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What's your style for stereo--earbuds or earmuffs? I go for the earmuff or earpad approach every time, and Jabra's Halo headphones ($130, as of September16, 2009) fit well. They're sleek, unobtrusive, and sturdy. And the Halo felt even more comfortable than the Motorola MotoRokr S305 and the LG Electronics HBS-250, which also adopt the earmuff design.
The adjustable band that connects the two earpads goes over your head, instead of resting at the back of your neck, and this increases the comfort factor. I obtained a snug fit, and the pads felt soft and somewhat velvety against my ears. A tester who has a larger head achieved a good fit, too, but the pads didn't sit quite as flat, due to the contours of his face. The Halo stayed firmly in place on my ears even when I moved my head or body around.
The pads themselves are slim, lacking the bulk of other earpads, and the headphones fold up nicely. In fact, folding (or reopening) the two arms of the headband acts as the Halo's only power off/on mechanism, so you always know whether the unit is switched on or off.
The Halo delivered impressive music quality. My tunes sounded warm and rich, with deep, pleasing bass. The right-side earpad sports has just one button--for play/pause--and it's extremely easy to find. The volume and track-skipping controls on the side of the right-side pad were a bit of a pain, though. For volume, I had to try several times before I figured out how to press the pad with the right amount of delicacy. Though increasing or decreasing the volume doesn't take much pressure, you get virtually no tactile feedback when you press the pad; I would have liked more. Similarly, to jump forward or back by one track, you double-tap the volume up or volume down portion of the pad--again, with practically no tactile response form the device. This lack of feedback is the product's main drawback.
Another shortcoming: The Halo's call quality did not match its music quality. Overall, my voice sounded far away, faint, and sometimes muffled, though people did not have trouble understanding what I was saying. Call recipients complained about choppiness at times and some minor background noise (like chatter). Though a handful of calls were noticeably better, they averaged out to be acceptable for business and personal calls--but not for a lengthy client conference call, say. The main call button, which doubles as the play/pause button, lets you answer a call, end a call, redial--and that's it.
Of course, wearing headphones with earpads doesn't give you the same in-your-ear music experience that the seal from earbuds provides, so I found myself occasionally holding the pads down over my ears with the heels of my hands to bring my tracks closer.
If you're looking for nonearbud headphones to handle music and calls--but primarily music--the Halo package is a good choice. You'll just have to tolerate the nonfriendly volume and track-skipping controls.
For additional reviews of similar products, check out "Next-Generation Stereo Bluetooth Headsets." For more on selecting the right headset for you, see "How to Buy a Bluetooth Headset or Car Speakerphone."
The Halo lets you listen to your tunes without wires for hours at a time--with the odd phone call thrown in. But be prepared to grapple with clunky volume and track-skipping controls.
- Great-sounding music
- Comfortable headband and earmuff design
- Average phone call quality
- Volume and track-skipping controls poorly designed
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