Review: Jawbone ICON Bluetooth Headset

By John Yester on 17 May 2010 12:53 pm EDT
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Jawbone ICON

Jawbone Bluetooth headsets have always been known for their NoiseAssassin feature and great device quality. But they now took it a step further. A few weeks ago they released an update for the Jawbone ICON gives it the ability to stream music and other audio files. It now has A2DP which lets users get any audio regardless of the type, such as from navigation apps or Internet radio stations thru the headset. Users can update the firmware from Aliph Jawbones Mytalk page for free. Jawbone users can also change the voice that conveys important info(Caller ID, battery life).

Some key points of the Jawbone ICON and A2DP:

  • NoiseAssassin┬« version 2.5 with wind reduction
  • 6 unique designs in new contemporary design to choose from
  • Up to 4.5 hours talk time
  • Up to 10 days standby time
  • Supports Multipoint for two audio gateways including PC
  • MicroUSB standard connector interface
  • Turn by turn directions and additional apps to choose using A2DP
  • Music streaming

Initial impressions:

There are a lot of Bluetooth headsets on the market now days. Consumers are always looking for new and innovative ways of communicating without having to hold their phone to their head. But it's sometimes tough to choose just by looking at a default picture online. Most users ask, "How does it feel" or "How loud is the speaker". Some of these are key questions any consumers will more likely ask but still unsure when choosing from 25+ brands on the market these days.

Jawbone ICON

Bluetooth headsets have recently over came leaps and bounds. I mean think about it - a few years ago most were bulky and didn't feel right in the ear. As technology improves, so do design and features. With Jawbone's newest addition to the lineup, the Jawbone ICON has a small personality but packs quite a punch with features. These devices are built to be used on tanks and helicopters (and no I am not joking) - That's got to be one tough accessory to put on your ear, doesn't it?

Set up:

Opening the box you will find the Jawbone ICON and an assortment of ear bud inserts, as well as the "Ear loop" option as well. Find one that might be your ear size and slide it on the ear piece, having the little loop pointed towards charging port of the headset. For the most secure fit Jawbone suggests that you place the Jawbone in your ear pointing down, then twist upwards so it point directly to your mouth. For best performance make sure the Voice Activity Sensor physically touches your cheek.

Jawbone ICON

Pairing the device could not have been any easier. Seems there are two ways of doing it... I just turned the Jawbone on and it said waiting to be connected. So I searched for it from my Bluetooth setup options on my BlackBerry 9630. Once the device was found I confirmed the option to connect to it. No prompt for pass code. Within 1-2 seconds the bleep bloop sound from the headset confirmed the pairing. I like simple - no looking online or manuals looking for key codes or additional setup options.

Charging the device is fairly simple. Once plugged in, the Jawbone LED will illuminate red until charged. Once it reaches a steady white LED you can unplug the device. One great feature I love is that my BlackBerry uses Micro USB and any future devices will as well. But the Jawbone charged using a Micro USB port which makes things even simpler. Whether in the car, at the office I can use my spare BlackBerry charger to top of my headset. Though the Jawbone comes with a mini wall charger and mini USB to use on a PC, I like having these additional charging options.

Jawbone ICON

Daily Use:

Once you do a full complete charge you're setup for 10 days of standby time or 4 hours of calls. So if you're a morning person and making calls nonstop, it will get you to about lunch time or so. I did find once I had it in my ear for about an hour I forgot it was there. Scary, but good also! I couldn't feel it at all, my body became used to the feel until a call came in and I started hearing this lady speak to me. But I must say I did change the ear gel once to get the best custom fit possible. Well looks like I found it now. I did try the ear loop add on but found it didn't add much besides an additional sense of security to the Jawbone.

The ICON features on a dedicated on/off switch. Once turned on the device will speak to you. "I'm on and ready to go" The Call/status notify/volume is all one button on the back of the device. One button for everything is great while being "Hand free" and not searching for the right button like most headset have.

The ICON also features Simultaneous Multipoint; this means that your Jawbone ICON can manage two calls from two different phones at the same time. Once paired with both devices you are using the ICON will immediately notify you for any call coming from either device. When listening to some tunes or listening to turn by turn directions I was a bit disappointed at first until I found that the upgrade to A2DP changes the way the volume is handled in the headset. In calls the device is the master for volume control. If you max the volume on the device it will max it out on the headset as well. But with music or other apps you have to hold the talk button down, while doing this you will hear beeps get louder and louder, then lower and lower. Once you find a good setting you will be all set. Once I first set it up I was jamming to music and It was loud but not loud enough, then switched over to CD Podcast app to listen to my guys talk it up and still the audio was low. I could figure out if it was the BlackBerry or the App's until I went to the support page on Jawbones site and found it was noted to users who update the firmware. So it was a bit frustrating at first but once I got it all setup I can now jam to my tunes!

So with all these phone calls, music, and voice app's running you have to check the battery sometime. The ICON features a battery check option. Push the talk button very quick and let go. You will hear a voice telling you the remaining talk hours. This is new to me and is an awesome feature! When making calls you can either redial form the ICON by hitting the call button twice or launch voice dialing by holding in the talk button for about a full second.

Firmware Upgrades

As mentioned above with Jawbones ICON software upgrade to now use A2DP you can also customize some additional features. Registering the device and account -Free on Jawbones website you have to download the firmware/sync software to you pc. Once installed on the Mytalk page you just pick and choose what you wish to remove or add. Once you make all your selections hit the sync button and the software does the rest.

With AudioAppsfrom MyTALK, you can change the voice that conveys important information like battery life and Caller ID. There are 6 AudioApps, each with a unique voice and personality. Choose from The HERO, The BOMBSHELL, The CATCH, The ROGUE, The THINKER, or The ACE. If you prefer a different language, MyTALK also offers 3 localized versions: Spanish, French, and German.

MyTALK DialApps let you customize an easy access button that links your Jawbone ICON directly to 411, voice-to-SMS and voice dial services. Some apps even let you use voice to listen and post to Facebook/Twitter. Once you select and sync a DialApp, all you have to do is press your Jawbone ICON's TALK Button for 2 seconds to activate.

After syncing is complete you can unplug the device and pair it to your BlackBerry. * Firmware update removes pre existing pairing.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Size and weight
  • Battery standby time
  • Voice assassin upgraded from previous models
  • Micro USB charging
  • Styles for all users
  • A2DP Upgrade and add on Apps

Cons:

  • Carry case would be good to have
  • Ear adapters take some time to finding the best fit... May still not be true form fitting
  • Talk time, not made for full day of HEAVY usage. But most will get by.
  • Unable to adjust volume higher then max setting on BlackBerry(Volume still low) when listening to music, Pod casts, etc... * Update* read on Jawbone Support when playing music, etc user must hold talk button down to increase volume then let go to have set volume stay. Note: Don't just press talk button as it will launch voice dial.

All in all Jawbone has always been held to its own class being considered almost certified Military Spec. device. But I have always been tied down with cords. This is like a new best friend for my BlackBerry. It does everything a first timer using Bluetooth hands free would expect to get and even more. The comfort and ease of use makes this ICON a true paired partner for a BlackBerry device. While there were some drawbacks but only minor I would have to give this a personal rating of 4.5 stars overall.

Reader comments

Review: Jawbone ICON Bluetooth Headset

34 Comments

I actually have this bluetooth headset. I must say that I love it. The features on it are great, sound quality is amazing, and I don't know how I ever went without. It makes talking on the phone easier and streaming pandora in the tanning bed is pretty cool.

I have had this about a month now and I love it. Works great souud quality ia excellent the abiltiy to stream music or podcast is the icing on the cake.

Does anyone know if you can use this for your PC as well, stream music from a bluetooth enabled laptop to the jawbone and be connected to your phone at the same time?

I paired it with my laptop last week to use with Skype, and it worked fine for that. I didn't try to stream music with it, but I think that more depends on what type of Bluetooth card you have in your computer. I think the card has to be A2DP compatible.

Did anyone copy edit this post? I'm no grammar stickler, but this is borderline unreadable. Aside from the tenses changing continually, there are several errors like "could" instead of "couldn't".

The whole thing reminds me of reading something that was translated in and out of English a few times. I would recommend pulling this post, editing it, and reposting.

In general, a thorough review, but needs work!

After my wife decided that my Plantronics Voyager needed a drink of wine, I picked this headset up.

Absolutely love it. I didn't know there was a firmware update though, have to check that out.

I never could find a good fit on the included ear buds. So I purchased some of the old Jabra ear gells from Amazon, and I like the fit much better now.

http://tinyurl.com/3889t3c

But didnt you guys do a reivew of this...and the headset is rather old now. I even have updates since it dropped. I do love it also.

There was a post a while back once it got released but not full on review and also A2DP was not mentioned when the ICON was first released because A2DP was not out yet for it..

I'm not sure..but I figure it must go into standby mode because I've had it turned on for a day or two but not connected and when I connect mine to my Tour it says about an hour or two left on it's charge.

I love my icon.. I've got the Rogue. I guess I need to update it!

I've had "The Ace" for a few months now and you're bang on. The only thing that bugs me is the in-ear bud. It doesn't hold great in high vibration situations, and I can't seem to find one that fits my ear. Other than that this is an amazing headset.

Tried to update it but having all kinds of issues..seems like the update is just completely shutting down my USB ports..meaning my wireless keyboard / mouse and my Icon stop working and act like they are unplugged. IDK what's going on but posted the issue on the MyTalk forum..hopefully will be able to get a fix.

Had the Jawbone2 and loved it but was never a perfect fit. Still used it for about a year if not a little more.

Tried this one and it was great aside from, again, none of the included ear buds fitting in my ear well. Couldn't find one that stayed in, they all just slide out over a few minutes or they wouldn't fit in my ear at all. Couldn;t deal with that even thought he sound qlty was great.

Next I tried the Blue Ant (below Plantroics comparison)

Went with the Plantronics Discovery 975. Looks a little space aged and the sound quality isn't quite as good on in coming sound. Out going though I would say it is better on the Plantronics. Also I have never had a headset of any kind that fits as well, as comfortably and reliably as the Plantroics. Pop it in my ear and I can literally shake my head back and forth and it barely even budges. No ear loop either. For me defintiley worth the extra $ for the perfect fit. Another plus to this one is it comes with a little charging case and uses micro USB to charge the case and headset so if you need a charger you can probably find one almost anywhere.

(out of order of ownership but wanted to save the best for last)

I had also tried the Blue Ant V1. My girlfriend is now using it and loves it. This one was hands down the best quality one of the 3 as far as sound goes. Incoming and outgoing where better than anything else I have used. Unfortuanely this one also did not fit well in my ear at all. Tried all their earbuds as well as a few other company's earbuds that happen to fit but with no luck. IFor me the fit was worse than the Icon actually. Still if the Blue Ant fits, definitely go with it over the Icon or Plantronics. Not olny is it in my opinion the best quality as far as sound and noise cancelation it is the best looking and cheapest of them all.
Built in voice commands can get a littel tedious though. They can be turned off.

Note: all three are able to relay Navigation and voice dialing from the phone to the ear peice. Says the Icon can relay music. I don't beleive the Blue Ant or Plantronics can do that yet.

As it is mentioned it is not easy picking one out from an online picture so I hope this helps anyone out there not looking to spend a C note or more on BT that they are unsure they will be happy with.

I lost my Samsung BT headset and needed a replacement. So I bought the ICON and it's a nice unit. I agree with others that it takes a bit to find an ear piece that works, but the sound quality it quite good. I went with 'the bombshell' voice - sexy babe talking in your ear. Nice.

I got it from an on-line warehouse at a cheaper than the $99 price here listed here. That seemed to be a mistake since they gave me everything that was needed except the USB cable to use the Mytalk features. Jawbone's support group were nice enough to send it to me after I let them know. Otherwise, I'm really happy with the product. So do not buy the Icon unless it's from a company that's reputable like Jawbone or Crackberry.

i was bought this one and then ended up going back to my plantronics pro headset.
the noise assisin is great but i find the plantronics to be better and the battery life on the pro is insane.
with that said i gave up on style though.
i loved the style of the headset but the functionality is more important to me.

I have this one. I need to do a firmware update. Wish you guys would have posted a link for those of us needing the update (yes, laziness).

I find the earbud to be a little hard to fit - even with the ear adapters, it's hard to get a good fit. I use the loop for added security.

I'd give it 4 of 5 stars.

I've been listening to audio on my old first generation Jawbone as long as I've had it. I don't know if it's supposed to do it, but I found out by accident that if you play Pandora first, it and any other Bluetooth-enabled application (Audible, iHeartRadio, etc.) play on the Jawbone just fine. It's almost like Pandora opens up some protocol or something and leaves it open for anything else to use. If you don't run Pandora first, the others don't work on the Jawbone.

I've had several types/brands also. For me the sound quality was always my first consideration, then fit. With the ICON, my only complaint was the ear-fitting adapters - I never could get a satisfactory solution. I even got a small blister with one of them - I think the rubber is too hard. Then when I rotated it up the adapter slipped and the fit was gone.

The ear loop was necessary for me ; always a bit of a fiddle..but then I lost it....$10 for a set of 4 on eBay...

I just fitted an ear-gel from an old Jabra set and presto - problem solved - Thank You kirnkorner2001 !!

I've used the Jawbone for a few months now and coming from a Jabra, it was a slight change. On the Jabra, my side of the call was excellent, but the other side had noise. With the Jawbone, the other side of the call gives no complaints now but my side of the call has gone down. I haven't done the firmware upgrade yet, so my expectation is that this will improve. Would I recommend this device? I certainly would if your use is centered around voice (I do lots and lots of conference calls). The talk time is about 4 hours, which is reasonable for such a small device, but the good thing about the Icon is that it recharges so fast that I have the ability to use it all day almost on constant calls. I have had days where I was on over 8 hours of calls and a quick 15 minute charge between calls kept me going. The other nice thing about the Icon is that it will let you know when you're about 15 minutes away from running out of power. Great device.

Really? A review on the new Jawbone, perhaps the best noise canceling headset on the market, without an entire paragraph about how well the noise cancellation works in real world situations? No mention of how it works in the wind? Really!?!

I'm a fan of the site, but c'mon!

I have to agree with ffejie - with so many sources of info on the web, I tend to weed out sites based on grammar. If the first article I read on a site is poorly proofed, I don't go back. I trust the content and credibility of CrackBerry, but first impressions are important. Proper grammar is classy. Good article though.

If you have a hard time finding a comfortable fit, order the Jabra ear gels and put them on the Icon. Before putting the Jabra ear gel on, put the small rubber ear pad on that comes with the Icon.

Have read, and read some more, and used some of:

Plantronics Voyager 520 & 935;
BlueAnt Q2;
Jawbone ICON;
Motorola HX1 Endeavor & H780

My #1 priority is audio quality; I have to be able to hear and be heard clearly, sometimes in a noisy environment...but the noise cancellation has to be adaptable enough that the sound quality is fine in a quiet office too, rather than over compensate & sound muffled or digitalized.

I've heard complaints on all above models, mostly from just a small number of users regarding sound quality. Any opinions here?