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Aliph Jawbone ICON review

Jawbone ICON 3The Jawbone ICON is Aliph’s latest Bluetooth headset and comes with quite a family pedigree behind it.  Aliph’s Jawbone range has long been a headline name in the  Bluetooth world, so when Aliph sent us a Jawbone ICON review unit we put it through its paces.

First impressions of the Jawbone ICON

The Jawbone ICON ships in an attractive display box which can be repurposed into a vase or other handy receptacle, similar to the BlueAnt Q1 which we reviewed recently.  This is a good trend, helping consumers to reduce waste if they choose to re-use the box.

The lower half of the packaging hides a comprehensive selection of earpiece fitment options, such as different sizes of in ear fittings as well as an earhook.  There is also a instruction booklet and charger hiding in there.  The charger for the Jawbone ICON is light, slim and has a detachable USB cable so the headset can be conveniently charged from a computer USB port.

Jawbone ICON 7The Jawbone ICON comes in a range of design flavors ranging from subtle brushed finishes to gleaming gold.  The one we have here, called the Rogue, has a smart glossy black-looking contoured exterior and shines deep red when sunlight penetrates its surfaces.  It was a bizarre light effect at first and I initially thought the black gloss was reflecting a red image in the distance, but the exterior is actually opaque.  Very cool.

The Jawbone ICON feels extremely light, similar to most other current top end headsets.  It also feels well made and is short but chunky as its Voice Activity Sensor is designed to contact the face.  This is integral to the Noise Assassin feature.  Unlike most headsets, the Jawbone ICON has a dedicated on/off button as well as a multi-function button.  However there are no exterior volume controls, so any volume changes must be done at the phone handset.

MyTalk for the Jawbone ICON

Aliph has taken an innovative approach regarding customization with the Jawbone ICON.  In addition to the aforementioned selection of exterior finishes, the software personality of the Jawbone ICON can be customized Aliph Jawbone ICON MyTalkthrough Aliph’s MyTalk website.  The site, which is currently in beta at mytalk.jawbone.com, detects the Jawbone ICON when it is plugged into a USB port and then offers a range of customization options including different audio voice profiles and languages.  MyTalk can also be used to assign speed dial numbers to the talk button on the Jawbone ICON.

MyTalk is great idea and I can imagine such a facility being even more useful for stereo Bluetooth headsets which would benefit from extra configuration options such as audio equalizers for example.  Kudos to Aliph for this innovation, I hope other manufacturers follow suit.  MyTalk is currently only compatible with the Jawbone ICON.

Using the Jawbone ICON

Pairing the Jawbone ICON with a BlackBerry Bold was straightforward; it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced pairing issues with Bluetooth devices.  Doing the same thing with an iPhone produces a dedicated battery meter for the Jawbone ICON on the iPhone’s status bar, which is a useful indicator.

I found that the Jawbone ICON fit snugly without a need for the earhook or other earpiece size fittings and it never felt like it was/ about to fall out, which inspires confidence for the wearer.  All too often Bluetooth headsets annoyingly pop out during conversations, but I never felt the Jawbone ICON would do this.

Jawbone ICON 12As would be expected from a high end headset, indoor call quality was excellent.  Caller voices coming through the Jawbone ICON’s earpiece sounded far superior to my BlackBerry Bold’s handset earpiece.  What was surprising however was the outdoor call quality of the Jawbone ICON, where its Noise Assassin technology worked very effectively.  In a direct comparison between the BlueAnt Q1 and the Jawbone ICON on a windy New York City street, callers told me that they could hear me better when I was using the Jawbone ICON.  At my end, I could hear them equally well on both headsets.

The Jawbone ICON does have a couple of shortcomings.  Its lack of dedicated volume controls mean that volume needs to be set on the handset.  Once this is setup I found it to work fine in practice, but I can imagine that some owners would like a volume control on the headset itself.  The Jawbone ICON also goes without A2DP support, so it cannot be used to listen to podcasts or music from the paired device.  Music would be in mono in any case, but there is a valid use-case for listening to podcasts or audiobooks on a mono headset.  Hopefully Aliph will add A2DP support as a future firmware update.

Is the Jawbone ICON iconic?

Overall the Jawbone ICON is a great headset whose minor shortcomings are easily outweighed by its creative software innovations, unique hardware design options and excellent call quality.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

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Mar 26, 2010 - Posted by | Hardware, Mobile, Reviews, Video Features | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] WEP301 Bluetooth headset review We recently reviewed the Aliph Jawbone ICON and BlueAnt Q1 Bluetooth headsets, which are both high end devices at the top of their game. While […]

    Pingback by Samsung WEP301 Bluetooth headset review « theONbutton | Aug 31, 2010 | Reply


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