Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless review: This wireless headphone doesn't miss a beat (of your heart)

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The Good The Jabra Sport is a wireless Bluetooth headphone that offers a secure, comfortable fit, is water, shock, and dust resistant, and has built-in heart-rate monitor that works well.

The Bad Could sound better for a $200 headphone; battery life is only 4.5 hours.

The Bottom Line If you prize its built-in heart-rate monitor over top-notch sound quality, the Jabra Sport Pulse one of the better wireless sports headphones out there, particularly in terms of fit and features.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

I get a lot of emails about what I think the best wireless sports headphones are, and it's always a difficult question to answer. The Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless are the best-selling headphone in the category and offer decent fit and sound, but not everybody likes them for the price. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit is a better value and tends to get high marks from users (and me, too), but they aren't perfect either. And then there are a wealth of budget options that work OK, but they usually leave something to be desired, usually sound quality and durability.

Enter the Jabra Sport Pulse, a $200 stereo Bluetooth headphone that's not only sweat- and rain-resistant but also has an integrated heart-monitor sensor. It, too, has some small shortcomings, but it's one of the better in-ear wireless Bluetooth sports headsets currently available, especially if you're someone who uses a heart-rate monitor or is interested in using one. (The headphone is not officially available in the UK or Australia, but you can get it on Amazon UK for about £218.)

I like this Sport Pulse headphone better than Jabra's earlier Bluetooth model, the Rox, which now costs around $100. The biggest reason I like it better is that it fits my ears a lot better and I think there's a decent chance it will fit your ears well, too (by "well" I mean securely and comfortably). That said, with any in-ear headphone there's always a risk that you won't get a good fit and be disappointed.

It's worth noting that Sport Pulse was apparently designed in Denmark by a different group of engineers than the folks who designed the Rox (Jabra's parent company is GN Netcom), so the two headphones don't seem to have that much in common.

To help you achieve a better fit, Jabra includes various wings and silicon tips to customize the fit (I went with a medium wing and a larger eartip). The heart-rate sensor is designed to rest against the bottom of the inside rim of your ear opening. While the whole contraption looks a little big at first glance, it conforms to your ear better than you'd think, and the earpieces are lighter than the Rox's.

There's an in-line remote and microphone for making cell phone calls and the headphones come with a nice little carrying case. Also included is a small cord-management accessory (a few are included in case you lose one) that allows you to adjust the cord length of the headphone. Some people like a longer cord that rests more on the top of the shoulders while others want a shorter cord that sits on the back of the neck. The choice is yours.

An in-line remote/microphone allows you to turn the headphone on, take calls, and skip tracks, and raise and lower volume. Sarah Tew/CNET

This headphone offers NFC tap-to-pair technology, which is supported by many of the latest Android phones; it may someday be supported by iPhone 6/6 Plus and later iOS phones, too, if and when Apple decides to open up the NFC modules on those phones, which are currently devoted only to Apple Pay. I will say that pairing with an Android was a bit easier because when you first pair the Sport Pulse with an iOS device it's a two-step process (you to pair the heart-rate monitor, then the Bluetooth audio). I had a little trouble initially getting the headphone to pair with my iPhone 5S (it worked fine after the initial pairing). With my Samsung Galaxy S5, it was a one-step process.

The headphone's firmware is upgradeable (and so, too, is the app), and I updated to the latest firmware before I started this review without any trouble (you do have to connect the headphone to your computer via USB). In time, Jabra should add features to its Sport Life app.

Close-up of all the included stabilizers and eartips. Sarah Tew/CNET

Multiple apps for heart-rate monitor

To use the heart-rate monitor, you have to download the free Jabra Sport Life app, which is available for Android and iOS users, or another fitness app that supports heart-monitor connectivity via Bluetooth Smart (some people refer to this as Bluetooth LE or Bluetooth low-energy)

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