I get all tingly when a manufacturer offers up a gadget with cool features and out-of-the-box design; but then it’s a huge bummer when the gadget’s features don’t live up to expectations. Worse is when those exotic features end up being a hindrance compared with tried-and-tested ones.
And that’s exactly the case with the Jabra BT650s HALO stereo Bluetooth headset.
Full review after the jump.
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The HALO tries hard to separate itself from the pack. It features touch-sensitive volume and forward/reverse track controls.
There’s no on/off switch, but simply folding or unfolding the headset will turn the unit off or on respectively. It can transition seamlessly between two gadgets you’ve paired it with.
And if you don’t like sticking things into your ear, the HALO is a great over-the-ear bluetooth stereo headset option. Then there’s the radical styling.
Best to begin with the HALO’s blessings.
Setup is a snap. I had it paired with my Macbook and iPhone in a couple of minutes. And the transition from listening to music on my Macbook and answering a call on my iPhone works beautifully.
I’m not averse to earbuds; even so, the HALO felt very comfortable over my ears. The headset is light, and the velour fabric lining the inside of the headset adds a little plushness.
A simple, single button on the right earpiece answers/disconnects from calls, plays/pauses music and pairs the device.
Music streamed to the headphones sounds agreeable, if not overly rousing — about on par with that of a decent set of wired headphones. Bass is pleasing, but midtones and highs could be clearer. The headset also comes with a cable for use with players that aren’t Bluetooth equipped, like an iPod.
Now for the curses.
The touch controls on the HALO are frustrating and finicky. Adjusting the volume is not easy, and requires blindly fumbling for the control’s location on the outside of the right earpiece. Trying to skip tracks is an adventure in randomness that might produce the desired result, an adjustment in volume or just a lot of ridiculous-looking, increasingly-forceful finger tapping on the right earpiece that doesn’t do anything.
Most over-the-ear headphones have some sort of way to keep themselves on your head. Not the HALO. The headset wanted to make a break for it at what seemed like the least bit of head tilt. And while comfortable, the only thing that could have been worse than the velour lining for adhesion is if Jabra had coated the inside of the headset with teflon.
An almost-violent effort is required to separate the headset’s arm joints in order to fold them and turn the unit off. I feel like I’m back in elementary school, pulling the limbs off my G.I. Joe. Only this time it isn’t fun.
As for looks, the HALO definitely makes a statement. I happen to think that statement is “WE ARE BORG.” Your opinion may differ.
Much could be forgiven if one of the HALO’s two primary functions — a device for communication — worked well. But while I was able to hear what was being said without any trouble, callers on the other end frequently complained they couldn’t hear me very well when the background turned even moderately noisy.
Some compatibility notes: The HALO’s music-streaming feature requires the A2DP Bluetooth protocol, which means music streaming from a first-gen iPhone won’t work. If using an iPhone 3G, make sure the firmware has been updated to version 3.1 or later. Also, track forward/reverse controls won’t work with any iPhone at this time (though it works just fine with a Macbook).