July 7, 2010

Review: Jawbone ICON Bluetooth Headset

(Update: 7/29/2010 - After using these headphones for a couple of weeks, I have really gotten to love them.  Jawbone ICON has really done a great job understanding the bluetooth headset frustrations and designed a great headset that is convenient to use with three notable features: 1.The physical on/off switch is really good, no more holding a button down and guess if its on or off.  2.The battery guage on the iPhone is really awesome, no more guessing if the headset needs a charge. 3. Option of not needing the ear loop so I can wear the headset without interfering with wearing glasses or sunglasses, well done Aliph!)

I've had the pleasure of playing with my new iPhone 4 with a new Jawbone ICON bluetooth headset which is dubbed as "The World's First Intelligent Headset". The Jawbone ICON headset, in short, is a very easy to use bluetooth headset, in fact, probably the easiest and most convenient bluetooth headset I've ever used.

Design:  The ICON is best described as petite in size; the unit is measured just a tad longer than an inch and extremely lightweight.  The original Jawbone was famous for its industrial design and you can still see traces of that DNA in this headset.  There are minimal buttons to the headset but the two available are well thought out.  First, the power switch, I love the toggle switch (actually moving it back and forth) to switch the power on or off... 99% of bluetooth headsets uses a button instead which creates a lot of frustration for me.  Second, the talk/receive/end button which is located on the back of the headset.  Its very large and easy to find while wearing; its positioned properly such that while pushing on it, it won't pull the headset off of ear.  I would have liked to have a dedicated volume buttons but the iPhone's volume knobs make it easy enough to deal with.

Comfort: As mentioned easlier, the ICON is very lightweight and it offers two different ways to be worn.  1). Ear Buds - package comes with 3 different size ear buds with a unique flap that works great to reinforce the headset by creating a unique tension to keep the headset wedged onto your ear, this is my preferred method and it fits me perfectly.  2). Ear Loop - package also comes with an Ear Loop and smaller ear buds for those who wants extra stability.  The ICON headset is very comfortable to wear, while I was testing it, I almost forgot I had it on over an extended period of time of wearing.

Ease of use: This bluetooth headset is by far, the easiest one to use that I've come across.  Pairing was a breeze, atleast for my iPhone 4, I simply turn on bluetooth on my phone and switch the headset on and within seconds it paired (instruction said to enter "0000" as pairing code but that wasn't even necessary for me).  Once paired on the iPhone, everything just ties together very nicely, for instance, I love the visual display of battery guage on the iPhone (reminds me of my Sony PS3 Bluetooth headset, review here), alternately, one can also push the talk/receive button once while no a call to hear a voice telling you "Approximately 3 hours of talk time left". That same voice will also tell you the number that is calling you (voice caller ID) which is great for when you are driving.  An LED ring indicator tells you various status (pairing mode, charging status, etc.).

The Jawbone ICON (MSRP $99) is the latest and greatest from Aliph, featuring 4.5 hours of talk time, 10 days of standby time, NoiseAssassin technology version 2.5 and software updates (visit mytalk.jawbone.com) to enhance its features down the road.  Being a micro-USB device, charging it will be simple as more devices moves on to micro-USB standard. Its easily one of the best headsets and works very nicely with the iPhone.


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