Jawbone Era hands-on

The Jawbone line from Aliph have always been known for being compact, stylish and equipped with hardcore noise cancellation in the form of NoiseAssassin. The latest headset, the Jawbone Era, features NoiseAssassin 3.0, claiming eliminate more noise than any other headset. Expansys sent us through a Jawbone Era Midnight edition, for a quick hands-on.

We’re not normally taken by packaging on Pocket-lint, but we have to marvel at the compact and recyclable packaging that houses the Jawbone Era, especially as it is easy to get into and it elegantly houses a range of accessories. 

You not only get the Bluetooth headset, but you also get a wide choice of ear fitting options - there are a number of difference sizes of earbud, or the option of an ear hook to get the secure fit that you want. You can mix and match the fittings if you like, but they do attract debris - just look at our photos in the gallery. No, don't panic that isn't ear wax, it's just dust.

The compact headset measures 51.3 x 14.5 x 24.1mm and weighs just 10.2g. It looks like previous models, namely the Icon, but with distinctive perforated metal outer shell. This shell is laid on red backing, which shimmers through the surface when the light catches it, giving a great effect. 

One of the new features that the Jawbone Era offers is an accelerometer. This means you can now use tap and shake to control the headset: shake four times and it enters pairing mode (don’t worry, you need to be fairly vigorous with it), double tap and it answers an incoming call.

One of the nice things is that the Jawbone Era talks to you, rather than relying solely on beeps and flashes. So when it enters pairing mode it tells you, and then again when it either succeeds or fails to pair. It will also tell you how much talk time you have remaining at the press of a button.

But this being 2011, the Jawbone Era isn’t just a standalone device: you now get apps too, like you did on the Icon. Essentially this requires you to download a small Updater application which will then enable updating of the Era’s firmware and customisation through the Jawbone MyTalk website.

A variety of features are on offer, including a choice of voices. We opted for “the Bombshell”, naturally, which then changes the voices used by the Era appropriately.

Within the MyTalk website you can change some of the more detailed settings, turn off features, and change the way that the Era reacts to certain movements or button presses - for example, you can switch a in-call long button press to toggle NoiseAssassin rather than cycle through volume levels.

Through a rather tedious process you can also enter names and number of contacts into the website to enable caller ID settings. There are also a selection of DialApps, so if your phone supports voice dialling you can have the button activate voice dialling from the headset. 

We’ve been playing around with the Jawbone Era and we’ve been impressed by how easy it is to make these changes and of course we’ve been putting the noise cancellation to the test. 

Making a number of calls connected to a HTC 7 Pro handset, callers reported that we sounded clear, even when we cranked up the volume on the home stereo or stood on the side of a busy road. NoiseAssassin 3.0 does seem to bring a slight tininess to your voice, but it is so effective in reducing background noise that the person on the other end of the line can still hear exactly what you are saying.

All this tech doesn’t come cheap, but if noise cancellation and ease of use are on your list, then the £99 that Expansys are asking shouldn’t be too much for you.