Monday, September 26, 2011

Jawbone Icon

Jawbone. I will not stop being a fan of them until they stop making quality products. Until then, I will proudly wear one while shouting their name from the rooftops and anyone talking to me on the phone while I'm doing that will only hear my voice, not background noise. The Icon is a cute little guy, but don't be fooled. Although he may be little, he's got an attitude and can pack a punch. Sure, maybe he gets made fun of by his big brother every now and then, but who doesn't? The fact is, he can hold his own when he wants to and he's packing something his bigger brother isn't: a bigger wardrobe and crazy style. Plus, he is willing to hang out in your ear for a smaller price.

All this being said, is he the one for you? Well, that depends on what you're looking for. Read the full review to find out what this guy is all about.
Important Specs:
  1. Noise Assassin 2.5
  2. Micro-USB charging port
  3. A2DP (allows you to listen to music through it)
  4. Up to 4.5 hours of talk time
  1. Excellent noise cancellation, 4.5 hours talk time, and amazing sound quality
  2. Multiple options for earpieces creating a perfect fit
  3. Ability to play music
  4. Battery icons displayed on iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones
  5. Software has ability to be upgraded/changed at
  6. The less-expensive Jawbone headset option ($100)
  1. Not "truly hands-free" like the Jawbone Era is
  2. Can sometimes have problems connecting to the iPhone 4

The Jawbone Icon is a sweet little headset. It was my first bluetooth headset since the Jawbone Prime (the original Jawbone) because it was a more affordable headset. At $100, it was a bargain (again, compared to its big brother, the Era) and I needed a bluetooth headset for my job so I bought it.

It wasn't quite that simple though. With the color and style options out there, it was hard for me to pick one that I would like. Do I go with something a little more daring like "Denim" or "Suede?" Or, do I go with something a little for reserved, like "Original" or "Hero?" As I debated my daring options to my safe options (and everything in between) I remembered that I would be using this in a professional environment and went for the original black with textured diamonds. The point I am getting at here is that you have TONS of options for colors and styles. Jawbone's idea is that bluetooth headsets should not only be functional, but formal as well, allowing you to express who you are when you wear one. They have done just this. With the collection of Icons available, it will be hard to make up your mind which one(s) you want. But you'll get there. I promise.

The back of the Icon, showing the on/off switch and the voice
activity sensor.
Besides coming in lots of color options and styles, the Icon also does very well while actually using it to talk. The Icon has very good noise cancellation with Noise Assassin software version 2.5. It cancels out wind also, though not high winds, but still better than any other brand of headset I've experienced. The Jawbone Era may have slightly better noise cancellation in with both background noise and wind, but it's a given because it costs more.

All calls made on the Icon are clear on both ends. The listener call recipient can hear everything that is said into the headset and while wearing the headset you can hear everything the other person is saying very clearly. While talking on the Icon, the other person can hear the conversation better than if you just use the phone. I often talk to my family and friends while driving in the car on my bluetooth headset. You can pretty much tell I'm in a car, but if I switch off the headset and use just the phone, there is a definite difference and the other person can immediately tell. Usually, they say something along the lines of, "What happened? You sound terrible all the sudden!" Because the noise cancellation on Icon, and any Jawbone headset for that matter, is so good, everything else sounds, "Horrible."

Wearing options for the Icon
As is standard with any Jawbone headset, they give you plenty of wearing options. There are six earbuds (three with loops on them to help it sit in your ear more comfortably) and one ear loop to keep it on your ear. Jawbone continues to be the only ones that provide that many wearing options because there are that many (and more) different types of ears. Also included in the box is a USB cord for updating your Jawbone at MyTalk and a wall charger. The USB cord is important because, just like the Era, you can change the voice on the Icon to any of the voices Jawbone has online. You can also enable or disable A2DP (the ability to play music through the headset) and add extra things like a battery meter for your blackberry or customize what the talk button does on your headset. This is also your link to getting updates from Jawbone. That's right updates. Software updates, none-the-less. This headset just keeps getting better after time.

Size comparison between the Icon (bottom) and the Era (top)
For me, it's hard to make a recommendation for the Icon to a specific group of people without talking a little bit about the features you miss out on if you don't get the more expensive and more feature-rich Jawbone Era so I'm going to have to include that stuff.

I would recommend the Jawbone Icon to anyone who wants to be able to use their bluetooth headset for more than just talking. If you're looking for a good middle-of-the-road bluetooth, the cheaper Plantronics M100 works great for talking. The downside is, it doesn't play music and doesn't receive updates to keep it the most up-to-date piece of equipment out there. It is a speaker and a microphone with noise cancellation and that is it. The Jawbone Icon, on the other hand, is more. It is a speaker and a microphone for phone calls, sound on your phone, computer, or other bluetooth enabled devices, it cancels noise amazingly well, it's comfortable to wear for long periods of time, it gets updates, and it's fun to play around with the customization features. It is not what I call "truly hands-free" however because although it does announce the phone number that's calling when you are receiving a call, it does not say the name of the person like the Jawbone Era can. This means that unless you have all your phone numbers memorized (I certainly don't) than you are going to need to take your phone out of your pocket, holster, clip, fanny pack or whatever else you use to hold it in order to see who's calling or just answer without knowing who it is you're answering a call from (maybe it's Aunt Mabel who's going to talk your ear off for a couple hours!). Working professionals would do well with this headset as would anyone who is looking for a little more out of their bluetooth than just a speaker and a microphone. If you can afford it though, go with the Era.
Bottom of the Icon, showing the Micro USB port


  1. I just got my hands on the Jawbone Prime actually (my first dabble into bluetooth headsets!). There aren't too many places that sell them in the UK anymore so I went through these guys. I have to say it’s a pretty nice piece of kit. The design is pretty classy and I love the noise cancellation.

    I might upgrade to the Icon at some point though, as my daughter has her eye on this one lol... I’m wondering if it really is a step up from the Prime or if I should just stick to what I know...

    1. The Prime was the first Bluetooth I could stand using because it was the only one that cancelled background noise decently well. I love the Icon because of it's attractive price and it's much-improved noise cancellation. I believe it would be worth the upgrade.

      I'd also consider the Jawbone Era. It's noticeably better than both the Prime and the Icon and it's got a few extra features like being able to program in names to match contacts so it reads the contact's name in your ear instead of just the number. Check out my full review of the Era for my complete thoughts on it.

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