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Jawbone launches new Era BT earpiece, offers compelling reasons for this wearable (Gallery)

It seems that Bluetooth earpieces have gone the way of the PND, but with larger smartphones and more people using their phones for audio I think we may see well-designed hardware coming back into fashion.
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New Jawbone Era retail package

The last time I checked out a Jawbone Bluetooth earpiece was in 2010 with the ICON and that was when I gave up on wireless earpieces. Jawbone just announced their next generation headset, the new Jawbone Era, available at Jawbone.com and Verizon for $129.99.

Admittedly, when I see someone with a BT earpiece in today I think they are either a bit arrogant in thinking their conversations are more important than those around them or that they are out of touch with the latest technology. Neither may be true, but it just feels like BT headsets have gone the way of portable navigation devices. However, we are seeing that both may be coming back into fashion as technology continues to evolve and the use cases for such devices make even more sense than they used to.

I talked with Gernard Feril from Jawbone and was intrigued to hear about their findings regarding headset usage that closely match how I use my smartphones and earbuds. Jawbone designed the new Era to satisfy the consumer with these needs.

As you all know, smartphones have gotten significantly larger over the last couple of years and now more than ever a Bluetooth earpiece makes even more sense. Jawbone’s data shows the following:

  • 24 percent of those polled watch short videos on their phones (such as Vine and YouTube)
  • 50 percent listen to music on their phones
  • 27 percent use their phones for calls and music while exercising
  • 33 percent use their smartphones to enjoy podcasts

I have been using the new Jawbone Era for a day and have to say I think this headset is perfect for many of my audio needs and I may be going back to using a Bluetooth earpiece. It’s still early in my evaluation and I plan to write up a full review after a couple of weeks, but so far I am quite impressed with its performance and slick design.

The new Era is 42 percent smaller than their previous generation Era, which is quite an amazing feat considering the last Era was already quite small. It weighs almost nothing, actually just 6 grams, and you likely won't even notice it in your ear. They also developed a charging case, designed to go with you, that extends the talk time to a total of ten hours.

I commute on a train for a couple hours a day, am on phone calls for about an hour a day, use my phone for all my music, and am a heavy consumer of podcasts. I use wired earbuds for most of these audio experiences, but carrying earbuds, untangling the cable, and wrestling with the cable and my backpack are a bit of a hassle. It also limits my range of motion and completely isolates me from the world around me.

I don’t necessarily need full stereo performance with two earbuds for podcasts, calls, and music so plan to use the new Jawbone Era for a couple weeks to see if this small headset is a better option for my lifestyle.

The new Jawbone Era uses Jawbone’s new NoiseAssassin 4.0 noise cancellation technology and with all of the construction near my office and Seattle noise I will be sure to put this technology to the test soon. The new earpiece also supports wideband audio and a couple of the devices I have support this so that is another function I plan to evaluate.

The earpiece package includes 1 medium silicone earbud for the left ear and a small, medium, and large earbud for the right ear. I used to wear my Bluetooth earpiece in my left ear and luckily the medium seems to fit well. I will try my right ear with the different sizes too since I do plan to go running with the Jawbone Era to test its ability to stay in my ear with lots of movement.

The new Jawbone headset iOS and Android application just launched this morning so I have only spent a couple minutes with it and cannot yet comment on its functionality. The software is designed to let you customize the voices on your headset, access your favorite playlists, and even locate your headset if it is lost. I will be sure to cover this in my review.

The Jawbone Era will be available in four colors; black, silver, brown, and red. It is priced at $129.99 for the headset and charging case and $99.99 just for the headset. Verizon and Jawbone.com have it available now with the Era coming to Apple, AT&T, and Best Buy stores in the future.

Let me know if you have any specific questions you want answered in my full review and I will be sure to test things out and cover the topics then.

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Back of the retail package

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Included silicone earbuds

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Jawbone Era in my palm

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Charges via microUSB

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Older Jawbone, ICON, and new ERA

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Jawbone Era and silicone earbud

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Another view of the silicone earbud and headset power button

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USB charging cable and charging case

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The charging case can be attached to your keychain

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The headset flips out of the charging case for easy access

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ICON and new ERA in hand

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New Jawbone Era family

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Updated Jawbone Android application

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You can set the Era up as a trusted device on the Moto X

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Battery status is available in the notification area

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