Almost Great Headphones
Jul 1, 2012
Review by Pirich
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Compact, simple to use, good headphone sound quality.
Cons:Mediocre build quality, sound cut-outs, variable microphone sound quality.
The Bottom Line: Works well enough for limited use, especially with multiple phones. These suffer from build quality and styling penalties to funtionality.
The Jabra Halo2 is, at first glance, a very solid alternative to the dorky "Mr. Spock" single ear bluetooth headsets. It comes with the excellent abilty to interact with two phones, and has stereo sound throughput. However, unusual sound cut-outs and velvet liner material which sheds on fabrics detract from the overall usage experience.
Recommend this product?
I have used an iPhone for a while, and used a simple single ear bluetooth headset. However, I have moved in my work situation to an office area with the curently in-vogue dense-pack seating which results in anyone with average hearing being forced to learn all the details they never wante to know about their coworkers. As part of this, I am using a business mobile phone as my primary phone line. So, I started looking for the ability to have working headphones which could serve as my phone headset as well.
The Jabra Halo2 was an economical alternative at $99 from Staples. The headset had the ability to take stereo signals as well as serve as a phone with two microphones to defeat ambient sound. The headphones also have the ability to play-through sound signals from a phone plug.
Description and Usage
The Jabra Halo2 headphones are very compact and thin, with an unusually flat profile. The interior surfaces have an usuaul velvet texture on both the headband and the ear pads. The right side of the phones has the only controls, which include a multi function button and touch sensitive volume controls.
The extremely flat profile of the headphones conceals several features. First, the phones switch on and off by folding them shut, which extends concealed hinges. The Halo2 design consistently has chosen appearance over direct functionality. For example, the headphones have no movement or flex other than sliding longer on the headband. The USB power and audio input jack uses the smallest form factor of USB plug and is hidden in the bottom of the right hand phone.
The only indicators on the heaphones are hidden when the headphones are being worn because they are on the interior of the right hand phone. The only indicators are a chargning light and a bluetooth activity light.
The headphones are simple to set up and pair, since they just activate pairing and wait for a device to make contact. What is unusual here is they allow two phones to be paired at the same time. The way it does this is simply by consecutive pairings. The first pairing will have basic phone functions and the second phone paired will get the full set of phone, stereo, and control functions. If you pair another phone, it becomes the "Second" phone and the previous second phone become the "First."
Sound quality is strangely variable. With my iPhone, I have been able to get good sound quality both in phone and in stereo mode for continuous periods, but appears to be vulnerable to interference from the other phone. So, for example, the Samsung Convoy which serves as my work phone periodically breaks in with a test beep, which appears to interfere with any action the headphones have going with my iPhone, such as listening to streaming music can get interrupted and the headphones don't appear to be able to make valid commands. The solution is to fold the phones in so they switch off, then turn them on again.
When the headphones are being used to listen to music, they have fairly good frequency response. Full range volume response is somewhat limited. The touch volume control works fairly well, but signifies reaching the end of the range with a loud beep. Since the control is just a strip of the right hand phone, there is just an area to learn where you can cause volume to change by running a finger along it. However, it isn't proportional to where on the phone you are. Instead, just moving up or down causes the volume adjustment.
Sound quality in phone mode appears to be on the phone side f the interface. Phone calls made from the iPhone 4 I have been using are easy to understand from both ends. Phone calls made with the Samsung Convoy have been a radically different experience, where sound to the headphones is very poor, and the signal from the microphones is described as sounding like I am coming from the far end of a large cave. Why this is the case isn't obvious since it would appear the afected parts are in the headset, but obviously the results rely on the phone more than it would appear at first.
The headset can also run from a wired in source. The first way is using a cord with a 3.5mm plug on one end and the micro-USB plug on the other. The three band plug isn't controlled through the headphones, but is rather controlled by a separate switch on the cord, but does not have volume controls or any ability to control an iPod. All operation in this mode is like a simple set of headphones, and an incoming call play through separately. Unfortuately, the cable is realatively short, so it isn't really easy to use in this mode.
The USB cable will charge the unit, which seems a bit slow, since it is supposed to have 8 hours of talk time, but is the recharge times appear to be a minimum of two hours or more. However if it is plugged into a computer, it is possible to stream sound through the USB cable.
The biggest problem with the Halo2 has been with its fit and liner. First, the headphones are top heavy, so tilting my head forward causes them to slide off. Apparently the velvet interior was added to try to combat that tendency. The only way I have been able to keep them from slipping has been by wearing a baseball cap underneath. Within two days, the headphones had spots on the interior of the band where the velvet had worn off.
I find myself feeling conflicted about the Jabra Halo2. On one hand, it mostly does everything promised, has good sound quality when it works, and has good battery life. On the other hand, the quick wear to the liner, sound drop-outs, and floppy fit are hard to overlook. I would have rathered the phones had a more convetional appearance, as the bulk and weight wouldn't have been noticable if the phones worked better and held up to use better.
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