The Jaybird Sportsband is a wireless headset that aims to be the perfect workout companion by letting you wirelessly stay connected to your phone and music while you burn calories.
Even the JayBird Sportsband packaging exemplifies the fact that the Sportsband is intended for those who work out and are athletic. It’s headband style design seems to be a growing popular trend for bluetooth headphones, since its design is pretty similar in style to the Jabra Halo that we reviewed not too long ago. So forgive us if we compare it to the Halo a lot. But unlike the Halo, its design is not foldable so you’ll need to be careful when tossing it into a gym bag, that it doesn’t break. However, the Jaybird’s Sportsband’s earpads do move and contour to your ears for extra comfort and improved sound quality unlike the Jabra Halo which earpads are stationary. The headset itself is a made of a rubberized material and if bent hard enough, it just might snap, but it is otherwise very sturdy. The headset is also adjustable to the size of your head, allowing for the earpads to fit onto your ears perfectly regardless of the size of your head.
Also, unlike the Halo, there are no touch controls on its earcups, but instead there are actual tactile buttons that you press to increase/decrease the volume, pair the device and go the next song or answer a call. I prefer this over touch controls on the Halo which aren’t always reliable. The previous/next buttons also indicate that the headphones have AVRCP support, unfortunately the iPhone doesn’t fully support AVRCP so you wont be able to take advantage of the previous/next buttons when playing music.
What’s in the Box:
In the box is of course the Sportsband, as well as a USB cable to charge the device, and User Manual. That’s about it – no carrying case or holster for your Sportsband.
Typical of all Bluetooth devices, in order for them to work they need to be paired. The same goes for the Jaybird Sportsband. Unlike, the Halo It doesn’t turn on automatically when adjusting the earcups. To power your Jaybird Sportsband, you must first hold down the main center button on the right earcup and wait for a red light that then turns blue. Second, in order to pair the device you must again hold the center button down for at least a good thirty seconds and the blue light starts to turn red and pulses quickly between both colors to begin pairing phase. I paired it first with my Macbook Pro and then my Nexus One, so that they were both paired at the same time. Overall, the headphones paired easily between each device. To shut the Sportsband off you just hold down the main center button on the right earcup again and it shuts off by emitted a red light, and then a slight beep noise.
Call quality was clear indoors and outdoors. Would I answer a phone wearing a pair of headphones all the time? Probably not, but having that option is certainly handy when you are exercising. I was able to pick up a call and chat for a few minutes clearly without any noise or feedback, and the party on the other end had no problem hearing me either. I was also able to walk pretty far away from my Nexus One without the call dropping out or getting any kind of noise. I would say that I was able to get as far as 30 feet away without audio starting to cut out.
As much as we love to answer the phone to chit chat, really this device is going to be used for traveling, working out, or just lounging while listening to music. The need to listen to your music with out the pain of wires is becoming more the norm, but sadly the sound quality for these type of wireless bluetooth headsets are usually poor in comparison to its wired counterparts.And unfortunately, in the sound quality department the Jaybird Sportsband didn’t blow us away – the sound quality was just OK. I listened to music on both my Nexus one and Macbook Pro and even the iPhone, and I wasn’t that all impressed. In comparison to the Jabra Halo, the Halo performed much better. The Sportsband exhibited a lot of noise and feedback, especially when I turned the volume up. And yes, you could hear the bass in the Sportsband, but the overall quality of the sound was not very impressive. I had to keep increasing the volume in order to really feel the music and when I did – it became even more watered down with static… The sound quality did improve, when you played songs with higher bit rates, but most Mp3 players or cellphones will generally not be playing higher bit rates. We had expected more from this pair of headphones since our previous review of the JayBird JB-200 headphones left us very impressed with the headphone’s audio quality. The headphones also don’t provide noise isolation, but that really didn’t bother me as I like to be aware of my surroundings.
According to Jaybird the battery music time will last 8 hours, the total talk time will last 11 hours, standby will last 250 hours. Well first things first – the Sportsband did not last the 250 hours it claims on standby – by the next day the battery was already dead and I had to recharge it. It’s also annoying because it charges on by the included USB cable that was included and that needs to be attached to a computer in order to charge. The 8 hours of music playback was about right, but because the battery life is sucks on my Nexus one, I never made it to 11 hours of talk time. However, when I recharged my phone and attempted again (the Jaybird had not been recharged) it did last another few hours of talk time. So all in all, it’s battery life is solid, and as long as your phone has a decent battery life – the Sportsband will keep up with it.
The Jaybird Sportsband definitely has a lot of nice features: earcups that pivot, a very comfortable design that stays on your head, dedicated buttons that you can operate easily, decent battery life, and solid call quality. However the few places were it lacked seemed to overshadow the other aspects that were good, like the overall sound quality for music and the fact that the Sportsband is not convenient at all for traveling without the fear of breaking it. Pairing can be temperamental as well, when trying to re-pair with a device after you switched to another device. If the Jaybird Sportsband and the Jabra Halo got together and had a kid, then maybe we would have the perfect Bluetooth handsfree headset once and for all. To its credit though, the JayBird Sportsband is much more affordable than the Halo as it retails for $89.99 or $79.99 at Amazon.
The Good: Adjustable earcups, sits on your head comfortably and doesn’t slip off, pairs quickly, tactile buttons.
The Bad: Sound quality was just passable and not outstanding, Sportsband doesn’t fold and could be cumbersome to travel with.