Product Review: Jawbone Icon
Recently I got to spend some hands-on time with the new Jawbone Icon by Aliph, a bluetooth headset for use with mobile phones and computers, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the device.
I have been on a search for a great Bluetooth headset to use with my mobile device for some time. I've used sets from companies like Sony, Plantronics and Jabra and for the longest time the only company to make a truly comfortable headset for prolonged use for me was Jabra. For a couple of years the Jabra X10 was my road dog. The device was lightweight so I could wear it for hours (I even fell asleep with it in my ear once while taking a train to New York City) and it had decent battery life. The killer for me about the X10 though was the fit in my ear. I have wicked tiny ear canals and the bane of my existence has been finding in-ear peripherals that not only fit, but are also comfortable. While the X10 was comfortable, the over-ear hook to hold it in place was flimsy at best and after the third set of replacement loops I knew it was time to look into a new headset.
I once again found myself traveling back and forth between Best Buy and the Apple Store comparing the Bluetooth headsets of both stores trying to settle on a winner. It was my accidental eavesdropping on another shopper's conversation with a salesperson that the Aliph Jawbone even hit my radar. After hearing the customer tell the salesperson they were specifically looking for the Jawbone headset –- making it clear that no other substitute would do –- my interest was piqued. As the store was out of stock of the Jawbone and in the interest of saving the sale, the salesperson did their best to convince the customer that the store had headsets just as good as the Jawbone in stock, but he wasn't buying. The customer then went into a story explaining how great the quality of his previous Jawbone was, even while driving on the highway with the top down, and that no other headset that he had ever known even came close to offering that kind of performance. The salesperson sheepishly asked the customer what happened to that previous headset. The customer looked over with a grin and said, "wife got a hold of it." Within an hour after hearing this conversation, I had tracked down and purchased a Jawbone of my own.
I loved my OG Jawbone. The headset offered the most clear reception and broadcast quality that I had experienced using a Bluetooth device, it got great battery life and was worth the money if you talked and traveled a lot. I used that sucker when I went to the mall, went walking, played video games (you always pick up the phone when ESHmom calls, folks, no matter what) but found the headset a bit heavy for prolonged use -- damn my tiny ear canals. So within a few months my Jawbone was relegated to event coverage trips only. It drove me nuts, because I really loved using the damned thing, but after 30 minutes in my ear it was killing me. I'm a talker, so most of my calls are just getting fun at the 30-minute mark -- and using the speaker phone option just doesn't cut it when using a mobile phone.
Enter the Jawbone Icon.
I was able to get my hands on a review unit of the Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset from Aliph and I have to say every major thing that irked me about my Jawbone OG seemed to be addressed in this unit. Its physical size has been drastically reduced, making the overall device much lighter in weight. The volume in-ear has been boosted a great deal, making the headset usable while out in overcrowded or fairly loud areas. I only wish I had been able to test the sucker at a concert to see just how improved the volume boost was compared to previous devices. The Jawbone comes packaged with a cache of perfect fit in-ear and over-ear pieces to make sure that you can seat the device in your ear and forget it. I used this thing on the bus, I used it on the subway (where cell signal was available), I used it in the mall and just about every place I went for 3 weeks and as I started packing the unit up to return it to Aliph I heard myself trying to argue for buying one.
The MyTalk portal, a webspace where you can update the device's firmware, customize the sounds and voices you hear when powering up/down the device or use your cell phone's voice dialing option, is a nice touch, but I don't feel it is an overriding reason to snag one of these devices. The fact that this device has the best quality sound in a Bluetooth headset with the simplest control set under $100 is the reason to buy it. The Icon sports a simple "on/off" slider control on the underside of the device, the "answer/hang-up" button on the back of the device and single LED indicator ring letting you know when its on, needs charging or is pairing make this a headset of simple complexity.
"It's only 99 bucks," I heard myself mumble in a voice loud enough that my husband could hear it and offer a valid rebuttal. After all, my Jawbone OG still worked perfectly fine and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. I really don't need a Bluetooth unit in my ear all day long. I'm just not that popular. I only need a good headset with great audio quality for when I know I'm going to be on the line for a while and have other things I need to attend to at the same time. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't come up with a good enough excuse to purchase one, but as soon as my Jawbone OG dies, you better believe I'll be picking up one of these guys.
Peep the photo gallery here.