Jabra Halo Smart Bluetooth Headset

The earbuds that we know today have a long and storied history but came into their own when Apple introduced them with the earliest iPods in 2001.  That was also the year that Bluetooth enabled products started to reach consumers.  Since then, the combination of those two products has continued to evolve and the Jabra Halo Smart is the latest example of how far we have come in personal wireless listening.

Apple Tech Talk Scorecard

Pros Cons
Easy Set Up Controls can be confusing
Comfortable to wear Wind can interfere with conversations
Good sound quality Very short charging cable

Jabra Halo Smart – Unboxing

Jabra Halo Smart HeadsetThe Jabra Halo Smart is a new entry in the growing category of Bluetooth headsets.  In the box is the Jabra Halo Smart headset, a USB to micro-USB charging cord, 3 sets of extra eargels (X-small, small and large) to help provide an individualized fit, a Quick Start Guide and some paperwork covering product registration, warranty and a warning guide.

The main unit, which is worn around your neck measures 5.6” long x 5.6” wide x 1.4” deep and weighs a mere 1.34 oz.  The cords for the earbuds themselves add an additional 8.3” to the overall length.

The earpieces contain magnets that allow you to clip them together or attached them to corresponding areas on the sides of the main neckband.

The Jabra Halo Smart is controlled by use of buttons located on the lower portion of the neckband.  On the left side of the neckband is a “Voice” button to place and answer calls.  Just below the Voice button is the built-in microphone. On the right side are buttons for volume up and volume down.  In the center of those two is a “multi-function button.  More on that in a moment.

The neckband has two “flex zones” that allow you to shape the Jabra Halo Smart to your individual size for a more custom fit.

The included lithium-ion battery is rated for 17 hours of talk time and 22 days of standby time and can be fully charged in about 2 hours.  You charge the battery by lifting up the rubber cover on the neckband and connecting the micro USB cord.

The battery status is displayed by a single LED indicator on the inner edge of the neckband.  You can also hear the status of the battery by tapping the Volume up or Volume down button when you are not listening to music or on a call.

What You See What You Hear What It Means
Green LED Full Battery 50-100% battery
Yellow LED Medium Battery 20-50% battery
Red LED Low Battery 20% or Below battery

The Jabra Halo Smart User Guide recommends that you use the included Micro-USB cord to charge the unit but given that the included cord is only 12.2 inches long, you will need to be right next to your computer or have a very accessible AC charger available.  We would have liked to see a longer cord included to make access to charging easier.

Jabra Halo Smart Set-up

Setting up the Jabra Halo Smart was quick and easy and out of the box, the device is set to provide voice prompts as you go through the Bluetooth connection process.

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To pair the unit to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, follow these simple instructions.

  1. Go into Settings > Bluetooth so that your iDevice is in Discovery Mode.
  2. Ensure that the Jabra Halo Smart is off, and then press and hold the Multi-function button for 5 seconds, until the LED flashes blue. If you are wearing the headset, you will also here a voice-guided announcement which will guide you through the rest of the process.
  3. Once the pairing process is done, you will see the Jabra Halo Smart appear in the Bluetooth Device list on your iDevice.
  4. Select it and the pairing process is completed.

We connected the Jabra Halo Smart to several iDevices and had no problems with any of them.  The Jabra Halo Smart can be paired with up to 8 devices and connected to 2 at the same time.  This would be very convenient if you and a friend are watching a movie on an iPad or want to listen to music at the same time.

As a final step, we downloaded the Jabra Assist app from the Apple App Store. Perhaps we expected too much but we were disappointed at how little the app really did.

Jabra Halo Smart Test Results

Most of the functions of the Jabra Halo Smart are controlled by the multi-function button, either alone or in combination with the other buttons on the headset. We found it difficult to remember all of the combinations for the things we could do but suspect with a little time and practice, these would become more familiar.  Here are just some of the different functions.

Turn on headset Press and hold the Multi-function button for 3 seconds
Turn off headset Press and hold the Multi-function button for 5 seconds
Play or pause music Tap the Multi-function button
Answer or end a call Tap the Multi-function button
Reject a call Double-tap the Multi-function button
Turn Voice Guidance on Press and hold the Volume up and the Voice button for 3 seconds.
Turn Voice Guidance off Press and hold the Volume down and the Voice button for 3 seconds.
Reset the headset Simultaneously press and hold the Volume up and the Multi-function button for 5 seconds and then restart the headset.

 

There are still others but we think you get the idea.Jabra Assist Screen Shot

We would have liked to see some of these functions offloaded to the Jabra Assist app but found that to be little more than a reference guide.

The option to “Connect new Jabra device is just a series of static screen shot with step by step instructions for pairing the headset to your iPhone.  Of course, that information could have easily been included in the User Guide which by this time you have probably already downloaded and reviewed.

We think there is an opportunity to make this app much more useful and would like to see Jabra expand it in the future.

Minimal app functions and confusing buttons aside, the Jabra Halo Smart is first and foremost intended to make music listening and phone calls enjoyable and for that, it works well.

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Overall, we found the sound quality to be clean with adequate volume although we did experience some breaks in the music, even with our iPhone just inches away from the headset.  This in spite of the fact that the headset is rated for an operating distant of 10 meters (33 feet).

The neckband is comfortable and the buttons are generally well placed and easy to feel on either side of the neckband although we sometimes couldn’t remember which buttons were on which side.

Tapping the “Voice” button (on the right side of the headset), when not on a call brings up Siri and we were able to make calls with a typical Siri voice command as well as play music just by speaking the request.  Even while outdoors, the voice commands were easily recognized.

In addition to answering and ending calls, the headset can handle multiple calls but all of that is controlled by the Multi-function button.  Our instinct was to try and control them through the Voice button since that is how you launch Siri.  We think using the Voice button for the call related activity would eliminate some of the confusion we felt with the Multi-function button.

Call quality was generally good and people on the receiving end of the call said that the speech was clear and easy to hear.  In situations of very high wind there was some interference from wind noise but that was to be expected.

The magnetic earbuds is a nice feature since placing them together pauses your music.

Our only real complaint about the basic operation was that we often forgot to turn off the headset when we were done with our call or music.  Granted, with a 22 day standby time that probably won’t be much of an issue but we would like to have an auto-off feature, which perhaps could be adjusted through the Jabra Assist app.

The Bottom Line

The Jabra Halo Smart is a comfortable Bluetooth headset that not only allows you to listen to music but also seamlessly manages your phone calls and Siri.  We found the sound quality to be excellent although perhaps not as clear as the Apple earbuds.

Of course, the main feature of the Jabra Halo Smart is the freedom from wires and for that, it works very well.

With an MSRP of $79.99 it is at the higher end of the price range for similar items but Jabra is a well-known brand and makes quality products.

The Jabra Halo Smart is available from Amazon.

We would like to thank the folks at Jabra for providing the Jabra Halo Smart for our review.

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