Best Bluetooth headsets: Jawbone ERA vs Plantronics Voyager PRO HD vs Jabra Supreme vs Jabra Extreme2

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Bluetooth headsets – they make our lives easier by letting us use our phones without the need to actually hold them. But when you finally set your mind on getting one and start looking for the headset that is best for you, making the right choice can be difficult. Well, we decided to pick four top of the line headsets and share with you their advantages and weaknesses. Introducing the Jawbone ERA, Plantronics Voyager PRO HD, Jabra Supreme and Jabra Extreme2! Priced between $80 and $130, all of the four brag with their superior sound properties and wide arrays of features. But as we know, talk is cheap. Would you rather know how the four Bluetooth headsets perform in real life? Read along to find out.

Specs, box contents, pricing

Before we begin, let us examine what each one of these Bluetooth headsets comes equipped with. How much each one of them weighs and how long their battery lasts are also two important factors. Last but not least, their price tag should not be forgotten, because after all, these four gizmos do not come cheap.



As we can see, the Jawbone ERA is the best equipped headset of the bunch, which should come as no surprise as it is the priciest of all. It is also among the lightest sharing the top spot in that category with the Jabra Extreme2. As far as battery life is concerned, all of the four should provide the decent 5 and a half to 6 hours of talk time.


But enough idle talk and gazing at specs. It is time to take these gizmos out of their boxes and take a closer look at them.

Design:

Out of the four Bluetooth headsets that we are reviewing today, the Jawbone ERA is hands down the best looking one. Everything from its meticulously designed retail packaging to the two-layer texture on its outer side goes to show how much attention to detail has been paid when crafting this masterpiece. The Jabra Extreme2 is also aesthetically pleasing thanks to its unobtrusive design. That does not mean, however, that the Jabra Supreme and the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD are bad looking, but let's just say that you wouldn't want to be seen wearing them at a posh cocktail party.








Comfort:

It is really hard to pick a clear winner in this category simply because all of the headsets feel great when being worn... except for the Jawbone ERA. Even with the adjustable earhook in place, the headset feels awkward and uncomfortable to us. It is also prone to falling off easily. Ironically, it comes with the widest selection of earbuds – a whole 8 of them, yet not a single one felt right while we were using it.

UPDATE: We gave the Jawbone ERA a second shot and tried it out with an optional set of earbuds - the so called "Type C" earbuds, which cost $9.99 extra. We found them to be more comfortable than the stock ones as they fit quite snugly, thus greatly reducing the headset's chances of falling off. Users that are not entirely satisified with the fit of their Jawbone ERA might want to give that optional set of earbuds a try.

Still, if we had to choose a headset solely based on how comfortable it is, that would be the Jabra Extreme2 simply because it fits nice and tight while weighing next to nothing. However, we find the Jabra Supreme and the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD almost just as comfortable, so we believe that you will be quite satisfied with them as well.



Ease of use:

We had no troubles pairing any of the four headsets, which is always a good start. After fiddling with them for several days, we can say that the Jabra Supreme is the easiest one to use. First of all, turning it on couldn't have been more user-friendly – just flip open the folding microphone boom and you are all good to go. It is also convenient having dedicated, easy to find keys for all important actions, namely picking up and hanging up calls, using voice commands, and adjusting the volume.

Using the Jawbone ERA is also pretty easy. Answering or hanging up calls is done by double tapping on the side of the headset, meaning that there is no need to search for any buttons with your thumb. A volume rocker is nowhere to be seen, but that is because the headset adjusts its output volume automatically depending on your surroundings.

As far as the Jabra Extreme2 and the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD are concerned, using them is pretty straightforward as well. Their buttons are well-exposed and easy to operate while the headsets are in use.



Audio quality:

Ladies and gents, we have a tie! Both the Jabra Supreme and the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD deliver outstanding audio quality with clear, natural voice tones at more that sufficiently loud volume levels. And that goes for both sides of the line. Bear in mind, however, that while using the latter, a weird choppiness interrupted one of our calls. After further testing with several devices, we were unable to reproduce the glitch, but a bit of digging on the web showed that others have experienced it too.

The Jabra Extreme2 sounds good for the most part and successfully blocks most of the surrounding noise, but there is an audible hint of digitizing during calls, and voices, albeit being easy to understand, sound a bit boomy. The microphone, on the other hand, did a good job at picking up distinct voice tones, but a wind-like noise was present from time to time on the other side of the line.

Undeniably, the Jawbone ERA was the most disappointing Bluetooth headset in the bunch. While we cannot complain much about the performance of its microphone, the in-call audio delivered by its earpiece was of poor quality when compared to the other three. We tried switching smartphones, but the results were identical.

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Features:

It is always nice knowing that your Bluetooth headset (or any other gizmo, for that matter) has a few tricks up its sleeve. For example, all of the headsets that we are reviewing will work with your phone's music or video app, YouTube client, and even Skype or other VoIP application. Additionally, every single one in the bunch can tell you the caller's name when a call is inbound, and if their number is not present in your phone's contacts list, it will be spoken out digit by digit.

However, only the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD, Jabra Supreme and the Jawbone ERA can speak out how much juice they have left in their batteries. And instead of giving you a meaningless percentage, they will actually give you an estimated remaining talk time in hours. Pretty handy feature, don't you think?

If you are into voice commands, the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD would be the headset to go with. It offers a whole bunch of voice-activated functions thanks to its Vocalyst feature. For example, it can read your emails and text messages, but it will also allow you to send a reply by using your voice only. Posting to social networks is also possible. The Jabra Supreme supports voice commands as well. When a call is inbound, the user can simply say “answer” to pick up, or “ignore” to (d'oh) ignore the call, which, when combined with the headset's remaining voice commands, results in a very satisfying hands-free experience.

Conclusion:

Overall, all of the four Bluetooth headsets have their pros and cons. If for some reason you need a headset that would serve mostly as a fashion accessory, yet won't be actually used much, the Jawbone ERA would be the one to pick. If you need a more affordable, yet comfortable headset that can be worn comfortably all day long, the Jabra Extreme2 is the one that we would recommend. Professionals will be very satisfied with both the Jabra Supreme and the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD as they offer outstanding in-call audio quality and are much more comfortable than they actually look.



Best Bluetooth headsets: Jawbone ERA, Plantronics Voyager PRO Video Comparison:



The Jawbone ERA was kindly provided to us by MobileFun.co.uk.


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