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

The earbuds adhere magnetically to each other.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you are able to get a tight seal using one of the included tips -- and the majority of people should -- this is a decent-sounding Bluetooth headphone. It lacks a little bit of clarity but I found the bass ample and it's pretty smooth-sounding. I have seen some critical comments about the bass, but I suspect that's because the users didn't really get a tight seal. With noise-isolating in-ear headphones like this one, you lose a lot of bass -- and sound quality -- if you don't get a secure fit.

Ultimately, I think this is a likable neckband-style headset that's geared to same audience which has been gobbling up LG's Tone headphones to use as headsets (I do like LG's retractable-earbud feature found on some of its Tone models).

But I think Jabra missed out on an opportunity to make the Halo Smart a little more versatile. Yes, it's water-resistant, which means you can run with it, but chances are the tips will fall out as you run and sweat. A wing-style tip would easily turn it into a sports headphone. Bose, Monster, Plantronics, ​Jaybird and even Samsung include these types of tips with some of their in-ear models. Jabra also does -- but only with its Sport Coach and Sport Pulse Wireless.

Some small changes and more included tips (particularly an XL tip) would bump this into excellent territory (it's close). While it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from a design standpoint, it seems sturdily built, performs very well as a headset and offers decent sound quality for music if you get that tight seal.

Here are the Halo Smart's highlights, according to Jabra.

  • Jabra Halo Smart Silver Edition is available exclusively at Best Buy stores and online at www.bestbuy.com in late June with an MSRP of $80 (around AU$110 or £55, converted).
  • Jabra Halo Smart is also available in black on their website.
  • Fits the 79 percent of users who want one set of headphones for both calls and music, but find the call experience on most music devices inadequate.
  • Built for calls, Jabra Halo Smart uses high-quality microphones with integrated wind-noise protection for enhanced in-call quality, and subtle vibration alert to ensure calls are never missed.
  • Excellent sound quality thanks to 10mm speakers and Jabra's audio capabilities.
  • Neckband wearing style for comfortable, all-day use and seamless switching between calls, music and media.
  • Extended battery life provides up to 17 hours talk time and up to 15 hours of music listening.
  • Dedicated Google Now or Siri button gives you access to voice controls.

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