Review: Is Jabra's Sport A Worthy Exercise Companion?
By Tony Ibrahim | Monday | 10/10/2011
Jabra's new Sport bluetooth claims it can handle rain, dust and shock, while managing clear phone calls and music playback. We take it for an extreme rock hike to see if its Sporty enough.
Departing from conventionally styled earphones, it looks like a tangled mess of stale wires. But once you slip it on over the first ear, and prep the earphone inside of your lobe, it nestles comfortably, even when at pace.
Thanks to the design, the Sport isn't foiled by intense exercise, staying in place and doing what any good exercise headset should do: be invisible.
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Recognising this headset is rain, dust and shock resistant, the Sport needed to be tested by the environment. There's an 8km stretch of ocean-forged rocks by Forrester's beach in the central cost. Water sprays down from nearby crashing waves, and headsets constantly jolt up and down as the rock-track rapidly climbs and descends.
The trek is always interrupted by my headphones popping out one stage or another, but the Sport didn't disappoint in this area. It was incredibly comfortable, light and produced an uninterrupted atmosphere that really motivated me to get on with the workout.
When you first unpack the sports, there's a yellow tag that instructs you to wear your music device (in this case, mobile) on your arm using the included armband. Like most things health and safety, it was quickly dismissed, opting to use my pocket instead.
But it turns out Jabra are concerned about Bluetooth performance, with audio intermittently dropping out every now and then if the Bluetooth device isn't close enough to the headset, and that's disappointing. The purpose of a Bluetooth headset is to evade restricting wires. There's little point in evading wires if you're bound by an arm band.
The Sport finds some redemption in the ergonomic design of its controls, which are found on the right earpiece. The four controls aid in navigating music, managing phone calls and interact with the Endomondo Sports Tracker application.
When holding down one of the buttons their roles change, with the volume buttons changing tracks, and play/pause being used to enter pairing mode. Even at pace they're accessible and easily identifiable, again helping people focus on exercising instead of fumbling as they try to change tracks.
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|The Sport was game enough to play in tough conditions|
Volume and tonality was impressive at times, but could benefit from more body. For a sports headset it was surprisingly versatile, accommodating different genres with little hassle. Producing crisp sound at full volume, the headset would never distort or muffle. But its obvious volume was sacrificed in the pursuit of clarity, requiring it to be on max to suit the level of sound we were after.
During phone calls the microphone shined. Running besides turbulent waters and oncoming wind, it aced phone calls by sifting vocals from the myriad of background interference. It is capable of delivering top quality phone conversations while the elements confront on a challenging routine.
Pairing the Sport is very easy. By holding down the play/pause button for ten or so seconds, the headset will enter pairing mode. In pairing mode it dictates instructions on how to synchronise your mobile phone (or mp3 device) with it. It takes no more than a minute and only needs to be done once per device.
The Sport will easily replay 3 hours worth of your favourite tunes and Jabra claim it's capable of 4.5 hours talk time. The battery life was great and would benefit anyone who exercises less than that.
Particularly useful were the nifty voice readouts, which subtly interrupt the music to let you know 'the battery is running low.' This is the kind of headset that does run alongside you.
Absolutely stunning design, intelligent call handling and performance are crippled by having to wear your device on your arm. This could've been a must have workout companion. Instead, it's just another 'it'll do' device.
Apr/May 2011 issue
reviews the hot new iPhone attach device, the Zeppelin Air. And we look at what's going on in the tablet space...