July 24, 2011

Review: Jaybird Wireless Bluetooth Buds

I've been questing for a great set of stereo Bluetooth headphones for some time. I'm looking for:
  • Light weight
  • Stereo BT for music, with AVRCP to control the remote music player
  • Full headset functionality
  • Long(ish) battery life
  • Great fit
Great fit is the most important characteristic, as I want to use these when I'm cycling, running, or working out at the gym. They simply have to possess a comfortable fit while staying in my ears during exercise.

I believe I can declare victory in this quest through the Jaybird JF3 earbuds. I first saw Jaybird at Macworld 2010 where they promised they would deliver ear buds with the above characteristics. I waited patiently throughout 2010, but no product. I almost gave up hope, but saw a random tech mention of them recently saying they had finally released the JF3s. Might have happened sooner than two months ago, but I was reminded then so ordered a pair.

The packaging is beyond amazing. Overkill is the correct word. I've enclosed a somewhat blurry photo of the packaging and accessories. The box build and material is high quality, and the box is closed via a magnetic connector. Wow. Great sign as I went to use the actual headphones.

Jaybird jf3 headphones

The headphones did not disappoint. Audio quality is more than acceptable, the pairing process was painless, and they delivered full music and phone calling handling capabilities. I've paired them with a iPhone 4 and a Windows Phone 7 (Samsung Focus) with nary an issue.

The key advantage over other BT earbuds I've tried, however, is physical fit. Jaybird includes a myriad of ear canal size adapters, and a newish (based on the paper insert) additional rubber attachment to keep the JF3s firmly and comfortably in place. I've had the earbuds for a few weeks now, and they've stayed comfortably attached to my ears ~ 20 hours of exercise and travel. Running, cycling, weight lifting, nothing seems to significantly disturb them once you select the right combination of ear canal size and optional additional ear fit "thing". The limited Jaybird documentation didn't help me significantly in making these selections, but a bit of tinkering with different pieces and I was good to go.

Battery life has been more than acceptable. I believe I got ~ 8-10 hours on a single charge, and have only had to recharge twice since I got them, inclusive of the initial charge.

Negatives? Not many. It appears the charging cable uses a proprietary or little used USB standard connection, but that is negated by the fact I can charge them anywhere using the standard USB ports on my Mac. The packaging is overkill, as is the oversized carrying case they give you for the JF3s, but I suppose a hard case is in order to protect your investment? Minor niggles in a great overall experience.

The best recommendation I can give a CE gizmo is the "I use it everyday and love it", and the Jaybird JF3 wireless Bluetooth buds have joined that club. They go everywhere with me now. It's liberating to finally have great music and phone handling capabilities out exercising without the hassle of wires. I finally have that!

Great job, Jaybird!
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