Review: Jabra Halo Bluetooth stereo headset

Summary
If you listen a lot to web radio or podcasts when commuting, shopping, walking and similar, this headset is a good choice. It is not ideal for music and extensive phone calls.

Intro
I’ve had the Halo for about six months now. I got it as a replacement for my Koss PortaPros, which I have been using as my standard headphones when walking to/from work, listening to music at work and listening to music/podcasts when commuting. The Halo cost me about 800 NOK /150 USD. My aim was to avoid wire tangles and getting more use of the Bluetooth functionality on my phone. I also hoped to be able to use them for handsfree calling, as they include a microphone.

The headset


The Halo has a somewhat plasticky construction. They fold together, and the folding mechanism serves as an on/off switch. When you “open” them, they turn on and look for the BT unit they are paired to. I haven’t tried pairing with more than 1 unit at once.

On the inside of the head band, one light indicates BT activity and one light flashes to indicate low battery. The right speaker unit has a button on the outside, which can be used to play/pause playback (works in most Android music/podcasting programs I’ve tried), to accept a call, and to speed-dial the last person you talked to by pressing it twice rapidly. Sound volume is controlled by sliding a finger up or down the speaker unit – works well! – and skipping to the next or previous track can be done by double tapping on the upper or lower part. It’s a little bit tricky to hit the right spot for next/previous.

The construction doesn’t feel sturdy, and initially I was worried about the headset breaking, but I haven’t had any problems. I do try to avoid leaving them at the very bottom of the bag.

In use
The Halo is light and comfortable to wear. An added bonus for me was that, unlike the PortaPros, they don’t catch in my hair when I take them off.

When turned on, they quickly connect to the unit they are paired to, in my case a Samsung Galaxy S II. If no BT unit is available to connect to, you might have to turn the Halo off, enable BT on your phone, and turn it back on to connect. I thought I might be able to use the button on the right hand side to make a connection, but no luck.

Battery life seems to be about 10 hours of sound playback. I haven’t really tracked this closely – I just try to remember to charge them every now and then, and battery life hasn’t been a concern. The fact that the Halo charges over microUSB is a big plus.

Not having wires is great. No tangling into luggage or bags, no plug protruding from the mobile phone when it’s in my pocket, no work administrating the one metre long PortaPro wire when moving around.

The Halo works pretty well for exercise – except that the inside of the headband has a comfortable textile material which will absorb sweat easily. That makes me reluctant to use them when running.

Sound quality
This is my only major objection to this headset. I hoped it would be able to fully replace my PortaPros, but when it comes to dedicated music listening, they just can’t compete. In noisy surroundings – like on the bus – where the sound from any semi-open headset would be degraded by the sounds from the environment – sound quality feels tolerable. But if you sit in a quiet office space, like I normally do when listening to music, it’s not good enough. Consequently I bring my PortaPros with me for music listening. It is possible to use a cable to connect the Halo via 3,5mm jack instead of over Bluetooth, but as the PortaPros are a little more comfortable over a long timespan and have better sound quality even when the Halo is wired, I bring those instead of extra wires for the Halo.

Phone calls
Phone calls sound great – that is, if you are the one using the Halo. The other party tends to complain that the sound from the microphone is too weak, and if the other party is in a noisy environment, I most often use the handset itself for the call. Fortunately, the Halo can be enabled/disabled from the in-call menu.

Conclusion
On the go, I mostly listen to podcasts and streaming radio, and I don’t do a lot of phone calls. The Halo thus fits my needs quite well, and if your usage pattern is similar to mine, I recommend it. I do hope to see a future edition with better audio quality and improved microphone performance.

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2 Responses to “Review: Jabra Halo Bluetooth stereo headset”

  1. John Says:

    I have a Blackberry Pearl 8110 that I want to wirelessly pair with headphones for music listening while working out. There are plenty of headphones to chose from, but i’m not sure if my phone is compatible.

    The Pearl is bluetooth enabled, but it doesn’t specifically list bluetooth STEREO as a perk… other phones do specifically list ‘Bluetooth Stereo’ instead of just ‘Bluetooth’. Is there a difference?

    Any thoughts? Thank you much!
    ~Alex.

  2. Are Wold Says:

    Hi there!
    Yes, there is a difference. What you need is a phone which supports Bluetooth A2DP stereo (which is I think people mean by Bluetooth Stereo). I’ve tried googling around a bit, and it seems the Pearl supports this when running OS version 4.2.2 or later.

    Check out: http://www.blackberryforums.com/general-8100-series-discussion-pearl/84302-pearl-8100-has-a2dp-not.html

    Good luck!

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