FirstLook: The new Jawbone ERA headset
- Company: Jawbone
- Model: The New Era
- Size: 2.25in x .7in
- Weight: Headset .4oz, Case .5oz
- Color: Silver
- Case Color: Silver
- Price: $129.99
- Website: www.Jawbone.com
Jawbone may have dipped it’s toes into fitness wristband trackers and Jambox speakers. But they have gone back to their roots with it's new version of the ERA headset. Jawbone made their mark in the headset market primarily due to their military grade noise cancelation technology (Noise Assassin). This technology set them apart from the competition.
They where determined to make big changes in this version. They began by trimming fat off and reducing its size to 42% of the previous version. The earbud was reinventing with comfort for long periods of time in mind. Audio quality was improved to HD quality. They also factored style into the mix and now offer it in four colors - black, silver, brown and red to suit your taste.
A need for extended battery life was another problem they wanted to fix. People have been using these devices for longer periods of time. With services like FaceTime, Skype and music on the go. They answered this by developed a carrying case that doubles as a charger pushing you towards 10hours of talk time.
I wanted something with a clean look. That would match my other brushed aluminum gadgets. The silver headset and case seem right up my ally.
Packaging was minimalistic, however I’m not sure if this is a retail box seeing there are no barcodes or anything on the box. Upon unboxing I found that the silver on the front seemed painted on. It also seemed to have more of a shine to it then I thought. The back of the headset was an unpainted grey plastic. I would admit I was hoping that the silver portion would be more brushed aluminum like.
One of the first things you will notice is how light this headset is. I can see why they decided to going with plastic. The headset it felt very solid in your hand even when squeezing a bit. I felt no flexing in the plastic at all when squeezing.
The new earbud is a huge step up from their old design. This design isn’t totally new there are plenty of other companies with similar designs out their. With that being said Jawbone has made a smart move here. This new earbud design is not meant as in ear noise isolation bud. You will hear whats going on and in fact they feel like you have nothing in your ear. Add that with a comfort and a great clean sound and you will notice that you're wearing them longer.
This time around the ERA also has an optional carrying case. I always hated throwing my headset in my pocket and pulling lint out of it. So combining a case and charger sounds brilliant. I decided to go with the Silver case to match the headset. Again the charger seems to be all plastic silver on the top and grey inside and underneath. However the silver portion seems closer to a brushed aluminum look. Honestly could very well be. If it’s plastic it's a good copy. Looking at both the headset and charger from say 2 feet away they pretty much match. When you get closer you can tell the headset has a more glossy paint vs the case thats more of a brushed look.
Charging using the case was fairly easy. On one side of the case there is a male mini usb connection that flips up. You flip the connector up plug your headset in and flip down. When down you will know its charging by a red light blinking on the headset. You will also notice 3 white dots on the side of the case indicating your case’s charge level.
The idea of not having to pick lint out of my headset any more is awesome. Jawbone's case really only fixes one of my problems. When the headset is in its case the earbud is still exposed. So when you do throw it in your pocket with the case on. I don't see it preventing any lint from findings its way to it. Time will tell…
Features & Specs:
- Smallest, Lightest, most comfortable headset Jawbone has created
- Improved Audio with higher efficiency speaker, Enhanced EQ,, Mic array and Voice Activity sensor
- Stay Hands Free with Bluetooth range of up to 33 feet and support for Enhanced data rate and HFP 1.6, A2DP 1.2, AVRCP 1.4, HSP 1.2, SPP profiles
- Keep connected with Bluetooth, Micro-USB and Simultaneous multipoint connections.
- Military grade NoiseAssassin 4.0
- Battery life with 4hours talk time and you can double that plus some to 10hours with the charging case
What’s in the box:
- Era by Jawbone headset
- Era Charging case
- 6” Micro usb cable
- 4 earbuds (3 right, 1 left)
- Quick start guide
Final Thoughts: (after a week of use)
I was doing my part and attending jury duty this week. I had the opportunity to put the new ERA headset though extend use in multiple scenarios and applications.
Audio quality was extremely clear while making phone calls and watching videos. The biggest improvement I noticed came from services that supported Wideband audio. The new ERA headset now supports more upper and lower frequency ranges making services like FaceTime and Skype which support wideband audio shine. Most of my calls were done in my car with open windows or on the street with lots of ambient noise. The recipients on the other end of my calls claimed the audio was very clear and could not make out any ambient noise when speaking or not. Thanks to Jawbone's NoiseAssassin 4.0 noise cancellation software.
I found myself wearing this headset way longer then I expected due to the fact of its light weight and comfortable new earbud. With the previous versions my ear would hurt after a while and went right back in my pocket after a call. It was just uncomfortable to keep in when there was no need for it. Jawbone has turned my frown up side down and has me using the new ERA headset more then I even realize.
Software built into the ERA and other headsets have always been great and very configurable. With things like low battery audio alerts, configurable buttons and voice spoken callerID. They have a good track record for keeping and pushing the envelope with their software and firmware on all their devices. The new ERA headset plays very nice with 3rd party software. Things like Siri and Google now work great. Which is not surprising since they worked well before. They are also piping both left and right audio channels into the same earpiece now. What that means is when streaming audio to your new ERA headset you will now hear both channels.
I would recommend the ERA headset to anyone in the market for a new headset. Its slim form factor, excellent audio quality and features puts this device on the top of my buy list.
Disappointments: (small nit-picking)
- Wish the outer casing was aluminum to give a more premium Look and feel
- Better color matching and style between the Silver Headset and Case
- Would liked to see the earbud with in the case and not exposed