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Jabra Halo review: Jabra Halo

Jabra's Halo is stylish to look at, but just too fiddly to use on a regular basis.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

Design

Lots of branded headsets do one thing very well, and that's sell the brand that makes them rather prominent on the side of your head. Jabra's Halo isn't of that breed, as the branding on this headband-style Bluetooth headset is small and inoffensive. The headband folds down on itself, and this serves a dual-purpose. Firstly, and most obviously, it serves to make the headset a lot more portable, especially as a small velcro lipped pouch is supplied with the Halo. Secondly, it's how you actually turn the Halo on. When it's clicked out in headband form, it switches on and attempts to pair with nearby compatible mobile phones and Bluetooth devices.

6.5

Jabra Halo

The Good

Stylish design. Folds down easily. Option for cabled use. AVRCP support.

The Bad

Uncomfortable fit. Twitchy touch controls.

The Bottom Line

Jabra's Halo is stylish to look at, but just too fiddly to use on a regular basis.

Inside the Halo's box is also a slim usage guide, a micro USB cable for charging and a micro USB to 3.5mm adapter for connecting the headset up to devices that lack Bluetooth compatibility. Quite why you'd buy an expensive Bluetooth headset for the purposes of not using Bluetooth eludes us slightly, but it's not as though the cable costs extra.

Features

As few buttons as possible seems to be the mantra of recent Bluetooth devices we've tested here at CNET.com.au, and the Halo isn't bucking the trend here. There's really only one button, used for call answering duties that sits alongside a touch-sensitive panel. This is used for volume control on all paired devices, as well as play/pause and track skipping duties, but only on Bluetooth devices that support the AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) standard. Some phones do, and some don't. iPhone users, be warned — you're in the latter category.

Performance

Charging and pairing up the Halo was, like many Bluetooth devices, a simple enough affair. The Halo can be paired with up to two Bluetooth devices, although it won't stream audio from both simultaneously. The click to open power function works smoothly and quite obviously. That's where the good news sort of ends for the Halo, however.

Firstly, there's the touch controls. They work, but like an awful lot of Bluetooth products that use touch controls on the side of your head, it's very hard to actually see what you're pressing. When the touch panel is as big as it is on the Halo, it's even harder. Many times we'd go to punch up the volume only to send it down, skip a track or start answering a call, and vice versa. The technology might be cool on paper, but the practical use of touch functions relies on simplicity, and the Halo just isn't simple enough to use intuitively.

Then there's the comfort factor. We tested the Halo with a number of different heads, and never found one where the headset rested entirely naturally on the skull. There was a strong tendency for the band to push the earpieces away from the head slightly, which makes the Halo feel loose. Fine for wearing, but any kind of movement beyond a very slow canter will make it wobble unacceptably.

Bluetooth Audio can be a twitchy little beast at the best of times, and the Halo suffered a little more than most in this regard during our tests. It's a pity given that the actual audio playback quality was generally quite good for both making and taking calls and listening to music tracks. Still, there's nothing that spoils ... the ... ambiance of a music track like an unplanned audio break.

The Halo has some neat concepts in its design, such as the use of the folding mechanism to both keep it compact and switch it on, but it fails badly in the usability stakes.