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Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset Marks the End of an Era for Me

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I’ve been a big fan of Aliph’s Jawbone Bluetooth headsets for quite some time. As my wife and I have been packing up the house for our move across town, I discovered quite a few older models of the various Jawbone headsets dating back quite some time. What always attracted me to the Jawbone brand was the noise cancellation features. They call it Noise Assassin. It always worked well and I could hear callers and they could hear me in just about any conditions. After all that’s the reason I hang one of the things off the side of my head.

Jawbone came late to the A2DP party and even that didn’t deter me from using the headset(s). They also removed what some think is essential, a volume button, instead working to allow you to control it via your phone’s volume controls. I adjusted to that although it seems counter intuitive to something that is supposed to keep you hands free when driving. But since Jawbone released the ICON and now the ERA, I think I’m about ready to switch brands.

One problem plagues me the most. And that is using the headset out of doors. The specs say that the optimal temperature range for using one of these headsets is 32 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit . All well and good. Since using the ICON (the most recent model prior to the newer ERA) though I’ve noticed that the minute we’re dealing with colder weather or high wind that the connection just goes too flaky to rely on it. I’m not talking about below 32 degrees. I’m talking in the mid-40′s. That wasn’t the same with some of the older models. The same is true with the ERA. But, here’s the curious part. This past week we experienced unusually warm temperatures where I live. We might have even hit 70 degrees a time or two. With balmy temps I’m experiencing the same kind of flaky connection that I do in cold weather. And that just makes no real sense to me. Perhaps it is the wind, as we’ve had some high winds of late, but given that one of the features of the Noise Assassin is to cut down on wind noise that doesn’t jive with me.

The folks behind the Jawbone headsets have been working overtime it seems to create an App Store and all sorts of other functionality for the Bluetooth headsets. Most of that is ear candy (pardon the bad joke there.) While I’ve tried some of the Apps, none of them have stuck. A typical example of that is a feature touted with the new ERA and that is having your caller announced by name in your headset. Sounds like a winner of an idea. The difficulty is you’re limited to 10 callers and you have to program them into your headset. I’m thinking that’s behind the times for what other makers offer. I’m not alone with that thinking either. The support forums are filled with complaints about that feature.

It makes me wish that the good folks who came up with some impressive technology in their earlier models would focus on what they do best and forget about the frills.

In the meantime, I’m searching for a new headset. Anybody care to offer suggestions?

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

12 Comments

  1. Wazupwiturface

    02/21/2011 at 4:48 pm

    Only one I’ve ever used worked nice… Blue ant t1…but I was in a store with my phone muted listening to a congruence call while I was helping customers…so I’m sure that’s not a real test

  2. Jeffrey Tschiltsch

    02/21/2011 at 6:57 pm

    Actually you can have 20 callers in the callerId function (at least with the Era); my problem is I programmed them all in, updated my headset, and it didn’t work. So far the MyTalk stuff has been nothing “but talk” as far as I’m concerned. I’m ok with no volume controls, but no mute switch? That’s huge. Too bad the noise assassin tech works so great; I just switched to the Era from a Motorola HX1 and the Era blows it away as far as noise cancellation goes. The Era is also much more comfortable to wear. Hopefully they’ll add more functions to the MyTalk apps and we can add a mute function (and pause would be great for A2DP!).

    • David

      02/25/2012 at 8:26 am

       The ERA blows the HX1 away? Oh, I wish that was the case! The ERA’s noise cancellation is only better if the HX1′s stealth mode is not switched on. However I am surprised how well motorola’s crystaltalk technology works. It doesn’t filter out as much noise as the ERA, but your voice gets through clearly. But let’s see some other features: 1: if you connect the HX1 to two phones, and activate last number redial or voice dial on the headset, you have the chance to choose, whether you want phone 1 or phone 2 to perform the desired operation. NOT on the ERA. 2: volume up-down-mute button on the HX1. 3: different led light colors, that give you all kinds of information: red, green, blue, orange, purple. – this is an other feature I haven’t seen on any other headset. 4: you don’t have to take the HX1 out of your ear to power it on/off. 5: talk time on the HX1.. 8 hours. 9: that interesting thing that comes with the HX1 that holds it in your ear works much better than the solution other manufacturers use. I only saw similar on the new Bose bluetooth headset.
      HX1 negatives: no auto volume adjustment, no A2DP, speaker quality only average, stealth mode is great even in the loudest clubs (others will not have a clue that you can’t even hear your own voice) but you sound like a robot.

      Headsets I tested and I currently own: HX1, Plantronics Voyager Pro, Pro HD, Plantronics Savor M1100, Jawbone ERA, Jabra Supreme.

      So, which one is the best? The active noise cancellation feature (on the user’s side) and excellent inbound audio quality of the Supreme, the surprisingly good noise cancellation of the pro HD and the M1100, the design of the ERA, or the M1100, the battery life and other extra features of the HX1, the voice command features of the Supreme and M1100.

      So, is there a headset that combines all these positive features? :)

  3. Bill Cbh

    02/22/2011 at 6:45 am

    BlueAnt Q2 is my favorite. The noise cancellation is very close to the Era but the sound quallity is much better. It also uploads ALL of your contacts as soon as you pair it

  4. David Howard

    02/22/2011 at 11:51 am

    I agree with the comments here; it makes no sense to take away buttons like volume control. And my iPhone 4 / Blue Ant announces any contact I have calling in, so why have that on the in ear device?

  5. blackbaron

    12/19/2011 at 8:39 am

    what could
    be the problem with iPhone 4 and ERA – I was a big fan of jawbone first model -
    bought an ERA – but is not working great – people saying they can’t hear me
    really – very noisy – NO noise cancelation 
    - made a reset to factory settings and so on – is someone able to help?

    • Rano

      03/21/2012 at 9:12 am

      Same problem here. Did you resolve it?

      • blackbaron

        03/22/2012 at 12:41 am

        unfortunately I didn’t resolve it! Bought 2 other ones – 1 Blue Ant and now Jabra Supreme – Blue Ant very most of my callers saying it sounds very hollow —Jabra sounds very good – but it doesn’t fit very properly on my ear! I like – the handling – both of them cost only less than the half of an ERA – but still like jawbone – when I’m thinking of my first one!!

    • Hart005

      04/14/2012 at 10:25 am

      Same issue. I can hear callers fine, but they say I fade out at times and they can’t hear me. I realized that tons of people are having this issue after doing some Google searches. No one has a fix. Jawbones are sold in Apple stores. Maybe it’s time for Apple to step in force them to address this issue

  6. blackbaron

    04/15/2012 at 2:24 am

    bought now the 3rd headset – from Jawbone ERA to Blue Ant Q2 but isn’t great either – sounds very hollow – than bought Jabra Supreme – sounds very good – music – incoming caller etc… the only problem it doesn’t fit to my satisfaction – has someone an idea about the ear hook? otherwise it is fantastic!

  7. Keith

    07/13/2012 at 11:48 am

    Not sure if you are still looking but I have owned two of the Jawbone Era headsets and was recently asked to beta test another headset from another company. At the time i thought nothing could beat the era.. but after 3 hours with the new plantronics headset I was sold… A whole day of battery life, great quality and excellent microphone.. dedicated volume and mute buttons. I spent $200 dollars on the jawbones and I want to get rid of them asap…

  8. Jen

    07/29/2012 at 7:09 pm

    @keith: do you know when that new plantronics will be released? Thanks!

    Keith says:
    07/13/2012 at 11:48 am
    Not sure if you are still looking but I have owned two of the Jawbone Era headsets and was recently asked to beta test another headset from another company. At the time i thought nothing could beat the era.. but after 3 hours with the new plantronics headset I was sold… A whole day of battery life, great quality and excellent microphone.. dedicated volume and mute buttons. I spent $200 dollars on the jawbones and I want to get rid of them asap…

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