One of the problems I have had is to find a set of earbuds that is comfortable. I have to confess that I have resisted trying the Apple Air Pods for a number of reasons some of which are that I am hoping that someone comes up with something that works well, is noise cancelling, is sturdy and reliable, and at a reasonable price.
So with that in mind and after talking to them at the last virtual CES, I had to take a look and listen to the Jabra Elite 85t Noise cancelling headset. It comes shipped in a very compact and sensible packing box. To begin, once unpacked, you need to download an App to your smartphone as there really are no instructions in the box.
First impressions is that the charging case is a nice compact size. I would have preferred a textured case as with dry hands in the winter time, the case can be quite slippery. It is easy to open and the earbuds are held with magnetics inside so not to worry about spilling them out. It comes with a USB-to-USB C charging cable so you can use the same cable used to charge a modern smartphone.
When I mentioned to Jabra my difficulty with ear buds, one thing they mentioned was the size of the new model is oval rather than round which should fit much better so can’t wait to see that and that the package comes with three sizes of ear pieces and one interesting thing he told me was that often one year uses a different size than the other. I had never thought of that might be a problem.
My package came pre-charged and so was nearly ready to go.
I downloaded the App to my Android smartphone. And I have to admit, it is a pretty cool app. The first thing it does is pair with the ear buds and then gives you a guide on how to use the set.
I like the buttons on each ear that you actually press to change options. I could not get used to the swiping I needed to do with another headphone set. Then it runs through a setup program to see when you can hear sounds in each ear and what that does is to truly pair the ear sets to what you can actually hear. From there it downloaded an updated firmware to the headset. The instructions for the update were very easy to follow and takes about 15 minutes.
Charging is also very straightforward. Insert the earbuds in the charging case and it will charge them completely in about 2 and a half hours. You can quickly see the status of them when you open the case as they light up red, yellow, or green to tell you how much charge is there.
Once everything was connected, time to listen and see how it really sounds and I have to say, terrific. Going from headset brand to another can get difficult to remember what to hit or slide and the App has a great Discover section with all the details you need to know to using the Jabra Elite 85t.
One of the unique features is the 11 different levels of sound available through the headset. They go from full Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) to full HearThrough which is their way of telling you that you will hear along with the music, everything around you. All done through the App, once you set it, then use the button on the earbud to toggle between them.
One thing I really like is the semi-open design with pressure relief vents which prevents pressure buildup inside the ear. With the ANC on, you can have up to 5.5 hours of battery time and with a fifteen minute fast charge in the case, you get another hour of playback time which means you can stretch it for up to 25 hours. The case is also wireless charging enabled using any of the Qi-certified chargers. They are also IPX4 rated.
So far, I am impressed with the fit, the sound, and the ease of use of the App. My real acid test will be when I can finally take a trip, hopefully, the end of the month. Available from Jabra for $229 in several colors.
I have known about Jabra for years an in fact, one year while wandering the very noisy halls of Comdex in the mid 90s, I had one of the Jabra tiny phone headsets that was truly amazing in that I could actually talk to people that called me while on the show floor. It was revolutionary then.