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Summary:

The new Jawbone Era is nearly half the size of its predecessor, and with a charging case gets nearly double the battery life.

Jawbone Era
photo: Jawbone

A new headset wasn’t what I had in mind when Jawbone said it had a new wearable to show me, but the new Jawbone Era is a good reminder of why Jawbone is a leader in the headset space. As Jawbone increasingly becomes known for Bluetooth speakers and activity trackers, it’s easy to forget the company started out in the noise cancellation business and has made a number of excellent Bluetooth headsets. And based on my experience with it, the new Jawbone Era is a worthy successor to its predecessor.

Full disclosure: I’ve been using the original Jawbone Era to test the Bluetooth capabilities of cell phones and other devices for about two years now, so I’m a fan of Jawbone’s headsets. That said, I’ve also tested plenty of other headsets over that time, and I generally feel more comfortable using ones that are smaller than the Era. I’m not a big fan of using headsets in public, so in my opinion, the smaller the better.

Jawbone Era sizes

As you can see, the new Jawbone Era (right) is significantly smaller than the previous model on the left.

Smaller is better

If you’re familiar with the original Era, this one will look a lot different. It’s still recognizably a Bluetooth headset, but compared to the original, it’s positively tiny – 42 percent smaller, in fact. It looks sleeker too. There’s a light pattern on the headset that looks similar to the speaker grille pattern on the Jawbone Jambox. Also like the Jambox, it comes in a number of different colors, including black, brown, red and silver.

Using the new Era is similar to the original, as well as many other Bluetooth headsets out there. There’s a multifunction Talk button on the back of the headset and a Power switch on the inside, next to a voice activity sensor with a status LED ring around it. It’s set to pairing mode out of the box, but it’s easy to pair with additional devices by holding down the Talk button when you turn the headset on.

Aside from the size, the only other thing that’s noticeably different about the new Era is that it comes with a charging case. The charging case is a sleek little box with a flip-out microUSB connector that the Era tucks into quite nicely. It has a little strap on the outside, which makes it easy to fasten around something else like a key ring. On its own, the Era is good for up to 4 hours of talk time. But the case can hold an additional six hours worth of charge. The original Era, on the other hand, was able to last up to five and-a-half hours, but didn’t come with a case.

Jawbone Era Colors

Like the Jambox speaker, the Jawbone Era features a similar design pattern and comes in a number of different colors.

Bigger sound

Jawbone has also made a lot of changes that you can’t see. The new Era uses version 4.0 of Jawbone’s NoiseAssassin noise cancellation technology. This helps block out background noise when you’re making a call, so even in a relatively noisy environment you can be heard clearly. In practice this works really well. I placed a call using the Era on a noisy street in Manhattan and left a message on my voicemail, which I had no trouble hearing when I played it back.

Sound quality has also been given a boost in the earpiece itself, as Jawbone has redesigned the acoustic system of the headset. It has a deeper driver, and Jawbone says it spent three years developing a new design for the earbud. That seems a bit extreme, but I was told to think of the earbud as the room in which music it played — in other words, it has a big impact on acoustics. One thing’s for sure: It makes the headset really comfortable to wear, even without attaching the included ear hook.

Calls sound great over the Era — clear and crisp, with plenty of volume. The headset senses environmental noise and adjusts earpiece volume accordingly, so if you’re on a call and you walk outside, the volume automatically gets louder so you don’t have trouble hearing. The Era also supports wideband audio (or HD voice) on compatible handsets and networks, which should provide a nice boost to call clarity.

Jawbone Era clear

Here’s a look at what’s powering the new Era. Sad to say this awesome see-through version is not for sale.

Jawbone says another big reason it re-engineered the sound system is because it received feedback that a lot of users listen to music with their headset. That’s a little surprising, but I know I do my fair share of listening to music while writing with just one earbud in. And music definitely sounds better on the new Era than it does on the previous one, with a richer, fuller sound. That said, I still think the Bose Bluetooth Series 2 headset provides the best mono Bluetooth music playback I’ve heard.

More features

You can use the Era with Apple’s Siri or Google’s Google Now voice assistants. This allows you to place calls, play music, read back emails and even get turn-by-turn directions in your ear as you’re walking or driving. The headset also works with Jawbone’s mobile app, which allows you to customize some of the button functions on the headset. You can also use it to help you find a missing headset: As long as the Era is on and within reach, it will make a high-pitched beeping sound until you find it. (In case it happens to be in your ear, you’re given plenty of warning before this actually happens.)

The Era also works with Jawbone’s Nerd USB connector, which allows you to connect the headset to any computer, regardless of whether the machine itself has Bluetooth. Jawbone is updating the Nerd’s firmware so that it can take advantage of the Era’s wideband capabilities.

Alex Jawbone

The new Jawbone Era’s small size is one of its best features. You can’t look this cool with a big headset.

Jawbone no longer sells the original Era, but if it did, the decision of which headset to buy would be a no-brainer. The new Jawbone Era sells for the same $129.99, which includes the charging case. You can buy the headset itself for $99.99. Compared to the original Era, you’re getting a smaller headset with better sound quality and more programmable features for the same price.

Compared to other small Bluetooth headsets, the Jawbone Era might seem a little pricey, but I’m inclined to think the quality is worth it. It’s just as comfortable to wear for long periods of time as some of the bigger, professional models from Plantronics, with a design that’s a lot easier to swallow for the style conscious. If you only need to use a headset occasionally, I think it’s fine to look for something less expensive. But if you’re looking for a headset to use on a daily basis, the new Jawbone Era is well worth your attention.

  1. After using Blue Ant headsets for years, I bought a Jawbone and it was so terrible in comparison to the Worst of the Blue Ant headsets, that I would Never buy another one!
    The new Blue Ant Q3 is so far superior in terms of comfort, call quality, and features, to the Jawbone, it is a sure thing that the only way I would Ever even try another one is if someone were to Give me one.

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    1. Sounds like we have a BlueAnt employee posting comments to bring this product down… And how can you compare the BlueAnt Q3 with the new ERA if you refuse to use another Jawbone headset? Fixer Goode… your comment is irrelevant.

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    2. I agree I have had just about every new model of Jawbone (each year I upgrade), for the money such a disappointing product. I’ve even tried the online upgrades, still not the quality of a Blue Ant 2… Jawbone will never get another nickel from me. Oh, and I’m not an employee of Blue Ant, just my opinion.

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  2. jawbone needs to use a earhook like q2 and q3…owned 2 jawbones with 2.0 assassin and the wind blew one out of my ear and the other time was when it bumped the seatbelt and fell out the car window….. never had it happen to the q2 i purchased later with a far superior earhook than the jawbone.. could’ve just well drove down the road and threw $200 out the window….

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    1. The new Era comes with an optional ear hook. I found it snug enough to wear without the hook, but I didn’t wear it in a car.

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  3. I have tried every medium to high end blue tooth headset on the market as an ex Best Buy mobile manager during a lay off from my regular line of work… all of them- Sliver, Blue Ant, Sony, Jabra, you name it and wanted to like every single one either for design or brand recognition… all $75 to $150 a pop… and by far for call quality, text to voice, consistency for the people on the other end listening (which is the point to be heard clearly) The Jawbone Era blows them all away. ’nuff said…

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    1. Richard G Durishin Friday, January 24, 2014

      Ha! You obviously have not tried the Bose Headset II. Now, I am definitely no Bose fanboy (I’m a Paradigm, Shure and Sennheiser guy) but, the Bose BT Headset II has THE BEST sound of any headset below the B&O one you can no-longer get…and on both ends of the call.

      But, it’s not perfect.
      A2DP is always on – so, unless you turn it off, every sound but the ring tones go through the headset, not the speaker. At least it fires up quickly enough that you can turn it on, stick it in and it will pair and answer without having to touch the Answer/End button.

      Also, the Bose is nowhere near as good at dictating texts accurately with background noise – like driving.

      On the upside, the Bose last longer. I have gone through 5 Eras since 2011 and am on the same Bose since 2012. Every 8 months or so, the Era just seem to stop being able to separate ambient sounds from mine and I am very gentle on these things never working out in them, letting them get wet… And every one I have had has done it.

      To wrap – I use my Bose BT Headset II inside and my Jawbone Era when I am driving. I am looking forward to getting one of the new Eras. Just wish they made it in Yellow to match my 1020.

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  4. Bought the new Era and I’m very happy with it. Sound is great, small earbud fits well comfortably in my ear over a long period of time. NA 4.0 also seems to do it’s job well. I also found that I could fit the medium earbud over my old ICON which made it more comfortable and increased the volume. Not a perfect fit, but it seems to work well enough.

    Although advertised to work with Google Now, it only seems to voice dial when connected to my HTC EVO LTE. However the voice dialing works remarkably well. The Jawbone app is hit or miss when using it to dial into conference call automatically (appointments originate from Microsoft Outlook/Lync).

    Time will tell if this lasts over time… my ICON did well, but I didn’t use it that much as it was a bit uncomfortable. I’ll definitely be using the new ERA more often. It’s easy to wear long term. I also find myself on conference calls more often and this pairs nicely with my laptop as well as my phone.

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  5. I just received my new Era today and can tell you that the difference in comfort compared to the old Era is awesome. I am a truck driver, so the new noise cancelation will be much appreciated as well. Also ordering off jawbones website is easy, and even though I live in Alaska it still showed up on my door step the following day (free shipping).
    As for other earpieces goes, I will never buy any other brand again.

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    1. Let me be direct… Did you purchase the new Jawbone with your own money? Are you receiving compensation in any form to review Jawbone?…Mr. truck driver.

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