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Oct 06

Jabra Evolve 65 Review

I got this headset free through work and not from Jabra.


Jabra Evolve 65I recently got my hands on a Jabra Evolve 65 Bluetooth headset. My employer has recently begun handing these out to those who want them. And I want one because I need all the toys!

 

This is one of the newer headsets from Jabra and the only wireless headset in their Evolve line. According to Jabra, this headset has the following features:

World-class speakers are built for both voice and music. Switch easily between conversations and listening to your favorite tracks.

Simply wear the headset to eliminate high-frequency noise, such as human voices – all thanks to the specially designed ear cushions. We call this “passive noise cancellation.”

In-line call controller gives you easy access with large buttons and LED indicators. Pick up or end calls, control volume, or simply mute the line.

The special “busy light” turns red to let people know when you’re on the phone. You can also turn it on manually when you don’t want to be disturbed.

When you’re not on a call, you can tuck the boom arm away into the headband to keep it out of the way.

Bluetooth® Class 1.5 lets you walk up to 30 meters (100 feet) away from a connected device. This gives you great freedom of movement.

Get up to 10 hours of talk time on a single charge. Use the charging cable when you run out of battery.

Connect the headset instantly to any NFC-enabled device. Simply tap the two together and you’re ready to talk and stream music.

So let me compare their claims with my reality and see how this thing comes out. 

I do want to say at the outset that I think these are fairly stylish. Jabra seems to have decided on a simple and understated look and I think it stands out from the competition.

Now, to the features:

Like the Jabra Evolve 30's, these have very underwhelming speakers with regards to music playback. However they do sound noticeably better than the Evolve 30's (I just did a test. Man do those 30's sound terrible with music!). The music is not nearly as muddled on the Evolve 30 and there is decent bass and treble separation. These could be used for music headphones if you are one of those who is not too picky about how good your music sounds. These don't hold up at all against the Jabra Evolve 80's or the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC headset.

Their statement "Switch easily between conversations and listening to your favorite tracks." is a touch misleading as you can't actually change music tracks using the headset. The headset does stop the music while you are on a call and starts it up again when the call ends. But skipping forward to a next song is a no-go. Same with play/pause features.

The speakers do a fine job with voice.

As with the Evolve 30's, their "Passive Noise Cancellation" is well exaggerated. Putting anything over your ears will cut out some background noise. And that's about all that these provide. If you want to really block out human voices with these things, play music at a decent volume. This "feature" seems like an attempt from Jabra to make their headsets more feature complete than they really are. If you work in a super noisy environment, get something with Active Noise Cancellation as these provide no more noise cancelation than any other decent headset on the market.

Evolve 65 ControlsThe call controls are on the outer shell of one of the speakers. They seem to be logically aligned. I've not accidentally hit a wrong button or anything like that. They are also pretty responsive and act exactly as you would want them too. One minor issue is that in their design of using as few buttons as possible, muting and unmuting has a bit of a delay. To mute, you press and hold the "volume down" button. According to the manual you are to hold this button for 2 seconds to mute or unmute. I don't know about you but 2 seconds is a very long delay for a mute operation. In reality it doesn't seem to take the full 2 seconds to take effect. However a co-worker who has been using this headset for quite some time lamented that the mute operation took longer than he'd like it to take.

One great feature of this headset is that there is a busylight feature. When you are on a call, a red ring appears on the outside of the headset. But it only shows up on one of the 2 speakers meaning there is a 50/50 chance that someone walking up to you form the side will see that you are actually on a call and not just listening to music. It also can't do anything else but light up red when you are on a call. So unlike the Blync or Kuando busylights, this won't show green if you are available or flash red if you are in a meeting. 

Charging the headset is easy enough by simply connecting the provided USB charging cable into the headset. Jabra avoids the mess Plantronics came up with and they skip a charging base entirely. All things equal I prefer not having a base to having the limited use port-waster that Plantronics ships with the Voyager Focus UC.

The USB dongle is also less obnoxious than what Plantronics ships but, like Plantronics, Jabra are super-impressed with lights on a dongle too. Fortunately the light on the dongle doesn't blink for no good reason like Plantronics does. But this one does change colors seemingly randomly and the light stays on the whole time. And like the Plantronics, there is no way to turn off this light. Hey guys, take a note from everyone else and stop with the lights. Or at least give us an option to turn it off. It's distracting.

The boom microphone work pretty well however, just like the Evolve 30, it sounds like your farting when pushing the microphone up or pulling it down. Don't believe me? Well listen to this recording of me pulling the boom microphone down from directly vertical to horizontal.

Why they released this headset with that "feature" is beyond me. People on the other end of the call absolutely hear this.

So how well does the microphone work? Jabra does claim active noise cancelling with the microphone. I'll let you be the judge how well it works. I've called the Skype for Business "Check Call Quality" feature. Behind me is a server in a closet spitting out white noise. The TV is on in another room and I can hear it with my headset on my ears. I am saying the nonsensical phrase "I would like a pear for supper".

Jabra says this about the boom arm:

When you’re not on a call, you can tuck the boom arm away into the headband to keep it out of the way.

Unless you have a very small head, this statement is absolute rubbish. Yes, there is a magnet in the head band. And yes, when the speakers are pushed all the way up into the headband then the boom arm attaches to the magnet. I've made a video showing this. All Jabra had to do was make the magnet longer. The groove is there for the headset but they put in too small of a magnet. Which then makes us at work wonder why they even bothered in the first place. 

Aside form the random lights on the dongle, Bluetooth range is pretty good. It may actually be better than the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC but I didn't do scientific testing. I walked to the water fountain at work and the Evolve 65 seemed to break up less than the Voyager Focus. I can walk to all corners of my apartment and there aren't any dropouts.

I also tested the NFC pairing feature with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. I enabled NFC in the phone settings. The NFC zone on the Evolve 65 is on the speaker with all of the controls. So I tapped the back of my phone randomly onto the back of the speaker because I'm not entirely sure where the NFC zone is on the back of my phone. After the third tap, My phone perked up and asked if I wanted to pair it with the headset. I clicked yes and presto! My phone was paired. This worked really well and is a lot easier than any other Bluetooth pairing I've done.

Fortuitously, my dad called my freshly-paired mobile phone. I asked him how I sounded and he said I sounded as good as ever. Keep in mind that I still had a server hissing out white noise behind me and the TV on (and audible) in the other room.

In short, this is a perfectly functional Bluetooth headset. My major gripe is that the speakers are still not good enough for listening to music, at least for my tastes. The Evolve 80 and Plantronics Voyager Focus easily exceed the music playback feature of this headset. And while there are some half-baked features in this headset (busylight, boom magnet) I find it a quality Bluetooth headset for those looking for something a bit more professional-grade than what they may be currently using. 

This headset currently retails on Amazon in the US for $179.99USD. That's about the same price that you can get the newer and much better Plantronics Voyager Focus UC. As such, I find it hard to recommend this one at this time. Should there be a nice price drop then I'd have to think that the Jabra would be worth a go. This headset is also approaching a year old. Jabra is definitely on the right path here and I'm eager to see what the next generation will bring. 

 

 

1 comment

  1. Chris Sandiford

    What’s annoying with these headphones is connected to the “random light” comment. The light isn’t random, it’s blue all the time and only makes a connection and wakes up (light turns green) when there is audio coming from the computer (presumably to save power). Why this is annoying is that unless you have constant sound coming out, listening to a full length piece of music or watching video, the headset disconnects. So here’s me, trying to edit audio tracks in Audacity and as soon as I stop the track, make a correction and go to play again, the headset has cut out, taking two seconds each time to reconnect. So in short, useless for video/audio editing. I’d liek to be able to change this setting!

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