Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset review

4.5 out of 5
£80

For

Small, well designed, good features, sounds great

Against

My Talk apps mostly only available in America

While phones are currently getting bigger, Aliph, the maker of the Jawbone line of Bluetooth headsets, is currently doing all it can to make its Bluetooth headsets even smaller. But does it still carry the same offering and power as the previous model? We stuck it in our ear and got calling.

Yes it's small, very small in fact, which is good, because it's also very light as well. The design plays on the previous Jawbone models and in an attempt to suit the design and style of virtually everyone there are a number of different finishes. We've been sent The Thinker, on which the outside face is quilted or looks like one of those Barbour jackets that posh people wear.

It's as inoffensive as it is stylish and if you don't like the quilted look there are five other designs - including a gold one - to suit you instead.

With zero buttons on the front, you'll find yourself controlling it through the tip and the inside edge. To ease confusion as to whether the headset is even on or not, Jawbone has implemented a simple switch - old school style. It might sound like an obvious idea, but you'll be surprised at how many don't. How many headsets leave you baffled as to whether the device is on or not? No such problem here.

Other indicators that it's working is a small circular LED light that glows to let you know the status, whether you need to find a charger, or whether you are ready to hit the road; not that it matters, as a press of a button will tell you the battery status anyway, but more of that in a minute.

The final button is the talk button, conveniently positioned on top of the Bluetooth headset and therefore easy to press. Doing so pushes the device into your ear - not enough to hurt - and allows you to use your head as resistance. It might sound painful or difficult but it's not. We've seen headsets where pressing them will result in pulling the headset out and that's just annoying. Once again it is simple but it works.

If you thought those elements were well designed, you'll love the ear clip that comes in multiple sizes to suit different ears, and a charging socket so small that you won't even know it's there until you look in the manual. It's miniature and designed well.

But design is only half the story, it's no good having something that looks amazing but sounds like you're in a crisp packet. Luckily for Aliph, the makers of the headset, that's not the case with the Jawbone, sounding good in quiet environments, but even better in louder ones like a bar or a club.

But before we get to that, there is one other feature that we've found not only fascinating, but also very useful: the Jawbone Icon talks to you. No we weren't hearing things, and no we aren't talking about the person at the other end of the phone, but the headset itself. What does it say? Well it tells you when it needs recharging, or reads out the number of the person calling so if you recognise the number you can either take it (a one button press) or avoid it.

Better still you can change the voice by logging into the accompanying MyTalk website where you can decide to have a foxy lady talk to you or a Frenchman who's pretending to be an Agent. It's an interesting idea and one that opens up possibilities for further voices and apps in the future. Yes your headset, like your phone, just got apps.

Back to performance and the Jawbone works well. Nobody complained that we sounded awful and in test calls everyone could hear us clearly, mainly thanks to the built-in "Noise Assassin" technology that does its best to eradicate all background noise. So much so that we could still turn the TV up louder than we were comfortable with and have a perfectly good conversation; with us being able to hear the person on the other end and them being able to hear us. The Jawbone Icon works and works well.

Other features worth mentioning are Bluetooth A2DP support for music and a battery meter for iPhone users that will show up against your iPhone's battery meter when connected. As for the charge - the Icon lasted about 3 hours, which is long enough, and you can charge it via your laptop with the included USB cable or via the wall charger in the box. Add in multiple device support and wind reduction technology and you're on to a winner.

Verdict

The Jawbone ticks so many boxes that it's hard not to recommend. It looks good, sounds great and more importantly other people could hear us too, regardless of the environment.

Okay - so the MyTalk element is probably something you'll play with for about 5 seconds (we chose the Bombshell's voice) but it's a nice idea that has potential to grow and develop further.

If you need a new Bluetooth headset, Jawbone has proved that it has outdone itself once again.