Jabra Halo Smart review: Jabra's first neckband-style Bluetooth headphone is almost excellent

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The Good The Jabra Halo Smart is a sturdily built neck-band style headphone that performs very well as a headset for making cell phone calls, offers good battery life, and decent sound for music if you get a tight seal. Neckband vibrates when a call comes in.

The Bad You may not get a secure, tight seal from any of the included ear tips, which leads to a poor fit and a reduction in sound quality.

The Bottom Line While it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from other neckband-style headphones from a design standpoint, the Jabra Halo Smart seems sturdily built, performs very well as a headset for making calls and offers decent sound quality for music if you get a tight seal.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

Welcome another neckband-style headphone to the world: the Jabra Halo Smart, which retails for $80 (sorry, UK and Australian readers, no word on international pricing yet).

What's special about it? Well, since it's from Jabra, you'd hope it would work really well as a headset for making calls. And it does, with multiple microphones and noise reduction technology that helps tamp down ambient noise like wind. It's also water-resistant and has very good battery life, with up to 17 hours of talk time and 15 hours of music listening.

What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It also has a few notable extra features. The ear buds adhere magnetically to each other, which keeps them from flopping around when they're not in your ears. You end up wearing them sort of like a pendant or you can affix the buds to a spot on the neckband to eliminate any dangling altogether (the manual shows you exactly where on the neckband the tips can be pinned magnetically).

When a call comes in, there's a vibrate feature in the neckband, and you can answer the call by pulling the ear buds apart. You then stick one or both buds in your ears.

The free Jabra Assist app for iOS and Android works with the Halo Smart. It doesn't do all that much, but you can enable a message readout feature that allows you to hear incoming notifications. These include calendar events and incoming emails (just the subject name and subject). There's also a "Find my Jabra" feature that allows you to locate your headset should you lose it.

Three sizes of ear tips are included, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn't get a tight seal and secure fit with any of them. I had to pull off a set of extra large tips from another in-ear headphone I was testing. Those bigger tips made a big difference.

The tip issue was really my only major gripe. Otherwise, the headphone performed well, and I encountered only a minimal amount of Bluetooth hiccups.