Gadling gear review – Jabra HALO Bluetooth stereo headphones

Welcome to my Gadling gear review of the new Jabra HALO Bluetooth stereo headphones. When it comes to Bluetooth headphones here on Gadling, I’m only interested in products that stand out in the busy headphone market. The Jabra HALO headphones fit that quite well.

The HALO’s are very stylish, and look more like a pair of DJ headphones than Bluetooth headphones. For travelers, the HALO’s have a couple of pretty handy features – most importantly, they can fold. When folded they may not be as compact as a pair of in-ear headphones, but it certainly decreases their size. . Their best travel feature is the ability to become wired headphones. Included in the box is a cable that plugs into a normal headphone jack, which means you can listen to music in-flight without worrying about the “No Bluetooth” rule.
Controlling the headphones

Controlling the HALO’s is simple – there is just one button,and a touch sensitive sliding control. Sadly, that touch sensitive controller is a pain to deal with. It is usually too sensitive, and when your hair gets in front of it, it becomes even harder to control. It is a great design feature, but not very practical.

There is no power button – to turn them on, you simply unfold them, turning them off works the same way – just fold them up. This is a really elegant solution to something that usually annoys me. This also means you’ll never forget to turn them off before flying.

The single button is for picking up a call, ending a call and pausing your music. When listening to music, the touch control adjusts volume (by sliding) and changes tracks (by tapping). As you can probably guess, this sometimes goes wrong, and you’ll change tracks when trying adjust the volume, and vice versa.


The Jabra HALO’s are very comfortable – the entire inside of the headband is covered in black velour, all the way down to the earpieces. Those earpieces can slide up and down about an inch and a half, so even those with a larger than average head won’t have a problem getting a good fit.

Because the headband fabric lacks “grip”, the HALO’s don’t sit too tightly on your head. This is obviously fine if you are relaxing in your first class seat, but don’t plan on running through the airport with them.

Sound quality

I put the Jabra HALO’s through a whole bunch of tests. As Bluetooth stereo headphones, they sound good – really good. In fact, I could not really detect any difference between wireless or wired mode. Audio does lack some bass, but without a pair of massive cans, you’ll always suffer from this.

Volume is good, but because the earpieces don’t go around your ears, too much ambient noise will mean you’ll need to turn them up quite a bit.

Call quality is decent, and obviously depends on the environment. In a moderately noisy room, they performed very well. The HALO’s feature dual microphone noise canceling circuitry, which obviously works hard in the background. That is, until the outside noise becomes too much for them to deal with. In a noisy location, like a train station, the HALO’s pick up quite a lot of noise. The call is still quite acceptable, but you’ll need to talk up, and the person on the other end of your call may start complaining.

Design and features

Jabra headsets have always had a strong emphasis on design, and the HALO’s continue that tradition. From the inner fabric lining to the touch sensitive controls, they certainly manage to stand out in the busy Bluetooth world.

The folding mechanism initially scared me – when you fold the HALO’s, there is a loud “click”, and the first couple of times, I was worried that I’d break them. I’ve now opened and closed them 100’s of times, and they are still going very strong, so Jabra clearly put some effort into this mechanism. The black velvety fabric on the inside feels nice, but it also acts as a bit of a dust magnet, so may need some cleaning every now and then.

The HALO’s come with multi-use technology, which essentially means you can pair them with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. This allows you to connect them to your mobile phone and Bluetooth enabled MP3 player simultaneously.

Battery life is rated at 8 hours talk/music time, which means you can use them all day long. You can charge them using the included adapter, or any powered USB port.

In order to use the Bluetooth stereo feature in the HALO’s, your phone will need to support the A2DP audio profile, and for controlling music, they need to support the AVRCP profile. Most Bluetooth enabled phones tend to include support for this nowadays, though some phones have a limited implementation. The iPhone supports Bluetooth audio and remote control, but only for pause/play, not for track forward/backwards.

Final thoughts

Despite the average call quality, I like the HALO’s a lot. Music sounds good, but could have a little more “oomph”.

The one feature that went from quirky to annoying is the touch sensitive control – it really is a good idea, but poorly executed. Sometimes “real” buttons work best.

PROS: Great Bluetooth stereo audio, ability to fold and become wired, fold to power on/off

CONS: Confusing touch sensitive controls, average performance in loud environments

The headphones come complete with a USB charger, AC charger, audio cable and carrying pouch. You’ll find the Jabra HALO’s at your local Best Buy store, or They retail for $129.99.

Product review – The Gadling Big Bluetooth Bonanza

Got Bluetooth? In this review, I’m going to take a quick look at 5 different Bluetooth headsets – but I need to point out that this is not a “best of”, I won’t be announcing a “winner”.

Instead, I’ve picked 5 different headsets that all do something special. It could be a great noise canceling feature, or an innovative way to charge the device.

Here are the 5 headsets that grabbed my attention:

  • Plantronics Voyager 835
  • Plantronics Voyager 855
  • Lubix UBHS-NC1
  • MobileEdge M100 PowerSmart
  • Jabra BT3030

Plantronics Voyager 835

The Voyager 835 is the newest allrounder from headset maker Plantronics. On the outside, the headset looks like any other unit out there, but 2 things make it worth a position in this review.

The Voyager 835 has 2 microphones, and a the Plantronics AudioIQ noise canceling system. These technologies means you’ll be able to make a phone call without the other end thinking you are calling from the moon.

The headset is also one of the most comfortable of the ones I tested. Its clear ear clip and molded earpiece made it a real pleasure to wear, and even after a 40 minute phone call it felt just fine. One notable item missing from the package is a set of spare earpieces. For some reason, Plantronics decided not to include them with the Voyager 835. Of course, if you take good care of the headset you’ll never need them, but I can’t help feel that a spare set of parts would make more sense.

The Voyager 835 charges using MicroUSB, the newest format plug popping up on phones from Nokia, Motorola and RIM (Blackberry). Included in the box is a pretty slick car charging adapter that functions as a charger and dock for the headset when you are not using it. This $20 charger is currently included for free with the headset.

Price: $119.95 (MSRP)
Manufacturer: Plantronics


Plantronics Voyager 855

The Plantronics Voyager 855 can be converted from a normal “mono” headset into a stereo Bluetooth headset. The Voyager 855 also features a sliding boom microphone for getting closer to your mouth, and for picking up the call. The buttons on the headset can control compatible stereo Bluetooth devices, allowing you to skip tracks, play and pause your music. And, just so you know; stereo Bluetooth does not work on the iPhone or iPod Touch. Apparently Apple does not believe in the wonders of listening to cordless music.

The Voyager 855 also features the Plantronics AudioIQ system, which greatly improves the quality of your call.

The headset also supports Multipoint connections, which is a slick way of saying it can be connected to more than one device at the same time. This feature means you can be connected to your phone and a Bluetooth music player, and still be able to listen to music while you wait for that important phone call from your broker.

Just like the Voyager 855, this headset charges using MicroUSB, and the package includes a USB charging cable and wall adapter as well as several replacement earpieces and a spare ear clip for converting the stereo headset to mono.

Price: $149.95
Manufacturer: Plantronics


Lubix UBHS-NC1

This wacky looking headset combines a bold fashion statement with a pretty ingenious design – the 2 halves of the headset connect using a strong magnet, allowing you to wear the it as a pendant. When you want to listen to music, you simply split the unit in half and wear it like any other headset.

Like the Plantronics Voyager 855, this headset supports Bluetooth stereo. On the back of the headset are 2 rocker switches which are used to change tracks, control play/pause, adjust the volume and pick up/hang up a phone call. Unlike most other headsets – the Lubix uses a normal on/off slider switch, which is a heck of a lot easier than having to hold down a button for 3 seconds to turn it on.

The Lubix may lack some of the noise canceling features found on the other headsets, but it really makes up for that with some astounding sound quality when used with stereo Bluetooth. The NC1 also supports 3D audio, which provides a really interesting effect to your music.

The Lubix UBHS-NC1 charges using a proprietary charging plug, but a USB cable and wall adapter are included, as well as several different earpieces. Also, like most headsets in this lineup, the NC1 has support for multipoint connections.

Later this week I’ll give you a second look at the Lubix UBHS-NC1 with the new Lubix iPod Bluetooth adapter.

Price: $54 (promotional price from Lubix)
Manufacturer: Lubix Mobile


Mobile Edge M100 PowerSmart

We’ve mentioned Mobile Edge here on Gadling before, but mainly for their excellent checkpoint friendly bags. In addition to these bags, the company also offers a lineup of travel gadgets. One of those gadgets is the new M100 PowerSmart Bluetooth headset.

The M100 is special thanks to an ingenious folding design. When you are not using the headset, you simply fold it flat and attach it to the included lanyard clip. When in the “off” position, you get a whopping 60 days standby time out of the headset. The headset comes with an AC adapter and a very clever L shaped USB plug.

The M100 is also pocket friendly – when in the standby position, the headset locks the call button, preventing one of those embarrassing phone calls made to friends by mistake.

Audio quality is quite outstanding, mainly thanks to the flanged earpiece, which keeps the headset nice and snug in your ears, blocking outside noise.

Price: $79.95
Manufacturer: Mobile Edge


Jabra BT3030

The Jabra BT3030 looks more like an ID tag than a Bluetooth headset. Complete with a chain for around your neck, the BT3030 is the only headset in this lineup that connects to a pair of regular headphones. On the front of the BT3030 are buttons for volume, music control and call control. On the bottom of the unit is a miniUSB charging plug and on the top is a microphone.

The combination of a built in microphone and a headphone jack means you can use this Bluetooth device to listen to music using the included headphones, or any other (noise canceling) headphones you want, and use it to make phone calls.

The headset comes complete with an AC charger, chain and plastic clip, in case you don’t want to wear it around your neck.

Price: $79.99
Manufacturer: Jabra

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