Aliph Jawbone Icon boasts industry-first software platform

Aliph has introduced the Jawbone Icon, its latest premium Bluetooth headset. Not only does it look and sound great, it is possibly the most flexible Bluetooth headset out there due to an industry-first software platform.

The Aliph Jawbone Icon comes in six designs.
The Aliph Jawbone Icon comes in six designs. Aliph

Aliph has just unveiled the Jawbone Icon, which promises to be the company's most sophisticated Bluetooth headset yet. We had a chance to really put the headset through its paces for the past week, and we have to say it absolutely delivers. Not only does it look and sound great, it offers more flexibility than any other Bluetooth headset due to an industry-first software platform.

Note the Bluetooth headset battery meter next to the iPhone's battery meter. Aliph says this is possible due to the software platform on the Jawbone Icon.
Note the Bluetooth headset battery meter next to the iPhone's battery meter. Aliph says this is possible due to the software platform on the Jawbone Icon. iPhone screenshot by Nicole Lee

It's called MyTalk, and the Jawbone Icon has what Aliph says is an operating system on a chip. This lets Aliph do some really interesting things with this headset. For example, when you pair the Jawbone Icon with the Apple iPhone, you'll see a visual battery meter of the Icon right next to the iPhone's own battery meter on the upper-right corner. This way you can easily check on the Jawbone Icon's battery status. While this may strike some people as a small thing, we think it's pretty cool.

The big news with MyTalk, however, is that you can plug the Jawbone Icon into your computer and customize it with a variety of Audio and Dial "apps." Simply log on to the mytalk.jawbone.com Web site (which will be live shortly), plug in the headset via a USB cable, and the Web site will automatically detect it. You can then customize it with a variety of Audio apps, which are essentially voice profiles of different personalities.

There are six voice personalities--The Ace, the Hero, the Thinker, the Bombshell, the Rogue, and the Catch--plus a default that comes with the headset. The voices range from a deep male baritone to that of a sultry female. You can also have it in French, German, or Spanish. The different voice profiles are used for spoken alerts on the headset that announce things like incoming caller ID and the headset's battery status.

As for the Dial apps, they are essentially speed dial numbers you can map to the Talk button on the headset. Some of the Dial apps include Voice Dial; Directory Assistance; 1800Free411; Jott (a service that lets you dictate notes, reminders, and more); and Dial2Do; which is similar to Jott. Though calling these personalization options "apps" is a bit of a stretch, we really have to commend Aliph on the intuitive interface of the MyTalk Web site. Perhaps the best thing about the MyTalk software platform is that Aliph can easily send out firmware updates this way.

The MyTalk Jawbone Web site lets you personalize your Jawbone Icon with Audio and Dial Apps.
The MyTalk Jawbone Web site lets you personalize your Jawbone Icon with Audio and Dial Apps. Jawbone MyTalk website/Screenshot by Nicole Lee

Even if you don't care about all these personalization options, the Jawbone Icon is a great headset. It comes in six attractive designs named after the different voice profiles, plus it has an on/off switch on the back, plenty of earbud fit options, and excellent call quality. Indeed, its NoiseAssassin noise-cancellation technology got a boost this time around with above-average reduction of environmental noise. It even did well in windy conditions, with a performance on par with our other top headset, the Plantronics Discovery 975 .

We only had a couple of complaints about the Jawbone Icon. Despite the many earbud options, we still think the Icon could feel a bit more comfortable in the ear. Also, the Icon does not have a volume rocker, which means you have to use your phone to adjust its volume. This is because the headset has audio normalization, which automatically adjusts the volume to your preference after the initial setup. Even though the normalization works pretty well, we still like having manual volume control.

With all of these new features and eye-catching designs, you would expect the Jawbone Icon to be tprohibitively expensive. Bu it isn't. The Aliph Jawbone Icon is priced very competitively at only $99 retail. Its flexibility, affordability, and overall quality is why the Jawbone Icon has won our Editors' Choice so early in the year.

For even more details, read our full review of the Aliph Jawbone Icon.

 

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