Adriana's Gift Guide: BT earbuds, pt 2 (Jabra)

| December 19, 2009

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 50% of shoppers are procrastinators! If you’re among them, check out these last-minute holiday gift items.

Jabra Stone
SUMMARY: Unique design, especially with a stone-shaped carrying case that charges on the go (a MUST for heavy talkers). There’s no boom mike, so it is a “barely-there” accessory, but the ear nub isn’t a universal fit. This will work best for men (or people with medium to large ear canals). But the innovative looks, lack of boom mike and mobile charger will make this a drool-item for people who value subtle, distinct design over function.

PRICE: $129.99

The Jabra Stone is a neat-looking accessory. Once popped into the carrying case, the whole thing feels like a river stone in your hands. (I guess river-stone shapes are hot this year — yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Palm Pre!)

The Stone features multi-point technology and A2DP streaming, which seems great on paper, but the call quality wasn’t as spectacular as its looks. And the little nub didn’t quite fit snugly inside my ear, so it didn’t feel secure. So I wouldn’t take this, say, jogging or anything. The Stone also has touch-sensitive controls, which I kept accidentally hitting while putting the earpiece in.

So why is this on my gift list? I know people who want an earpiece, but hate having boom mikes in their faces, and the carrying case is also a charger, which is incredibly handy for chatterboxes. I know several people who, even despite the Stone’s shortcomings, still want it. It’s a matter of taste, and in this case, it’s definitely form over function.

Talk Time: 2 hours (headset alone); 6 hours when stored in charging case
Standby: 12 days




Jabra Halo
SUMMARY: Slim, portable wireless headphone set with a small 3.5-mm patch cord (for devices lacking stereo Bluetooth). The folding design is neat — until you realize this is the only way to turn it on and off. But highly mobile people who want stereo sound for music — from laptops as well as cell phones — may love having audio piped in to both ears.

PRICE: $129.99

Sure, audiophiles might sniff and turn their noses up — doesn’t excel with the noise-canceling, and the sides don’t fit snugly over the ears, so the sound isn’t exactly pro-level  — but even so, I still liked using this BT headphone. The velvety underside of the Halo was comfy, and being able to listen to music and podcasts, then seamlessly take calls was a treat. (It has a secret, built-in mic.) I had corded earbuds that let me do the same with my iPhone, but I’m so OVER cords. This kind of functionality without the tangled mess was just what I was looking for.

But if cords are a necessity because that MP3 player doesn’t have Bluetooth (or pairing it to a laptop on the fly is a pain), it comes with a short 3.5-mm cord. Add that to a cheap audio extension cord, and hardwiring in is a snap.

It doesn’t mean it’s a perfect product, though. Turning it on and off is kind of a bummer. There’s no switch, so you have to unfold the headset and pop in each side of the extended hinge to secure it and turn it on. Like the Stone, the Halo also has touch-sensitive controls, which may have seemed like a good idea at the time, however I found that I kept accidentally hitting it and lowering/boosting my volume. 

Even so, the mere fact that it folds down so compactly means it’s great for stuffing in a bag and hitting the road. And because it does pair well with my laptop, I didn’t need to bring separate headphones while traveling. So overall, this would make a decent gift for mobile music fans who aren’t snobby about hi-fidelity audio. (Think Dad and his show tunes playlist, not cousin Gordy, the club DJ with wicked spins.)

Talk Time: 8 hours (talk or music playback)
Standby: 13 days


Next, check out two Plantronics headsets, the Discovery 975 and Voyager Pro, or head forward to see the MoGo Talk for the iPhone and the blinged-out rhinestone-studded PinkTooth by chicBuds. (To go back to Part 1, click to see Novero's TheFirstOne.)