Now that Bluetooth headsets have become a mainstay in the market place – design is becoming as important as functionality. Many companies are kicking it into high gear and Aliph’s Jawbone is definitely leading the pack. Never one to shy away from highend design, their latest Bluetooth headset, the Jawbone ICON not only is stylish, but it also has an App store as well. Now that takes guts.
In the Box:
It honestly almost broke my heart to open the Jawbone ICON because it’s packaged like a piece of artwork on display. The review sample we received was the Jawbone ICON – The Bombshell. First you slip off the plastic enclosure covering the headset, and then you slip off the bottom portion which reveals two extra earbuds and an optional earbud with earloop solution - in case your ears are too small or big to wear the Icon. The packaging is also worth mentioning, just because of how everything was done to make it as compact and eco-friendly as possible. When you lift up the portion of the packaging that holds the earbud options - underneath are manuals, a small bendable USB cable for charging, and a power supply. Everything is small and petite with pull tabs for easy access, which is ideal for ladies with long nails.
The Jawbone ICON comes in six different styles, all with their own personality: the Hero, the Rogue, the Bombshell, the Thinker, the Ace, and the Catch. Each one has a different finish, color, and look, and they each weigh only 8 grams! All of these designs have feminine appeal, but in a classy, not overly girly way. Many other bluetooth headsets try to have feminine appeal by coloring themselves pink, red or purple, or throwing on some floral patterns, yet the Jawbone ICON succeeds in having feminine appeal just by the fact that its design is modern and fashionable. The fact that Aliph includes additional earbuds and the optional earloop is not only a nice gesture, but it ensures that no matter what type of ear size you have – the ICON won’t fall off unlike some other bluetooth earpieces we have tested in the past. There is also a switch on the ICON that lets you turn the headset on or off, and a talk button that is easily accessible to answer calls.
This is probably the easiest headset I have ever tried to pair with any device. All you need to do is a slide the button to ‘on’ on the Icon and turn your phone on to Bluetooth discoverable mode, and instantly the device is picked up. You can pair the device to another cellphone as well, and operate both devices when needed. I paired it to a Nexus One and an iPhone 3G s. The Jawbone will indicate it’s being paired by a LED glowing near where the on/off switch is located. If you have to have the Jawbone Icon in your ear while pairing – once paired a very lovely voice will play indicating the device is now paired. If you press the talk button while not on a call, the voice will also tell you how much talk time you have left too. The voice is the sound of a mature women that speaks to you and it’s weirdly comforting to know that she will tell you what’s up with your Icon as you use the device – it’s almost like having a personal assistant hidden in your Bluetooth headset.
Being that I was able to switch between different earbuds or the earloop if I so chose, it made it much easier to enjoy the sound quality and appreciate the Icon even more. Unlike the Jabra Stone where it was a certainly stylish and unique earpiece, the Jabra Stone never sat quite right in my ear. Fortunately the inclusion of earbuds and an earloop enabled me to fit the Jawbone in my ear perfectly and comfortably. The Jawbone Icon is all about style and enhanced sound quality. There is boom that extends on to your cheek but it doesn’t seem intrusive on your face or even annoying. For women with longer hair covering their ears, it practically becomes invisible to the public as it’s hidden away. However, the Icon is really an earpiece that is meant to be seen.
Just this past week we had a Nor’Easter in NYC and what better way to test the Icon’s Lethal NoiseAssassin technology. For those not familiar with NoiseAssassin from Jawbone, it is a technology that was originally developed for military use in tanks and helicopters, and features a wind reduction proprietary technology that eliminates background noise from mobile phone conversations. So this tech is definitely helpful on a noisy NYC street. I put the headset through its paces walking against the wind, standing in the line of fire of screaming fire engines, all the while on the phone talking to my friends and then colleagues who use various different cell phones. I then went to the dog park and watched as my pup played in the snow and barked away, and still the quality of the voice on the other end of the headset was crisp and clear and they heard me just the same. In fact, my peeps claimed that I sounded even better than when I talked directly into my Nexus One handset, and I have to admit they sounded much crisper and louder too than when I use the handset directly! The earpiece didn’t fall out of my ear once, nor did it give me a headache or ear pain as many of the Bluetooth headsets have done in the past after having worn it in my ear for awhile.
Yes, the Jawbone Icon has an App store. Well sorta – it’s called MyTalk which is currently in beta and exclusive to Jawbone Icon owners. It offers a selection of AudioApps and DialApps for free (carrier fees may apply but the App to download is free). Once you sign up via the MyTalk website which can be found on the Jawbone website, you will be sent two separate emails allowing you access to this additional feature. As we mentioned before, we where reviewing the Jawbone Icon – The Bombshell which already comes with a standard Jawbone audio voice, which we already liked very much. But Jawbone has turned it up a notch and has offered its customers customized voices specific to each model of Jawbone Icon. These distinct voices alert you to important information like how much battery life you have left and what number is calling you. So just because you own one version of the Icon headset, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the option of getting the voices associated with the other headsets. Personally I found the voices of The Ace, The Bombshell, and The Catch to be the best and they are also female. The men representatives sounded almost comical. In order to sync the new voice to your headset you must download the software to your PC or Mac and then all you need to do is choose which voice you want and then select ‘SYNC’, and it will automatically transfer to your headset when it’s plugged in via USB to your computer. This process is extremely easy, and if you run into a problem there are some video tutorials to help you out.
The DialApps allow you to use your voice to unlock special applications specific for the Jawbone Icon. Directory 411, Jott for hands free email, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Calendar interaction, 1800free411, and HandsFree Assistant. I’m sure there will be more Apps available in the near future as this app store is still in beta testing, but it certainly already offers a wide a variety of options that easily installs and helps you in ways you never thought possible.
The Jawbone Icon hits all the sweet spots – the device isn’t just pure eye candy, but a functional and well thought-out device that also looks to leave a small foot print on the earth due to its environmentally sound packaging. The headset offers truly excellent sound quality and noise cancellation, that not only will you appreciate, but those calling you will adore it too. The App store might seem gimmicky to some, but a lot of these apps are actually quite neat. For those looking to make the leap to an attractive Bluetooth headset that hits all the right marks, I highly suggest the Jawbone Icon. The boom is not intrusive on your face, the extra earbuds and earloop for optional ways to wear the device are very much appreciated, and it also happens to be one of the nicest looking bluetooth headsets ever made. Overall, you really can’t go wrong with the Jawbone ICON. You can grab the Jawbone Icon on Amazon from $89 to $99.95.
The Good: Excellent sound quality and noise cancellation, great design aesthetics, very easy to pair with devices, extra earbuds and optional earloop are included for a perfect fit, app store extends the functionality of the headset
The Bad: Fingerprints can be annoying, would have liked a carrying pouch for the price, pricier than most bluetooth headsets.