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Aliph Jawbone Era (2011)

Est. $60
Reviewed
May 2014
by ConsumerSearch
Aliph Jawbone Era

Cheap Bluetooth headset

Pros
  • Excellent HD-quality audio
  • Innovative motion-sensing technology
  • Extremely stylish
  • Excellent wind and noise reduction
Cons
  • No dedicated volume rocker switch
  • Uncomfortable earpiece

Bottom line

Fashion-forward style and stellar sound quality allow the Aliph Jawbone Era (2011) to consistently appear in the top five of comparative Bluetooth headset reviews. Technology allows the handset to respond to kinetic cues (tapping and shaking) to perform a variety of tasks, as well as cancel noise and wind. The only drawback: The adaptive volume is sometimes too loud. A new version of this headset is available, the Jawbone Era (2014) (Est. $100), which features improved noise canceling technology and removes the motion-sensing technology.

Sound quality

Military-grade noise-cancellation technology.The Aliph Jawbone Era (2011) Bluetooth headset uses NoiseAssassin, a military-grade noise- and wind-canceling technology originally developed for use in military tanks. The Era uses NoiseAssassin 3.0 while the Icon utilizes version 2.5. (The 2014 version of the Jawbone Era has version 4.0.) Reviewers from CNET, PC World and PCMag.com praise the Era's sound quality, especially the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile-enabled (A2DP) audio streaming. PCMag.com's analyst describes his test as the "best single-ear Bluetooth music experience I've ever had."

The volume auto-adjust feature works well in both quiet indoor spaces and outdoors; audio is available in HD, with a speaker that's 25 percent larger than on previous Jawbone models. PCMag.com states the call quality of the Era isn't quite as clear as with the Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus, but it is close. One drawback identified by expert feedback is that the Era's adaptive volume is sometimes too loud indoors. Reviewers from CNET and PCMag.com also dislike the single volume button, instead preferring a volume rocker switch.

Comfort

Snug, secure fit.With eight different sets of earbuds included, the Aliph Jawbone Era (2011) is designed to be comfortable for most users, no matter the size and shape of their faces. Four of the earbuds are suitable for those who prefer not to use the ear-loop. Some reviewers say it took some time to find the right earbud and to fit it properly, but the Era headset was "snug and secure" even when walking without using the ear-loop. For those with larger ears, the ear-loop may be too small.

Usability

Shake, tap and talk.Called the "most advanced headset of the lot" and "a potential audio computing platform" by CNET, the Aliph Jawbone Era (2011) is still easy to use. Its most innovative technology is motion-sensing software and a built-in accelerometer. Users can direct the Era to perform certain actions by tapping or shaking it: Double-tapping the surface of the headset allows you to answer, end or switch calls, and shaking it twice answers calls when you're not wearing it. The associated software is smart enough to determine whether the shaking and tapping are intentional or accidental.

Aliph's MyTalk integrated web service, which offers customizable audio and dialing apps, is also available for the Jawbone Icon. Users download software updates and applications from the MyTalk website, and Aliph Jawbone plans to develop apps beyond the standard ones now available. A new MyTalk feature for the Era can upload your phone's address book to the MyTalk website so your headset can read out a caller's name in a human-sounding voice. Reviewers identify one usability problem -- the Jawbone Era's lack of a dedicated volume control -- and users say the auto volume adjustment doesn't meet their needs.

Appearance

Tradition in design.The discreet Jawbone Era shares the fashion-forward style of its predecessor, the Jawbone Icon. The Era has a three-paneled textured front and is available in four low-key colors, all with a metallic grid overlay. Its case is slightly larger than the Icon's and curves to better fit the face and to ensure the Voice Activity sensor touches the cheek. TechRadar.com's reviewer sums up the Jawbone Era as "the only [headset] that you can look at and believe that someone made an effort to create something nice to look at."

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ERA by Jawbone Bluetooth Headset - Black Streak - Retail Packaging
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Our Sources

1. CNET

Nicole Lee calls the Aliph Jawbone Era "the most advanced headset of the lot," and gives it 4 out of 5 stars for its "high-end features, amazing audio quality and innovative design." She also likes its motion-sensing software and built-in accelerometer, which allow users to tap and shake the headset to issue commands. However, Lee says the fit of the Era isn't as comfortable as she'd like. The headset receives an Editors' Choice award.

Review: Jawbone Era Headset, Nicole Lee, Jan. 20, 2011

2. PCMag.com

Lead analyst Sascha Segan names the Aliph Jawbone Era one of his top-10 Bluetooth headsets, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5. He says it's "more than a headset; it's a potential audio computing platform." The sound quality for A2DP streaming audio is rated as excellent.

Review: Aliph Jawbone Era, Sascha Segan, Jan. 20, 2011

3. PC World

Aoife McEvoy gives the Aliph Jawbone Era 4 out of 5 stars and identifies its "shakeshake" gesturing feature as a standout design element. She is impressed with MyTalk, the company's integrated web service, and recommends the Era for people who make calls in a variety of noisy environments.

Review: Jawbone Era: Easy-to-Use Bluetooth Headset, Aoife M. McEvoy, March 29, 2011

4. Gizmodo.com

Brent Rose puts the Aliph Jawbone Era in third place on his list of top-five Bluetooth headsets. He says that although its stylish design and "neat features" like the accelerometer make it a favorite, the Era's call quality isn't the "best of the pack" and its volume button is annoying to use.

Review: The Best Bluetooth Headset, Brent Rose, Nov. 3, 2011

5. TechRadar.com

In this brief comparison of Bluetooth headsets for the iPhone from the U.K.'s TechRadar.com, the Aliph Jawbone Era comes in first for comfort and design but loses to the Etymotic EtyBlu2 for sound quality. Of the five headsets McCauley tests, he calls the Jawbone Era "the only one that you can look at and believe that someone made an effort to create something nice to look at."

Review: Best iPhone Bluetooth Headset: 5 Compared, Jim McCauley, Sept. 9, 2011

6. About.com

Calling the Aliph Jawbone Era "one of these products that set the pace for future models," Unuth praises its noise and wind cancellation features, plus its motion sensor that responds to shakes and taps. He also highlights the features available through Aliph's MyTalk platform.

Review: Jawbone Era Bluetooth Headset Review, Nadeem Unuth, Undated

7. Amazon.com

More than half of the more than 1,200 user reviews on Amazon.com give the Aliph Jawbone Era 4 or 5 stars out of 5. Many owners praise the headset's excellent sound quality, as well as its light weight and style.

Review: Jawbone Era Bluetooth Headset, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014

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