Geek chic – Jawbone Icon HD & The Nerd reviewed

NoiseAssassin excellent, lightweight earpiece, smart tech

Styling a little dull, high price

Review of Jawbone Icon HD & The Nerd. Picture shows 4 images of the Jawbone Icon and the boxed accessories. ©CarProductsTested2012

Multi-tasking. That’s what Jawbone’s Icon HD & The Nerd does. Jump in your car in the morning with the Icon HD bluetooth headset on and you can make calls til your heart’s content. When you arrive at work, plug The Nerd into your computers USB slot, and can route all your music and any of the alert sounds (for new emails etc) directly into the Icon HD. This’ll stop you from being injured by a flying stapler as your colleague finally cracks after another ‘BING’ sound emits from your PC.

Design and build

The Jawbone Icon HD isn’t some showy earpiece style-wise, but let’s be honest, bluetooth headsets have never exactly been accepted as cool anyway. The Icon HD has okay styling, and is better than most headsets, but it’s still slightly boring to look at. Jawbone do sell a different style of the Icon HD, but it doesn’t come with the Nerd anway.

To physically hold the Icon, it’s decidedly lightweight and feels almost like there can’t be anything inside it. A good thing if you’re wearing it for several hours a day. The Nerd is super tiny and only as long again as the USB section that slides into your computer. Only the pulsating white light gives it away. The materials the Icon HD are made of are clearly top-notch though, and although light, it feels solid.

Review and test Jawbone Icon HD & The Nerd. Images shows both the Icon HD and The Nerd USB. ©CarProductsTested2012

Features and Usability

NoiseAssassin. Cool name, but what is it? Well dear readers, here’s an example just for you; You’re chatting away on an important phonecall. Suddenly, your eardrum is blown inside out because the person you’re talking to has walked into a massively noisy area – i.e. where a roadworker is using a huge jack hammer. It’s annoying, you can’t hear a word they’re saying, and your throbbing eardrum isn’t gonna thank them either. NoiseAssassin cuts out the loud background noise (50cc moped with no exhaust, baby screaming its lungs out, police siren, strong wind etc) your caller normally gets an earful of.

It’s an excellent feature and it works well, plus it’s automatic so no need to switch the NoiseAssassin on. We tested it on a building site where a large JCB excavator was working, and the caller said the noise was no problem at all, and they could barely hear the machine. Thumbs up there then!

Weight 8 grams
Dimensions 44(L) x 18(W) x 25(H) mm
Bluetooth range 33feet (10m)
Bundle 7 earbuds, 1 earclip, USB lead & in-car charger
Colour Dark blue
Battery 4.5hours talktime, 10days standby
Website jawbone.com
Price Icon HD + The Nerd – £99.99, Icon HD – £69.99

The Nerd is a handy wee bit of kit too. As mentioned, plug it into your PC and you can stream all the sound from your tunes, games and notifications into your Icon HD. You can then listen to whatever you want, and if you get a call come through it cuts off the sound from your PC and lets you take the phonecall instead. Another neat little feature.

The sound on the Icon HD comes from a 10mm speaker, and it’s actually pretty darn good considering this is a headset, and not a proper set of earphones. It’s not too tinny or annoyingly trebly, and we actually found the bass and tone range to be respectable enough to enjoy your favourite song or film. We used it with a Playstation 3 for a few of the live games with a talk option, and it worked very well giving clear sound and a quick connection speed too.

Review of Jawbone Icon HD & The Nerd. Image shows Jawbone's excellent packaging, which is very Apple Mac-like. ©CarProductsTested2012

Talking of that, the Icon HD pairs rapidly and easily to whatever Bluetooth device you’re using. Handy if you need to take a call on the move. Included in the well-designed box that the Icon HD and Nerd come in are 7 different size/shapes of rubber earbuds and a plastic earloop. Flip that section of the box open, and underneath sits a small instruction book, an in-car USB-connection charger and a USB lead that’ll fit both the car charger and your computer, or even a wall plug if you have the correct one.

Using the Icon HD is nothing short of easy. There’s one button for powering on or off, and another which is multifunctional and used for all the normal stuff like answering calls, adjusting the call volume, switching between calls, redialling etc. But that button can also be used to pause or play your music, and pressing it will also give you an audio voice of how much battery is left. Nice.

Rather than chat for hours on end, we found an easier (and cheaper) way to test Jawbone’s claimed 4.5 hours of constant talktime by using the Icon HD with the PS3’s live feature on games like Gran Turismo 5. Slightly geeky, but a good test-bed. It definitely passed on that test, so no probs there.

Review and test of Jawbone Icon HD & The Nerd. Image shows the cool packaging the Jawbone comes in. ©CarProductsTested2012

Price

At nearly £99.99, the Jawbone Icon HD + The Nerd set is certainly not a cheap one in the world of BT headsets. However, we have to hand it to Jawbone – they’ve certainly nailed it in terms of sound quality, and features like NoiseAssassin are extremely useful. The Nerd is a good idea if you’re working in an office environment too.

Our Verdict & Final Score

Design & Build 8.0
Features & Use 8.0
Price 7.0
Overall 7.5 / 10

The Jawbone Icon HD + The Nerd set is well-thought-out, smartly deigned and between them they have some excellent features. Jawbone are now synonymous with quality, and it comes across well with the set. If you’re thinking of spending a decent chunk of change on a bluetooth headset and you think this kit would do you well, it’s well worth considering. You can buy the Icon HD separately for £30 less than this set though, and that’s the option we’d go for if buying personally.

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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