Rating: ★★★★½

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality and noise cancellation
  • Feature rich with more options to come in the future
  • Light weight and not too dorky

Cons:

  • Expensive; $129.99
  • Difficult to find a comfortable fit despite a myriad of included earbud sizes

An Era is defined as a “a period marked by distinctive character or reckoned from a fixed point or event”. So does that sum up Jawbone’s latest Bluetooth headset, the “Era”?

Much like previous Jawbone headsets of the past, the Era is packed with a number of ear bud sizes which can accommodate a wide variety of ears. They’ve included fits for those that are looking for a more secure experience (ear hook) or without (no ear hook). The included charger even adds some cache to the overall experience by featuring a malleable cord that measures a few inches in length, but stays configured in any shape thanks to a metal lining.

The Era’s power switch and LED status light hidden beneath the rubber nub to show battery life and pairing status

There are just two physical keys on the Era. On the under belly lies a power switch, while the tail features a talk button, that when pressed when not in a call, much like the Jambox, speaks the approximate battery time left.

What makes the Era so unique is that it is the first Bluetooth headset to use an accelerometer. Violently shake the Era twice and it will enter it into ‘pairing mode’. Shake it once while out of your ear and it will answer the call. Tap on it twice when in the ear and it will answer or end a call. On a few occasions the Era fell out of my ear (no ear hook in place) and as a result it ended the call. I suppose that the accelerometer mistook the sudden change in movement as if I were tapping on it twice, as in hanging up. I also had a difficult time answering a call by tapping on the Era – I felt like I was smacking myself in the side of the head – so most of the time I resorted to using the ‘talk button’.   Jawbone says that the Era will receive additional updates to enhance the accelerometer’s usefulness, but that has yet to be realized

Talk button and USB input

By default the Era announces the caller’s telephone number. But realistically this is a waste since these days no one memorizes phone numbers. But good news. You can add up to 20 caller’s names and numbers to the Era and it will do its best to announce their name when they call. To do this you’ll need to plug the Bluetooth headset into your computer using the included USB plug and then register for a MyTALK account, which is Jawbone’s web portal. There you can swap the Era’s default voice with a variety of characters, change features and add a myriad of applications that allow you to text using your voice, listen to email and so forth. However, some of these apps are from third party developers and require you to sign up for a separate account.

Having something constantly jammed in your ear looks out right geeky. But it’s an entirely different ball of wax (pun intended) if the Bluetooth headset is heavy and cumbersome. The Era however is light enough to forget that its even there and small enough that most might not even notice it.  I did struggle to find a comfortable fit with the included ear buds, and even with the ear hook in place the Era was a bit unstable and had a tendency to shift around.

Jawbone Era’s non-ear hook ear bud

Inside the ear bud is a 10mm drive. Impressive, especially for a Bluetooth headset. Jawbone stretched the marketing material by suggesting that the Era could be used to listen to music. While totally possible its sound is far too bright and almost complete devoid of bass – plus it’s in just one ear.  Nonetheless, callers sounded crisp, clear and plenty enough loud even with a large amount of street noise in the background. However, callers said that I sounded a bit muffled, but discernible nonetheless.

The Jawbone Era boasts Aliph’s latest noise cancellation, Noise Assassin 3.0. While we don’t know how much they’ve updated the tech since their last iteration, most said that the majority of the background noise was muted, that is until I began to speak. Volume of the Era was usually right on, which is also part of their Noise Assassin technology. However, on an few occasions I found myself adjusting the volume manually, but for the most part the Era automatically kept levels to my liking depending on the surrounding environment.  Of note, you can disengage the Noise Assassin by holding the talk button for a few seconds.  When I did this callers could, without a doubt, hear more background noise.

The Era comes in a 4 colors; this one is Midnight which boasts red accents

In terms of connectivity the Era had no problem pairing with my iPhone 3Gs, though on occasion it needed to be manually prompted to reconnect to the Jawbone Era. Few and far between the connection was slightly muddled during a call, as if something were interfering with the Bluetooth connection, but nonetheless it was never to the point of disrupting the conversation.

The Jawbone Era takes about 1 hour to complete a full charge, or 30 minutes to complete an 80% charge. It boasts a 5.5 hour talk time, which considering the size of the device is nothing to sneer at. If left powered on and not used, the Era it will enter a standby mode where upon the battery can last for up to 10 days.  These stats were about on par with my experience.  By default the Era can visually communicate the remaining battery life on the iPhone and Blackberry’s screen by displaying a small icon in the top corner of each respective device’s display. Flip the Era over and you’ll notice that the rubber nub also flashes red when the battery is almost dead.

The Jawbone Era is a feature rich Bluetooth headset, but with that comes a hefty price tag of $129.99. I love the fact that you can update it with a variety of apps, change the voice and that perhaps some days Jawbone will enhance the functionality of the accelerometer.  But it’s important to note that despite all this tech wizardry Jawbone hasn’t lost sight of its core objective, which is too build one of the best Bluetooth headsets on the market today with a great battery life, feature set and excellent noise cancellation.

You can buy the Jawbone Era from Amazon in a variety of colors for $129.99.



Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."