You may be at the point where you’re thinking “oh, another wireless Bluetooth headset,” which is one of the reasons I have not been reviewing headsets that much lately (I get offers mind you, I turn down a lot.) The Jabra Eclipse was interesting enough on spec sheets that I decided to take a look.

    Jabra Eclipse wireless headsetThe Jabra Eclipse is similar to the Jabra STONE3 we covered in that the earpiece travels with a dock that charges it (it’s a battery, NFC pairing base, and charge stand.) The Jabra ECLIPSE by itself has only a three hour talk time packed into the 5.5 gram unit, something I initially thought was a negative turned out to not be an issue for me with my not being on the phone for three hour calls except when dealing with Comcast, and recharging the earpiece every time you take it off and place it back in the portable dock. If you take the recharge base plus the on-board battery life you’ve got about 10 hours of talk time.

    The earpiece of the Eclipse has two little magnetic charging points, but the device has no buttons and all volume, answering, using SIRI, Google Now, or presumably Cortana, are done by tapping the earpiece twice or saying “answer,” when a phone call is coming in.

    Jabra Eclipse: What’s in the box

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    • Micro USB cable
    • Charging base/battery
    • Headset
    • Bag with three additional ear gels for different sizes (total of four)
    • Support documentation

     

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    Pairing the Jabra Eclipse

    The base unit has an NFC pairing tag built in, so if you’ve got NFC all you should have to do it swipe your phone over the base. If you’re just wanting to pair via Bluetooth you’ll press the bottom of the base and you’ll see it pop up as an option shortly.

    Going outside of the box

    The lack of external controls means you’ll probably want to install the Jabra Assist app, which is available for iOS and Android. Options there include locating device based on where it was last “seen,” reading unread text messages to you (which doesn’t seem to want to work when Hangouts is your default SMS client,) and adjusting the headset for clarity, bass, or normal performance.

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    Something I initially despised about the headset was that the doubletap to invoke Siri/Google Now/The Gods of Mars didn’t work very well. I’d double tap and I’d more often than not end up with the headset reading the battery stats off to me. This was fixed after I checked for a software update in the Jabra Assist app and now double tapping works perfectly for me. Either the software update addressed it or I figured out how to tap it correctly, I don’t know.

    Jabra Eclipse wireless headsetFor those that have wanted Google Now with screen off on a device that doesn’t listen all the time, the headset will allow you to use any of the Google Now commands with your screen off, other than displaying something that would require you to turn the screen on (you’ll get a nice message from Google about having to unlock the device to invoke any commands.) This is probably standard with all Bluetooth devices now, but it’s been a while since I’ve played with any headsets.

    As with all of these devices, I can’t speak to the call quality. This is because Sprint isn’t doing HD Voice in my market, and their voice network sounds like you’d expect any voice network to sound. The WiFi Calling feature is as close as I’ll get to HD voice at the moment, and it sounds acceptable.

    I’m not terribly impressed with playing music on this device, then again I wouldn’t expect to be with it being a mono earpiece that wasn’t designed for one-ear music appreciation. It doesn’t … it’s like listening to one earbud. I don’t think I’d ever be impressed with that. Not an Eclipse issue though.

    With an absurdly lightweight earpiece there come some issues. when I’m walking in a very heavy WiFi/Bluetooth area and the phone is as far away as can be (the signal has to travel through 2.5 feet of tech meat,) the headset does get sputtery. Making it so the phone isn’t blocked completely by my body alleviates that, but if you’re stuck in an office with 10 or so techies, you might have some issues with Bluetooth cross-talk.

    While I never noticed that particular dropout before on headsets I’ve tested, I also didn’t share an office building with a group of 15 people who have every tech device ever made running at all times before, so this may be something that happens to all devices (seriously, I can spot 27 WiFi access points now, about 130 different devices, and maybe 20 Bluetooth devices from where I’m sitting).

    On the pocketability side, the base unit that you carry with you still has some issues in my opinion. It’s just a little bit too large for my pockets to fit comfortably, you still have to carry around a USB cable and charger if you’re going to try and be entirely mobile for days on end (probably not a real scenario,) but overall it’s great for my use.

    The fact that you have to have the base unit with you to pair to a new device does irk me. If your phone has to be reset for any reason and you’re out without the charging base, you might have to wait to re-pair it.

    The Jabra Assist app is actually pretty decent when paired with the Eclipse (I didn’t like it particularly with any of the older Jabras I’d tested.) With the ability to update software without a computer (Air Updates,) find your headset when you’ve lost it, and alert you when it’s getting close to dying time, change your Jabra Eclipse language on the fly (how it reads battery levels off to you, telling you whether you’re connected or not, etc).

    I should point that out before I wrap up if you’re rocking some stubble it can sometimes be heard, well, if you talk with your cheeks.

    The failings I find in this product mostly can be overcome (and hopefully will soon,) by a software update to the Jabra Assist app. The ability to read unread hangouts SMS (or general message,) would be quite useful, and something to tweak the volume it thinks it needs to be at based on various scenarios.

    Overall it’s a very nice headset, extremely comfortable, may require that you shave, not the most powerful Bluetooth in existence but seems to work well without re-pocketing my phone in most conditions, and the double tap-to-launch Google Now is an extremely nice feature unless you miss a tap and end up having to listen to the battery stats.

    The Jabra Eclipse Wireless Headset is available from Amazon for $129.99