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Halo Smart Headset Review

Now, one can enjoy the dulcet tones of Siri or Google Now directly into one’s lug holes with the Jabra Halo Smart. This wireless headset aims to not only provide excellent sound quality, but also provide smart features via direct integration with IOS Siri and Google Now. Let’s cover in this Halo Smart review.

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality both from the earphones and microphone
  • Single button access to an in ear personal assistant
  • Good battery life, 17 hour talk time, 15 hours music

Cons

  • White noise sound as if the power was being connected and disconnected as I moved between different screens on an Android phone.
  • The two wires from the ear plugs protrude forward so they are in one’s field of view.
  • Difficult to get a good fit despite four different sizes of ear gel.
  • Difficult to attach the ear buds to the neckband as you cannot feel where the magnet is at.

Bottom Line

Good sound quality, excellent battery life and Siri/Google Now integration were compromised by the difficulty in getting a good, secure fitting.  Taking a devil’s advocate position that my ears are anomalous, I also see some issues with the practicality such as what to do with the earbuds when not in use.  Dangling in front is not so elegant and fastening them to the collar is tedious as you cannot see the location where the magnets are located.  So, capable hardware but some usability issues to contend with.

With the recent controversial move by Apple to abolish the cherished 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless headphones have received some new found attention. Of course it is not only slightly miffed Apple consumers that are attracted by the idea of being freed from the shackles of the 4 foot headphone cable. It’s no longer 2013, and these days wireless is the way to go. When it comes to Wireless headphones, it is no longer just a question of listening to music or using them for answering the phone. We are moving in the direction of hearables, which offer additional features such as the ability to access mobile personal assistants and read email messages completely bypassing the usual interface – the mobile phone screen.

The Halo Smart I received from Jabra is one such entrant into this field. Although widely heralded for it’s audio performance, I was particularly interested in the integration of the Siri and Google Now personal assistant. Let’s see how the Halo Smart performs in this review.

 

Design

Indeed the Halo Smart and an unashamed mullet are a match made in heaven.

The Halo Smart is composed of two components, the ear plugs and the halter, composing the battery back that rests on the neck and connects to either ear plug. This is my first time wearing such a design but I got accustomed to it quickly although I was cognizant of the cables protruding forward into my field of view. The halter itself can be shaped to your desired level of strangulation(I jest!). It can also be concealed by a shirt collar or longer hair.  Indeed the Halo Smart and an unashamed mullet are a match made in heaven.

One problem with the design is that the earbuds are rather unwieldy when not in use.  They cannot be retracted like in this neckband style model so one is left either with them dangling down at the front or struggling to attach thehalo-smart-storage earbuds to the neckband which is also not so elegant.

Additionally, I found it impossible to fasten the earbuds to the neckband while on the go – in particular jogging.  The neckband goes around your neck so is not visible therefore the signs on the neckband indicating the position of the magnetic link to secure the earbuds are not useful.  So, one is left to move the earbuds up and down the neckband trying to detect the magnetic pull between neckband and earplug.  As you can imagine, this can be tedious and in my case, when jogging, impossible.  This all lead to frustrating usage.

There are but four buttons on the headset. A multi-function button which functions as the on/off switch and for pairing the device. Two further buttons control the volume and the final “Voice”, button answers the phone or will trigger Siri or Google Now.

It is an entirely plastic construction and while this is durable and practical, there is no feeling of it being a premium product.

  • The Halo Smart Headset from Jabra.

One criticism that has been leveled at the Halo Smart is the fit and I have to say, I concur. Although, there are four sizes of ear gel plug that comes with the Halo Smart I found it difficult to get a good fit despite experimentation with all four sizes.  Putting the ear plugs in only initiated a slow migration back out again.  Trying to do sports with them was impossible so if that is your ambition, it may be better to check out other models specifically designed with that in mind such as Jaybird X2 or the Plantronics Backbest Fit.

 

Halo Smart Features and Functions

Although the raison d’etre of the headphones is pretty clear – listen to music, receive calls and integrate with the phones personal assistant, there are a few positive features to specifically mention.

  • Sound quality. This is perhaps the most important aspect of a smart headphone.  My personal experience of this has been positive, being crisp and clear.  I have one complaint about this area which is the electrical noise heard when music is not being played or one is not in a call.  Flicking between apps/features on my phone resulted in a noise coming through the earphones like the power was being connected/disconnected.
  • Battery Life. The battery pack is pretty substantial, resulting in a whopping 17 hour battery life. To put this in comparison, you can only listen to the Halo Fusion for 6.5 hours and 5 hours for the Halo Free.  To fully charge it takes about 2 hours.
  • Given the weight of the headphones is not suspended on the ears the 38 grams is easily tolerable.
  • Included in the halter is a vibrate function to provide indication of internal calls as well as confirmation of powering up/down the device.
  • The Halo Smart uses Bluetooth 4.0.  I had no problem connecting it to both an Android and IOS device.  Jabra states it can connect up to two devices and it should be able to maintain this connection for up to 10m.  It is quite liberating to be able to walk around without the phone and still maintain the connection.

There is also a software element to the Halo Smart in the form of the Jabra Assist app.  This enables control over dictation of  SMS, email, Calendar and social media messages.  Donning the Halo Smart, there were times when I felt like the protagonist in “Her”. The ability to have an in-ear personal assistant really reminded me of this film. You can check out the clip below to see what I mean.

Of course neither Siri nor Google Now can match the smarts of “Samantha”, but you get some idea where the tech could be going.

Halo Smart Price

The price of the Halo Smart if currently $79.91 from Amazon.com or 49.14 from the Amazon.co.uk site.

Jabra Halo Smart Review Summary

Wireless headsets are a boon for freeing oneself from the tangles of headphone cords.  Walking away from your phone while still enjoying music, having a personal assistant dictate messages to you and having Siri/Google Now answer questions by tapping a button at your neck are all experiences awaiting the potential users of the Halo Smart.   While I had no complaints regarding sound quality or excellent battery life there were a couple of niggling factors for me.  Those include the difficulty in getting a good fit, the electrical noise when no music is playing and the less than elegant solution for storing the earbuds when not in use.

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