6 July 2016

REVIEW: Jabra Halo Smart

Hanging around.

Let's face it, Bluetooth earpieces make you look like an idiot. Popping one constantly on your ear is like saying 'nar, I'm far too busy to take my phone all the way out of my pocket to answer calls, mate'. However, sometimes you might actually be getting a lot of calls that a hands-free alternative is preferred. In that case we heartily recommend the new Halo Smart from Jabra.

This is a set of Bluetooth headphones that neither sit on you head nor wrap around the back of your skull. They do in fact sit on your shoulders, with earbud headphones extending up to your ears. This means there is no extra weight pulling your head down, nor is there any chunky battery compartment on the end of a wire yanking your lug holes in all directions.

The shoulder section (which actually gently clings to the base of your neck) is light and flexible, meaning it can be bent into a comfortable position. And so it should; Jabra clearly intend for users to have this thing on all day, something helped to no small degree by a whopping 17 hour battery life. And that's 17 hours of talk time time, not stand-by time. Wow.

Go about your day with the earbuds dangling down your chest, stuck to each other by small magnets. When you get a call (and this is all after you're paired it to your phone via Bluetooth, mind) you simply separate the buds to answer the call, and pop one or both in your ears to talk. The built-in mic is wind-resistant, so you'll both hear very well, and be heard. By the way, the earbuds can also magnetically attach to the neck section as well, should you wish them not to dangle down.

One thing we really enjoyed about testing the Jabra Halo Smart out was the full integration with Google Now (and Siri, for iOS users). You simply tap a button on the headset and can talk directly to your Android phone, searching the web, reading emails and text messages (or rather having them read out to you) and adding dates and events to you calendar.

And, obviously, when the calls have been competed and your work is done, you can pop in both buds and kick back with some music. As stand-alone Bluetooth headphones the Jabra Halo Smart is great, with each of the 10mm speakers in the buds creating deep and rich sounds. However, as good as the sound reproduction was, we found ourselves using it for everything but music, as it creates a new and wearable way to interact with your mobile device.

We can see why Jabra hasn't pushed this as a set of headphones, rather as a phone tool. Due to the size and shape (not to mention the flexibility), the band can be worn underneath a collar, complete masking it from view, while the earbuds them can be tucked away beneath your shirt or under you jacket until you need them.

Infinitely useful, Jabra has constructed an excellent bit of wearable tech here.


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