and callers actually noted the clarity on their ends.

The companion Jabra Assist app allows for unit geo-tagging, battery monitoring and onboard tutorials.

The ear gel, as it is, is also the center of my biggest gripe. It doesn’t adhere to the main body as well as I would like. Thus, my beloved ear gel does pop off in my pocket and even in my coaching bag. For this reason, I would have to use it with a dedicated pouch, but I might be a bit more persnickety than most. The Google Now button didn’t work the way I had hoped either.

Frankly, that specific drawback would not prevent me from enjoying the $99.99 Jabra Stealth (via Jabra), and I do suspect it has ruined me for other units. Just as well though; it’s all about having my ear feel like an angel baby.

Jabra Announces New Fitness-Inspired Pulse Wireless Earbuds with Android Functionality

Jabra Announces New Fitness-Inspired Pulse Wireless Earbuds with Android Functionality

Aug 28, 2014

Jabra has just formally announced the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds, a new offering that has a built-in biometric heart rate monitor. It will feature real-time coaching, sound in Dolby Digital and will also have a companion app on the Play Store.

With this piece, Jabra continues their surge into the health and fitness wearables space. It will cost $199.

From the press release:

Take training to the next level and get the ultimate wireless workout with Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless, new earbuds – and an all-in-one training solution with Jabra Sport Life application – announced by Jabra today. Combining an in-ear biometric heart rate monitor, immersive Dolby® Digital sound and real-time voice coaching, Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless will inspire runners, cyclists, and exercisers of all types to beat their best performance. The Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless is currently available for pre-order on Jabra.com/sportpulse and will be available at Best Buy retail stores and BestBuy.com beginning late September.

Built-in Heart Rate Monitor and App: The Smart Way to Train

With a built-in intelligent app – Jabra Sport Life – exercisers will get the most out of their Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds, helping them plan, track and evaluate each workout. It has never been so easy to test fitness levels and aerobic capacity, adjust heart rate zone levels to optimize training, and set goals based on distance, time or calories burned.

“Jabra has a strong legacy of innovation in wearable technology and Sport Pulse Wireless is no exception,” said Darcy Clarkson, Senior Vice President at Jabra Consumer Solutions. “These are world’s first earbuds to have a built-in heart rate monitor, heralding the next generation of intelligent audio solutions for fitness fanatics that allows our customers to work out with the confidence of medical precision.”

Premium Sound, Completely Wireless Workout

Music is a big part of many peoples’ workouts, and the Sport Pulse Wireless is designed to fire up exercisers by listening to their favorite songs with a customizable sound experience and powerful, purpose-built speakers that deliver world-class wireless music performance. Personalised audio coaching provides feedback on your workout every step of the way, enabling music and training to be controlled from a single app.

As Tough as You Are

Encased in carbon fiber, Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds are built to take a pounding and are sweat- and storm-proof, so there is no excuse for missing a training session. Ergonomic Audio Response ScienceTM technology ensures a secure, comfortable fit that’s lightweight in a compact design so nothing gets in the way of exceeding training goals.

Track Workouts with Medical Accuracy

Jabra commissioned Campbell University in North Carolina to independently verify the performance of the heart rate monitor technology for fitness and active usage. The comprehensive trial included runners on a treadmill and simultaneously tested Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless against a medical electrocardiogram (ECG) machine. The results clearly showed an extraordinary accuracy with a 99.2% correlation, proving the advanced nature of Jabra’s in-ear heart rate technology.

“Jabra has created a single device that can provide accurate biometric information, both visually and audibly, within a piece of equipment that most exercisers are wearing anyway and eliminate the need for excess equipment,” concluded Jennifer Bunn, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director at Campbell University in the Department of Exercise Science.

The Next Generation of Jabra’s Sports Line

Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds continue Jabra’s tradition of global ‘firsts,’ building on a solid heritage of superior sound engineering. The earbuds represent the next generation in Jabra’s family of wireless audio solutions for people who are serious about exercising, complementing the award-winning Jabra Sport Rox Wireless and Sport Wireless+ earbuds.

We had an opportunity to review a couple of Jabra’s offerings in the past, and came away impressed. The Sports Pulse can be pre-ordered from its product page; as noted, it should be available in September.

[Source: Jabra Press Release]

Jabra Style Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Jabra Style Bluetooth Earpiece Hardware Review

Oct 15, 2013

With the Style, Jabra broaches the difficult task that is trying to create a quality tech piece while keeping the price approachable.

The review box comes nicely displayed; the manufacturer is typically great when it comes to product presentation. The box comes with the earpiece itself, a dedicated micro-usb charger, an extra (but differently shaped) ear gel and miscellaneous documentation.

The styling of the earpiece itself is clean and, dare I say, quite becoming, with black and brush steel making up most of the design with respect to color. It feels quite slick in hand. When compared to something like the Jawbone Icon, it feels just as light, but the elongated mouthpiece makes it perceptibly longer, but far from unwieldy or jab2uncomfortable.

The ear hook is designed to be optional, which is fantastic for people like me that prefer to use earpieces without ear hooks. The included extra ear gel fit the bill perfectly, with it’s funneled design. For those that do prefer ear hooks, the ear hook is clear, and can be used on the left or right.

All in all, it looks and feels good in hand and in ear. Even with the ear hook on for hours of testing, it didn’t feel bad.

Pairing was easy as soon as I juiced the device; it’s a simple issue of turning on the bluetooth radio on my Android device, discovering the Style and selecting it from the list on my Android device to pair. The NFC pairing functionality works a advertised; a simple tap with the “outsides” of the gadget to an enabled device pairs it to said device. Streamed audio was crisp and quite clear, and I was able to get about 30 yards beyond a wall or two before getting issues. With wind blowing, I feel it works better with the funneled earpiece; I did notice a bit of interference when I moved my device across my body once or twice, but it did rectify itself. The device gives a few audio cues, and the multi-function button controls dialing.

The companion software is a good idea on paper (it provides a finding service and pairing assistance), but I was put off after installing it by what seemed to be a requirement to download another Jabra app.

It’s priced to move, and designed to please, and mostly manages to surpass both thresholds.

Jabra Solemate Mini Portable Speaker Announced

Jabra Solemate Mini Portable Speaker Announced

Sep 12, 2013

Jabra just announced a new, “ultra-portable” version of its popular Jabra Solemate Portable Speaker. Appropriately dubbed the Solemate Mini, the new device will come in four different colors (black, blue, yellow and red) and will retail for $99 when it comes out in the last quarter of 2013.

Not to be left out, Jabra also announced a “enhanced” version of the original Solemate, “featuring an enriched sound experience” It comes in four colors as well, but unlike the Mini, grey replaces black. There’ll also be a new Jabra Sound Application, streaming capabilities and some offline functionality.

The refresh is due out at the same time for $149.

We were quite impressed with the Jabra Revo Headphones.

Jabra Revo Wired Headset Hardware Review

Jabra Revo Wired Headset Hardware Review

Apr 19, 2013

When we talk of Jabra, I’m sure bluetooth telephony comes to mind. Jabra has been in the wireless game for a while. Long enough to have major juice. Still, I figured that having the opportunity to review a wired headset from Jabra would still be an experience, so I jumped at it. Jabra Revo Wired Headset was supposed to deliver great sound with nice aesthetics to boot.

We’ll see.

The review piece came in a great looking, solid case with yellow and black accents. In a time when manufacturers scrimp on packaging regardless of price, it’s nice to see nice frills. It contained the headset, 3.5 mm male to male auxiliary cable, a storage bag and documentation (which included an exclusive unlock code for the Jabra Sound 2013-04-17 17.30.24companion app).

The headset itself was a thing of beauty. The design angles demanded it be touched, and the greyish hues mixed well with black leather and burn orange cabling. At the risk of sounding like a lovestruck extra on Gone With the Wind, it was a sight to behold. The memory pieces on the audio outputs were indeed soft, and the padding on the headband hinted at an enviable attention to detail. The joints and extensibility were design decisions I appreciated. And it seemed tough enough; drops from about four feet didn’t faze it. I also liked the extra inlet for the new sweetheart or pesky kid brother to load up an extra headset.

But what about it’s real mission? Well, I am going to be very honest. I don’t consider myself an audiophile; I do like high end headset and speakers, and dislike warped sound. I’m a stoic guy, and am rarely prone to inappropriate public displays or inexplicable shouts of joy. I don’t fall for the hype.

The sound quality blew me away.

The sound was rich, belying the stated Dolby Digital collaboration. I thought it somehow separated the elements of the sound even while melding them together, all the while creating a hauntingly precise musical experience. It worked flawlessly with two music applications (including Google Music) and Netflix. The on-device controls worked for playing/pausing, as well as hanging up calls. The built-in microphone worked for calls, as did the volume buttons.

The Jabra Sound app was a cool extension which opened up a fairly basic music app and equalizer. Basic, because without stuff like shuffle, true music heads might sneer. It did have share functionality, so I won’t talk too much shade about it. The volume buttons did not work on my default third-party music app, but that was a minor quibble.

For a high-end piece of kit that lives up to its reputation, this headset is definitely an understated option. If wired headsets are one’s preferred option, these might do the trick. If they are not one’s preferred option, be warned: it just might be.