Jabra Halo Review

4
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Once you try on a wireless stereo headset it’s hard to go back to anything wired. The only thing that might be stopping you to acquire a pair of those would be the dorky look that most of them seem to lay over your otherwise cool appearances. Thus when we got a first glimpse at the Jabra Halo, we were immediately pleased that it checks on both counts. Whew, finally a stereo Bluetooth headset that won’t bring irreparable damage to our street cred. Seems like a marriage made in heaven, but let’s see if there aren’t some skeletons in the Jabra closets…

What’s in the box:

  • Jabra Halo headset
  • 3.5mm music cable
  • USB charger
  • AC charger
  • Quick start guide
  • Warranty and warning manuals
  • Carrying pouch


Design:

Well, we won’t be damning our souls by lying that we find any flaws with the design and the outer appearances of the Jabra Halo. The headset is of the binaural DJ style, not a behind-the-neck sporty type, and the whole set is so thin, that it looks like you are just using it as a headband. The headband is upholstered with suede material on the inside, so if you plan on a lot of sweating, this isn’t the set for you. Jabra is citing the Halo as able to survive slight rain shower, but no waterboarding techniques should be applied to the headset.


The streamlined design of the Jabra Halo is achieved by making the ear pads only slightly thicker and wider than the headband. The pads are thick just enough to include the insulating foam and the microUSB port on the right, which is the only opening you’ll find on the headset. The port is used for charging with the AC adapter, or with the USB cord, as well as for connecting the headset to a 3.5mm standard audio jack cord, which can be used in case Bluetooth is not present for some reason.

Minimalistic simplicity is the name of the game here, since there is only one physical button on the right side, which is flush with the surface to boot. The only other control is the touch sensitive volume slider, again on the right side.


No blinking lights at the side of your head, no volume rockers. The status lights for charging and Bluetooth are at the right on the inside of the headband.  Red means charge is less than 70%, yellow – above that level, and green stands for a fully charged headset. Unfortunately we could never tell where we stand with charging. With the USB cable it seemed not to work at all, unless we fold and unfold the headset. With the charger it could stay for hours and nothing lights up, then you move the plug a little bit, and the light immediately turns green, but the Halo wasn’t fully charged. We hope it’s just a case of flimsy contact within the microUSB port of our unit, but it was annoying nonetheless not to have the indicator working properly.


The Jabra Halo has a unique folding design that lets you pull from both sides of the headband, and then tuck the ear pads neatly one under the other around two hinges. That also shuts the headset completely off and, since it becomes a tight package, you can slide it in the provided Velcro pouch for ease of transportation or storage. Then, when you need it, you take the thing out, unfold and try to snap the pads into place. This turns on the headset and it starts pairing with the nearest Bluetooth it can find. Sounds good, but the practical execution is rather cumbersome, dismantling the parts and folding them, then snapping them back into place requires significant efforts. It will probably smooth out with time, but then the hinges might already be gone.


The whole point of a headset design should be comfort when worn for long hours. The Jabra Halo checks that requirement, but mainly because the pads are not fitting snuggly around the ears, stretching slightly above them instead. Why? To keep the streamlined design, the headset is just more suited for long and narrow heads, which we couldn’t find around us to test on. The ear pads do extend up and down, to adjust for the different sizes, but the angle over the ears stays the same - slightly off-kilter.  Some people like that, though, since you can hear what is happening around you, if needed. Wearing the ear pads for a long time does warm up your ears, but is a far cry from what we’ve experienced with other headsets.




Performance and Conclusion:

The Jabra Halo is rife with such novel ideas and their sloppy execution. The touch sensitive volume slider is a hit-or-miss, for example.  Slide your finger down, from top to bottom, and you lower the volume, double-tap on the plus or minus signs, and you flip between music tracks, that’s how simply it is, at least according to the manual. However, it often skips stages, or executes two levels up and one down from a perfectly one-way movement, for example. On top of that, it beeps each time a level is reached, which is unpleasant when listening to music or movies. The same beep goes when the battery is dying for quite some time.

But enough nibbling at details, let’s examine the features you bought a Bluetooth stereo headset for in the first place. Pairing the Jabra Halo was easy-peasy if you have at least a little bit of experience with Bluetooth. If not, Jabra’s website has the most extensive collection of pairing guidelines for every single phone we’ve ever seen.

The Zirene Power Bass enhancement system seems to work well - for listening to music the headset is pretty decent, with full trebles and throbbing base.

As far as phone conversations go, as long as you are near to the limited range of the Bluetooth source, the voices sound good and clear enough. We noticed crackling sounds when we stepped in another room just a few feet away. The call-receiving party said we sound tinny and unnatural. Still, in a quiet setting, we were being heard fairly loud. When in an outdoorsy environment, however, wind blow was definitely a company in the shout-out, despite the noise-cancelling microphone duo on the Jabra Halo 650s.

The headset supports all important Bluetooth standards, and even AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile), so if your device supports it, you can return or advance songs from the touch controls on the right side. Answering calls is done with the physical button, and it also serves as a pause/play control when listening to music. The Jabra Halo can accept sound streams from two devices at once. The rated battery life is 8 hours of music and 8 days of standby, and we can confirm it survived such continuous usage twice.

To cap it off, we’d say that the Jabra Halo left mixed impressions with us. As mentioned, it is rife with cool ideas, like the folding design and touch-sensitive volume slider, but poor execution. The design is novel, slim and minimalistic, but maybe precisely because of that the headset rarely offers a tight fit on most heads. It is a good idea to include the standard audio jack cable in case Bluetooth doesn’t work, but the capricious charging indicator and port are regrettable, unless the issue is only with our unit.  The sound quality can be very good while listening to music, to poor and muffled voices when outside on a noisy street. All in all, it offers an average experience for what it is supposed to do, but throws in its streamlined looks for a good measure.

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Pros

  • Slim, foldable design
  • Separate microUSB to 3.5 audio jack cable
  • AVRCP support, if present on your device

Cons

  • The headset doesn’t fit firmly around the ears
  • The touch-sensitive volume control works on a whim
  • The charging indicator is not very reliable

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

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