Before the Jambox and Up fitness band, Jawbone was best known for its Bluetooth headsets. Now, two years after its last headset upgrade, Jawbone is once again reminding us of its roots.
With the new Era headset, Jawbone is aiming to make Bluetooth headsets more than just something used by business professionals for voice calls — it wants to make them the centerpiece of controlling your smartphone. The Era is just as useful for shouting Siri commands while your phone is in your pocket as it is for prolonged conversations.
The new Era is 42 percent smaller than its predecessor, includes a new version of Jawbone’s “Noise Assassin” noise cancelling technology, and comes with a small charging case to let you easily recharge on the go.
If you’ve seen Spike Jonze’s magnificent new film Her, you can get an idea of what Jawbone is aiming at. In that movie, tiny wireless headsets served as the main input interface for smartphones and desktops alike. We’re not quite there yet, but with the Era, Jawbone is positioning itself as the company to make that vision of the future a reality.
Now that it’s smaller and more unobtrusive, Jawbone also makes the Era more enticing for people who want a Bluetooth headset but don’t want to be seen as a Bluetooth-using jerk (a stereotypical image promoted by movies and many power users).
“We knew that if we wanted to re-energize this space, this design had to be something that would get people to wear it,” said Tim Pryde, senior director of audio products at Jawbone, in an interview with VentureBeat.
Jawbone says the Era will actually help people get more out of virtual assistants like Siri and Google Now. Typically, you’d have to pull out your phone and hope it understands what you’re trying to say. The Era, with its advanced noise cancelling technology, allows you to make much clearer voice commands. It’s also smart enough to increase its noise cancelling if you’re entering a noisy area.
While the Era still gets around 4 to 5 hours of battery life on its own, the included charging case lets Jawbone claim that it gets close to 10 hours of battery life (sneaky, I know).
After using the Era for a day, I was most impressed by how seamless it felt. It’s so light that it was easy for me to forget I was wearing a headset, and I grew to enjoy having voice commands available to me without yanking out my smartphone. I’ve used a variety of Bluetooth headsets in the past, but they’ve typically been too bulky to wear for long, or they made me feel self-aware as a Bluetooth headset user.
The headset will retail for $130 with its new charging case at Jawbone’s website and Verizon stores today. The Era headset alone is just $99 (you can always recharge it with another USB battery pack).