Can you wear a Bluetooth headset and not look like a complete chop? That is the question I asked myself when I first got the Jawbone ERA in to review. So with my smartphone and vehicle in tow I set about testing the Jawbone ERA.
The Jawbone ERA Bluetooth headset is no thicker than three sticks of gum and around two thirds of the length of one making it tiny by anyone’s standards. And at just 6 grams it’s almost the weight of a stick of gum to boot.
It comes in a range of colours and has a rather pleasing metallic looking design which is, of course, completely made out of plastic to keep the weight down. There is a notification light surrounding the microphone and a microUSB port at the one end for connecting to your PC and charging the headset.
All in all it’s the best looking headset I’ve ever seen as well as the most comfortable to wear.
That comfort is a partly due to the low weight of the ERA, but also because it comes with four silicon earbuds – a small, medium and large right-sided bud as well as a medium left-sided one, which you can use to adjust the fit of the ERA to your ear. It’s something which I personally found valuable considering my larger than average size head-mounted-sound-input modules (ears).
There is just one switch on the ERA that turns it on and off and one button which controls all of its inputs with a series of long and short clicks. The lack of dedicated volume buttons meant that I accidentally turned the volume all the way down without noticing doing it making me think I had broken the headset but I managed to figure out my mistake after a few minutes.
The noise cancelling technology built into the ERA by Jawbone bears the colourful NoiseAssassin 4.0 moniker which, while sounding completely tacky and stupid, actually make calls sound crystal clear to those on the receiving end of your communications.
The Jawbone app lets you quickly check up on all of the functions that you can use the ERA to accomplish with its singular button, in case you forget one of them.
It also puts an icon in the notification drawer of your smartphone telling you how much battery life your ERA has available, although the same thing can be accomplished with a quick tap of the button.
The feedback voice can be customised with a range of free voices and a set of included languages but this has to be done through a browser on your computer with the Jawbone Updater software.
The Jawbone ERA claims to give just over four hours of talk-time on a single charge which was more than enough for a series of daily commutes around. The fact that it charges through the standard microUSB charger also made it remarkably easy to keep charged for when I needed it considering the mass proliferation of the connector.
At around R1 000 for the ERA, it’s not what I would deem an insignificant amount of money to be spending on something. However, considering the fact that the fine for talking on your phone while driving is a substantial part of that amount (never mind the danger it puts you and your passengers in) the investment in a Jawbone ERA seems like a no-brainer.
If nothing else the ERA headset has made me appreciate having my turn-by-turn navigation instructions spoken directly into my ear without having to strain to hear them over radio, ambient noise or conversations in the car. And for those two reasons alone it gets my stamp of approval.
Networking: Bluetooth 3.0
Other: NoiseAssassin 4.0 noise cancellation