I prefer to think of Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth headsets as fashion ear candy versus just as drab hands-free devices. Their earpieces tend to always exemplify innovation, design, and they provide amazing sound quality to boot. To that effect, the Aliph Jawbone series of headphones have seen many variations over the years. There has been the flagship Jawbone, then Jawbone 2, Jawbone Prime, Jawbone Icon and now the Jawbone Era. Lets also not forget their recent foray into Bluetooth speakers with the Jambox. So what does the Jawbone Era offer that surpasses its predecessors, as well as its current competitors? Well… a whole lot, and as a matter of fact, the Era could be their best bluetooth headset yet.
Once again design and function go hand in hand with the Jawbone Era. Upon opening the box you just have to wonder what went in to those packaging meetings. This isn’t just your typical blister pack. It has a polish all its own from the sleeve to its collapsible cardboard arms. Everything is layered in the packaging to make it feel more special. Included in the packaging is a Jawbone Era, 8 rubber earbuds, 4 of which come with integrated rubber hoops for that twist and lock feature Jawbone is well known for, as well as an optional earloop solution. There are also manuals included, and a USB cable along with a power adapter.
The Jawbone Era certainly doesn’t lack in good looks. The headset is well suited for business professionals and fashionistas alike and comes in different styles such as Shadowbox, Smokescreen, Midnight, and Silver Lining. In particular, the Jawbone Era differs to the Icon in regards to how it lays on your face from your ear. It is also about an inch longer, and half an inch slimmer than the Icon. The Era is curved more inward to give a more snug fit between the cheek and the earpiece. Fortunately, despite the extra length of the Era, the longer headset doesn’t seem obtrusive at all on your face. However, where the Jawbone Icon shined, the Jawbone Era wanes and that’s in comfort. Yes, they include additional earbuds with the Era to provide a more comfortable fit for ears of all sizes… however, the included earloop is almost pointless as it is too big for my smallish ears and doesn’t wrap around it, and it took trying on several of the earbuds to get the perfect one. After doing so, the Era held just fine – but comfortable it was not. My guess is that according to Aliph’s research the public has really big ears, because this selection of earbuds will be tough for those with petite ones.
The controls, be it minimal at best, are located on the top portion and underneath the headset. There is the Talk button located exactly where it was on the Icon, below the micro-USB port, and an on/off switch along with the Voice Activity Sensor with LED ring are located on the bottom of the device.
Unlike any Bluetooth headset I have tested before, the Jawbone Era looks to ‘shake’ things up. Literally. Pairing a Bluetooth device is usually so drab and boring… but the Era requires you to shake the headset four times to activate pairing mode. When the LED flashes red and white that means it is entering paring mode. Once that is displayed – all I had to do was go to my cellphone and set it up. The Jawbone Era was listed under Bluetooth devices and ready to be connected. It was super easy and I didn’t have to shake it like a ketchup bottle for it to work. The concept might seem gimmicky at first, but you soon get used to it.
Shaking – who knew it could be so cool to shake a Bluetooth headset. These shaking features also works when the device is not in your ear and you need to answer a call. Just shake twice and the call will be answered. Another cool feature is the “TapTap.” By tapping your headset on the outside you can answer a call without fumbling for the Talk button. Another unique way to utilize the tap function is to tap 2 times to switch between calls. The motion sensing software just makes this headset even more different that its brethren out there. Some other nice feature rich touches include the built-in accelerometer (that enables that ShakeShake feature) and a dedicated applications processor, with this technology Jawbone Era’s functions could be limitless and unique when combined with apps. The Era also packs in some hefty HD quality audio which makes listening to your mother ever that much more clearer and painful, all at the same time.
As we mentioned already, the Jawbone Era packs in HD quality sound like no other. Callers will experience a crisp and clear conversation and you do as well. Wondering around NYC on a windy day, the headset stayed put and so did the sound quality. I didn’t experience any noise or feedback. Callers heard me clearly as I did them with little to no noise in the background – even with my hair whipping around when the wind got a bit too much…the headset did start to get a bit staticy, but I consider that to be in an extreme condition. Another nice touch to the Jawbone Era is that it is optimized to listen to your media as well. Now certainly one earbud is not going to suffice for a proper music listening experience, but for what its worth, the Era did the job and tunes sounded clear and balanced. There was no bass to speak of but it can do the job, if you forget to bring your headphones with you one day.
The Jawbone Era is another welcome addition to the Aliph line of Bluetooth headsets. It’s classy, has unique capabilities, and does what it is supposed to do very well. Not to mention that it adds to the plate HD quality sound, an accelerometer, and polished good looks in several different styles. The Aliph’s only downfall is comfort. If it had been more comfortable to wear (personal taste) and provided options for ears of all different sizes, then this would be probably the best Bluetooth headset on the market. However I’m hopeful that the next generation of this headset will wow us again, but that it will also concentrate on basics like comfort. The Aliph Jawbone Era is certainly pricey at $129.99 but for all of the features and quality that it provides, as well as access to the My Talk App Store for the Jawbone… the possibilities of where you can take this Bluetooth headset are endless.
The Good: Trendy design will appeal to ladies and hip guys alike, HD quality audio, new features like ShakeShake and TapTap make this headset stand out from the crowd, handled itself well when walking at a fast pace or in the wind, music plays back nicely on it too.
The Bad: Not comfortable to wear for long periods of time nor is it small-ear friendly, Pricey, ShakeShake and TapTap may seem gimmicky at first but it’s kind of cool.