Hello Allison, this is Charles Gousha from the Silicon Valley Mac User Group. I heard your recent review on episode number 485 of the Jabra Sport+ Bluetooth earbuds and since I recently bought my second pair of them I thought I’d give you my own findings.
I went looking for a pair with a few specific desires. I want to listen to podcasts and audiobooks, with very little music use, so sound quality doesn’t have to be high. I want something where I can hear the outside world rather than isolating it out, so in-ear buds really won’t work well. And finally, I want something that I can keep on my ears for most of the day. The Jabra Sport+ fits the bill on all counts.
Sounds quality is reasonable. It’s not great, mainly because the buds sit close to your ears, but don’t actually sit in-ear. Even so, I find the bass projection on the Jabras to be far better than the Jaybird BluBuds — pretty much a match for your own findings. Phone calls are very good, and the microphone is clear enough that you can be understood while talking on it … but not clear enough that Siri will understand what you’re saying very well.
Connectivity seems fair to me. If I keep my iPhone in my pocket — especially my left pocket — then I tend to get a lot of audio dropouts. But this makes sense since the Bluetooth signal is trying to bounce off of nearby objects, or go through my body to get between the earbuds and the phone. If I keep the iPhone in a belt clip on my right side though, then the signal seems to do fine. In comparison, if I put the phone on a desk I can walk around in the room, or even the next room with a perfect signal. Moving around in an area with a lot of Bluetooth signals, however, can make the audio glitch. It’s fine if I’m outdoors or if I’m sitting at my desk inside, but if I go outside while listening to my phone — from the inside to the outside or vice-versa — then I usually lose the signal for a few seconds, even though the phone is with me the whole time. For most people with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard linked to their Mac this won’t be a problem, but folks using Bluetooth speakers around the house may run into some glitches. I’ve also noticed that if left idle for a few hours, the buds seem to get out of sync with the phone and will automatically disconnect and reconnect before they’ll play again. No extra effort needed on my part, but it’s an annoyance.
Oh, and do make sure you apply the firmware update that Jabra has available on their website.
One of the greatest features of these earbuds is the fact that you can link to two different devices at the same time. As far as I can tell the Jabra is the only stereo earbud that offers this feature. I can keep a link to my iPhone and my MacBook Pro, and listen to them interchangeably. The one drawback I found with this is that if both devices are making a sound, the latest device to make a sound takes priority. So if I’m listening to a podcast from the Mac and my phone beeps with a text message, then the podcast goes away — I hear the beep from the phone, and then the podcast returns. I’ve lost about 10 seconds worth of audio and I have to rewind the podcast to get those 10 seconds back. A flurry of text messages and my listening experience comes to a complete halt.
Battery life holds up well. I can keep playback going for 3-4 hours on a single charge, and if I’m not listening that much, the earbuds will last the whole day. Recharging takes about an hour with a standard micro-USB cord. As for long term reliability I put over a year of constant use on my original set of earbuds with no troubles at all before I forgot them in a seat pocket on an airplane flight. Oops!
An unexpected bonus is that the Jabras seem to be virtually invisible when I’m wearing them. Nobody seems to notice when I have them on, until I reach for the pause button so I can hear what they’re saying. Compare that with your typical Apple earbuds, which are so amazingly white that it’s hard to miss them when you’re wearing them.
So … there are certainly other earbuds and headphones out there that can put out better sound than these things, particularly on the bass end. But if you’re seriously wanting to get rid of the wires between your iPhone and your ears, I don’t think there’s any better option on the market today than the Jabra Sport+. Take care, Allison, and I’ll be listening … on my Jabras, of course.