Review: Jabra Halo Bluetooth Headphones – Ultimate Series

IMG_7248Review: Jabra Halo Bluetooth Headphones – Ultimate Series
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Price
: $130 Directly | Amazon.com

Summary: The Jabra Halo is one of the most high-class bluetooth stereo headsets thus far. But at times the new technologies the Jabra Halo employs leads to reduced functionality and the limitations of bluetooth stereo technology on a whole dampen the user experience.

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Comfort: The Halo’s exterior is made out of a soft yet rigid brushed black plastic. The interior is lined with a black felt material that helps keep the headset in place atop your head. For simplicity and usefulness, instead of what is becoming standard non-labelled LED indicator lights, there is a windowed status indicator with embedded LEDs within the felt interior so that a user can easily interpret what the flashing lights mean without resorting to a manual for translation. The earpieces themselves are extendable to accommodate differently sized heads. I happen to have an abnormally large head. So when trying to position the Halo into the sweet-spot straight above the ears, the earpieces couldn’t reach. I had to position the band further forward on my skull or further back. But for most normal sized heads, the extendable earpieces probably won’t be a problem. In sum, based on the unit construction alone, the Halo is a high class stereo headset.

IMG_7250Controls: The HALO has a sensor in the hinges of the arms that is used to power on the system when the arms are unfolded and clicked into place and turn the system off when the arms are folded inwards. The rest of the controls are located on the right earpiece. There is a single button that is used to answer and end calls as well and start and stop the music. Unlike the MOTOROKR S9HD (http://www.berryreview.com/2009/02/09/review-motorola-motorokr-s9hd-bluetooth-stereo-headphones/)the the button on the HALO is a softer push. So when the earphones are pressed to your ear and you have to push the button, the earphone isn’t pressed to harshly onto your earlobe.But the real cool thing about the HALO is the touch sliding sensor on the edge of the right earpiece. Slide your finger upwards to raise the volume and down to lower the volume. If your phone is fully compatible, then double tapping the top of the sensor will forward the music to the next song and double tapping the bottom of the sensor will start the song over or go to the previous song. On a Blackberry Curve and an iPhone the double tapping feature didn’t seem to work. But when paired with a computer and running iTunes, the double tap worked perfectly. However,  there is no customization of the double tap feature. So your double tapping skills have to be really honed and your fingers really fast. All in all, when you want to actually use the touch sensors to do anything, it runs really smoothly and just feels great. But, when you want to just adjust your headset or do something similarly harmless and touch the sensor area accidentally get ready for a whole bunch of beeps and volume changes.

Sounds Quality: The earphones on the HALO are soft and sit on top of your ear–they don’t go into your ear like the S9HD. I expected a lot of sounds loss because of the proximity to the ear canal, but surprisingly the sound really doesn’t get drowned out around the apartment. On the streets though, you can still hear the bustle of New York City through the headphones. But no headset is going to drown out Broadway. Unlike a speaker there really aren’t any sound controls for bass or treble, so you are stuck with the default sound settings. But the music sounds pretty good, definitely above average. The HALO definitely hits the highs and the bass is surprisingly deep.

Calls: Here is where the review gets tricky. The HALO uses GN Netcom’s noise blackout technology which use two microphones to block out ambient noises–by using two microphones the headset tries to block out all background noise and just keep the sound of your voice in the phone call. When I first tried to make a phone call I didn’t realize I had the headphones on backwards. The blackout technology worked so well that my wife could hear everything behind me, but my voice was completely blocked out. When turned the right way though, the headset did a good job at blocking out all other surrounding noise and focusing just on my voice. This was all on my Blackberry Curve. But when I paired the Halo with an iPhone to test the phone call voice quality I had a completely different problem, the technology would block out other noises but muffle and lower the voice of the speaker as well, making it almost unusable.

IMG_7249Battery Life: 8 Hours of use and 13 hours of standby. But when talking about power, I feel like I must note that the Halo only comes with a USB charging cable, without any wall charger. If you have a few USB wall charging units lying around this isn’t really a problem. But I imagine that to the average buyer, a standard charging option would be very useful.

Range: Similarly to the S9HD, when you put your phone in your pocket, have the headphones on, and start to walk the music starts to skip. The range of the headset seem to be about a few feet, which is problematic. If you are sitting, or you put the phone in a jacket or shirt pocket above the waist then your music will pay perfectly without interruption. But apparently, if you are an average height male you are too tall to really use a bluetooth headset while walking. This is just my main problem with all the bluetooth headphones I have tried so far. I don’t know why they really can’t extend the range, but one or two more feet would really make all the difference for most users.

Roundup:

  • Pros: Solid construction, comfortable fit, fashionable design, glossy indicator panel, easy touch controls, soft push button, long battery life.
  • Cons: Doesn’t extend far enough for people with larger heads, no included wall charger, no customization of controls, no protection for accidental use of touch controls, doesn’t fit easily into a pocket.

Final Verdict: If you are looking for bluetooth stereo headphones for your commute or around the apartment (not the gym or other sporty activities) these are the most luxurious I have seen so far. You definitely won’t be too embarrassed wearing these. But if you are thinking about whether or not you should buy bluetooth headphones in general you might want to wait until they can make a solid pair like this with a little more reliable range.

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