PROS / The NoiseAssassin 3.0 scored 95 percent in our noise reduction tests.
CONS / The talk time is only four hours.
VERDICT / The Jawbone Era is one of the best Bluetooth headsets because it combines high-end call quality with a very secure fit and comprehensive hands-free features.
The Jawbone Era has been one of the most popular Bluetooth headsets for years. It has received several updates but it's mostly the same classic, high-quality Era with military-grade NoiseAssassin 3.0 to suppress background noises and a HD-quality audio driver. The call quality is among the clearest you can have over the phone. It comes with comprehensive voice commands that integrate with your smartphone's personal assistant, and it has a charging case. For these reasons, the Jawbone Era has earned the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for the best Bluetooth headset.
The Jawbone Era scored 95 percent in our voice quality tests, which means there are very few things that you won't hear clearly during a phone call. In the tests, we had a caller recite poetry while we wrote down what we heard. Only a few mistakes were made. This can be attributed to the large audio driver and the optimized position in your ear. The driver is so effective that it also makes for great listening when streaming music, as long as you don't mind listening with one ear.
The best feature of the Jawbone Era is the NoiseAssassin 3.0 noise suppression technology, which scored 95 percent in our noise reduction tests. Jawbone originally developed this technology for the military so that soldiers could effectively communicate despite the noisy atmosphere of helicopters, vehicles and gunfire. It uses voice activity sensors that rest against your jaw to measure vibrations in order to delineate your voice from background noises. It proved worthy of the NoiseAssassin moniker in our noise reduction tests, effectively suppressing almost all of the background noises.
The Era is one of the few headsets that automatically adjusts the volume of your call to compensate for background noises. However, even in the updated Era version, this feature can be unreliable. Everyone hears differently, and the auto-adjust has no way of knowing if the volume is right for your ears. So the volume can feel too loud or too soft at times. Unfortunately, the headset doesn't have a manual way of adjusting the volume, so you have to use your phone to set the default volume.
This is the only hands-free Bluetooth headset in our review that scored a perfect 100 percent in the stability tests without having an over-ear hook or behind-the-ear wearing style. The main reason it's so secure is the unique concha fin and the small size. The concha fin is made of a firm gel and form-fits in the concha of your ear better than other concha fins. And since it only weighs 0.2 ounces, it won't budge, even if you shake your head as hard as you can.
One difference between the updated Era and the old version is the number of earbuds it comes with. The old version came with eight earbuds of differing sizes – four right and four left. The updated Era comes with just four – three right and one left. The updated version also doesn't come with an over-ear hook.
One of the reasons this is among the best Bluetooth headsets is it includes mobile apps that help you get the most out of your headset. For example, the Jawbone MyTalk app allows you to compose text messages, emails and status updates with your voice. This app will also read your incoming text messages to you. Other mobile apps allow you to customize the interface's voice, provide schedule reminders through your earpiece, customize caller ID and more. The voice command button also gives you access to your smartphone's personal assistant, Siri or Google Now, which basically gives you full hands-free control over your phone.
The Jawbone Era comes with an accelerometer that allows you to answer a phone call with two shakes of the headset. To pair the headset with your phone requires four shakes. If you're already wearing the headset when you receive a phone call, you just have to tap the headset twice. A voice interface walks you through other functions.
The Era's battery life dipped to four hours with the update. The previous version had a talk time of 5.5 hours. However, the Era still only takes an hour to fully charge, and it comes with a charging case, which the older version lacked. The charging case adds six hours of talk time. It acts as both a carrying case and an extra battery for on-the-go charging. For comparison, the best talk time of any Bluetooth headset in our review is 10 hours, though some headsets have reached 21 hours with charging cases.
Help & Support
We found the support of the Jawbone Era to be exceptional. The support staff responded to every email we sent within a few hours, and they provided thorough answers to our questions. In addition, the support portion of the website makes it easy to find questions to concerns you might have with an extensive FAQs page and an online community of users. The only feature missing is live chat.
The Jawbone Era gives you and your caller one of the clearest conversations you can get with a Bluetooth headset. With HD-quality wideband audio and the military-grade NoiseAssassin 3.0, you can talk anywhere without fear of being misunderstood. It doesn't provide as many comfort options as the older version of the Era, but it's still one of the most comfortable and stable Bluetooth headset available. In addition, you can stream audio from your phone and dictate texts and emails with the Jawbone MyTalk app for a greater hands-free experience.