One of the areas where convergence shows up in the world of headphones is cross-over from other markets. This is nothing new. Etymotic, who decades ago brought us the famously good and long-lived ER4 family of headphones, was first a hearing health company making audiometric equipment. Swiss hearing aid maker Phonak entered the U.S. market with its Audeo brand IEMs in the midst of the post-Dr Dre Beats frenzy five years ago. They, wisely I think, bowed out after a couple years in the tumult. Jabra is another such company coming into the world of headphones from different angle.
Jabra is a telephone headset company whose roots can be traced to Norcom Electronics Corporation, a Utah company working on wireless ear radios and microphones for telephone use way back in 1983. Their history is a bit convoluted but their products include the first mobile hands-free wired headset product that paired with the popular at the time Motorola StarTac cellphones. In 2000 they were acquired by Danish firm GN Group, who also has a strong hearing aid legacy in sister brand ReSound. Today Jabra’s focus is two-fold: corporate telecom headsets, speakerphones, and conference systems; and consumer headsets and speakers.
Over time Jabra has moved from little Bluetooth dongles that dangle from one ear to sports headsets and is now entering the wider headphone world with straight-up headphone headsets. Or is it that the headphone world is moving towards phone headsets? It’s hard to tell…welcome to convergence.
(On that note I’ll mention I just received a couple of wireless headphones from Plantronicsanother company that is primarily a telecom headset maker.)
Jabra Move ($99)
The Jabra Move is an on-ear, sealed, Bluetooth headphone. I wasn’t sure what to expect with these little cans…I certainly didn’t expect this tidy little offering for $99.
The Jabra move has a nice mix of materials: a Nylon mesh material covers the headband; headband adjustment arms are black anodized aluminum; ear capsules are matte black plastic; a seemingly nice grade of black pleather covers plain foam earpads. This headphone is also available in blue and red livery.
Comfort is quite good due to the Move’s light weight (150gr.) and modest caliper pressure. Fit is reasonable secure, but the gentle grip on your head allows them to wiggle around some with head movementso not a good headphone for physical activities. Even though the pads aren’t memory foam I find them surprisingly comfortable as they have a fairly large surface area to distribute the seal over a significant portion of my ear.
Adjustment arms are friction fit that is quite stiff when on the head; it takes a bit of fideting to get them adjusted, but holds quite well once set. Ear capsules rotate forward and back slightly on adjustment arm swivels. There are no other folding or movement mechanisms on the headphone to make them smaller for transport and storage.
It’s a trade-off I suppose, though there are better headphones if you’re going to throw them into a backpack pocket a lot, the simple, uncluttered look of this headphone is quite attractive. Given Jabra’s corporate telecom headset background it’s not surprising I see the Move as fitting nicely into the home/office environment. Relevant sidenote: It’s easy to pop the Moves off your head and drape them around you neck comfortably for a conversation with others. Not many headphones fit comfortably around my fat neck.
On the right ear capsule you’ll find power/Bluetooth on/off switch and USB Micro-B jack; the left side has a molded 3-button multi-function switch for volume, track, and phone control, and a 3.5mm TRS jack for wired use. Plugging in the analog cable will immediately turn off the electronics passively connecting the cable directly to the drivers. You can not use the Move as a phone headset in wired mode. You can, however, charge the headphone while using it in Bluetooth mode. It take two hours and will run for about eight hours per charge. Despite comments to the contrary on in some reviews, I found no problems with Bluetooth control functions…in fact I found it rather snappy.
Accessories are minimal, just the rather flimsy 4′ analog cable terminated in a straight 3.5mm TRS plug at the headphone and a 90 degree plug at the player end, and a USB charging cable. No carry sack is provided.
All-in-all, I really like the look and feel of this headphone; it works really well in the home and office environment. But its eight hour battery life and lack of folding features for transport may be inconvenient for folks needing a truly portable compact headphone. Its saving grace may be its comfort around the neck; commuters may be able to wear them to work and back in one position or the other without having to store them.
Alright, let’s have a listen…