Review: JayBird Freedom provides wireless connectivity and sweat proof warranty

Summary:When I workout I sweat a lot and JayBird has some great solutions for headsets, including the new Freedom Bluetooth headset that provides wireless audio functionality.

In May I took a look at the Outdoor Technology Bluetooth Tags headset and found them to be a good pair of Bluetooth headphones, but I really wanted something like them that was specifically made for working out. I picked up the JayBird Endorphin headset in August 2009 because they had a lifetime warranty that stated they were 100% sweat proof and if you have seen me working out you would know that is a very important feature as sweat flows out of me like crazy when I work out. I have been using the Endorphin headset now for two years and it has withstood my sweat and they continue to work perfectly. Thus, I was quite excited to find the JayBird Freedom Bluetooth headphones that provide wireless Bluetooth functionality with their lifetime sweat proof warranty so I ordered a pair a couple months ago and have been using them on my runs since then. Check out my image gallery and thoughts below to see if this is a headset you may want to consider for yourself.


Image Gallery: Check out photos of the JayBird Freedom Bluetooth wireless headset.
Image Gallery: JayBird Freedom retail package
Image Gallery: Headset in use

In the box and initial impressions

The gold, brown, and orange box arrived a few days after I ordered the headset. The heavy duty top of the box opens up when you release the magnetic flap and inside a formed foam piece I found the headset with a handy carrying case in the center. You will also find a USB charging cable, that unfortunately is not a microUSB cable so I have to remember to keep this one handy to charge up the headset. JayBird includes six sets of eartips, including three GeckoGrip tips that have two layers of ear canal grips to help the eartips stay securely in your ears while working out. They also now include six new curved ear cushions, see my image gallery, that are designed to give you an even more secure fit while working out.

When I first pulled the headset out of the box I thought these were copies of the Outdoor Technology set as they look very similar. However, upon closer inspection you can see that the headset is sealed up more and has some JayBird logo designs in place.

Hardware

I like to run with my Zune HD, but also run with my smartphones since I can use them to track my runs and monitor my workouts. I cannot use the Zune HD with this headset since there is no Bluetooth in that device, but I did test out this headset with Nokia N8 Symbian and HTC HD7 Windows Phone devices. The headset is very light and you should be able to find at least one pair of eartips to fit your ears. The tangle-free flat cable between the two headset ends is about 20 inches long and fits comfortably from one ear around behind my neck and to the other ear. Each earbud piece is about 1.5 inches long and 3/4 inch wide with a weight of just about 1/4 ounce each.

The right earbud is the business end of the headset with the charging port (covered with a light gray cover), microphone opening, two volume/control buttons, and large center multi-function button. There are no controls or ports on the left earbud. You will also find a small sliding fit adjuster in the center of the cable, but given my head and neck size I found I did not have to use this adjuster on the back of my neck.

I charged up the headset with the USB cable and followed the simple steps to pair up the headset with my phones. JayBird states you will get about 6 hours of stereo playback out of a full charge with talk time of 6 hours and standby time of up to 250 hours. Yes, this headset has the ability to take and receive calls, in addition to enjoying music and podcasts.

Specifications for the headset include:

  • Length of connecting cord: 20 inches
  • Ear piece dimensions: About 1.5 inch long by 3/4 inch wide
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Cable type: Rubber flat, tangle-free

Functions and controls

After finding the right size earbuds and charging up the headset you are ready to pair it up with your phones. The headset supports pairing up to two devices before you have to wipe it clean and pair it up again. You simply press and hold the multi-function button (MFB) for 6-8 seconds until you see the small indicator light flash blue and red. Pairing was then automatic on all my devices with no need for a code. If your device does ask for a code, then it is simply 0000.

The MFB and two volume buttons are all you use to control the device and they are easy to all find on the right earbud. You can perform the following functions with the buttons on the headset:

  • Answer or reject a call with the MFB button
  • Control music and call volume with the volume buttons
  • Mute and unmute a call with a double press of the MFB button
  • Voice dial (highly dependent on your device's software) by pressing and holding on MFB button
  • Previous or next track with a long press of the volume buttons
  • Pause or play with a short press of the MFB

Controls were straight forward and easy on the headset. While I could easily control music and podcasts, when I used a streaming client like Slacker Radio I could only control the volume so test it out to see what controls you have with your specific smartphone.

Experiences, price, and availability

While I find the cable arrangement on the JayBird Endorphins to be comfortable and secure, it still does require me to mess around with cables. I love that I can connect to my phones and pop the headphones on without having to worry at all about the cables. The new secure fit ear cushions for the JayBird Freedom headset worked well at keeping the headset secure in my ears while running several miles and it wasn't until about the one hour point when my ears started to feel the headset a bit. I tried other eartips too and found a couple pair worked for me.

The indicator light is towards the bottom of the right earbud and is quite small so it won't attract attention when you wear it out and about. While I wear the headset while I workout, I also like to wear it to listen to podcasts on the train so I don't have to mess with cables and can keep my phone in my pocket.

The headset sounded great with both of the smartphones that I used and I found I kept them at about 75% volume even when running outside in the rain. They seemed a bit heavy on the bass, which is what I prefer, and I enjoyed the audio output. I am not an audiophile, but was impressed by the quality given that the sound was sent via a Bluetooth connection.

I never experienced any skipping or loss of signal during normal operation. However, if I put my hand over the headset to adjust or seat them in my ears I blocked the signal and the music was not available in the headset. JayBird states that you should use an armband with your phone when using this headset and have it mounted on the right side above your waist. I actually place my armband on my left upper arm and haven't notice a problem, but may try moving it to my right arm too.

The JayBird Freedom Bluetooth headset is available from the JayBird site in for $99. I have moved to using these instead of my JayBird Endorphins, but when I choose to run with my Zune HD I do still use the Endorphins. The JayBird Freedom headset is functional, lightweight, and provides peace of mind with the lifetime sweat proof warranty and if you sweat like I do then you should consider this headset for your workout needs.

Other online reviews

I recommend people always check out more than one review when looking for electronics and here are a couple of other JayBird Freedom headset reviews to read:

Topics: Wi-Fi, Hardware, Networking

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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