Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless full review

Wireless headphones with in ear heart rate monitor

The Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless is an interesting mix of two devices. Being a heart rate monitor and a headset it makes going for a run even less of a hassle. It’s a complete headset with a microphone and volume buttons, so you can use it for calls too. For this review I’ve used it mostly on runs with a smartphone which is the intended use.

In the Box

No surprises in the box, obviously the headset and charging cable. And, as it’s an in-ear system, you also get quite a few different sized accessories to customise it and make it fit nicely to almost any ear. But you also get a nice travel pouch to protect the headset when you don’t use it.

Heart Rate monitoring

Well, this part is rather interesting. It takes some delicate work to get the heart rate monitoring to work properly. I very much advise to test it out with the different pieces provided to gave a good fit. The app has a calibration option which I recommend using. Also try out the different sized accessories to make it fit properly. I’ve had numerous occasions in the past where I thought my small ears would fit normal, but then it would fit better with a kid size. So just try them out, it will cost you two minutes and can save you losing data. Anyway. On to reliability.
I compared the Jabra to the Wahoo Tickr X HR-Strap with a Garmin 910. And I have to say, it’s quite accurate, as you can see in the graph below:Jabra-Pulse-vs-Wahoo-TickrWhy the Wahoo Tickr X? Well, it’s is my go-to device when testing out new gadgets. And as you can see it’s quite close. Which of the two is the most accurate is still a guess, but the biggest gap I saw was 4bpm. And overall it was close to 1-2 bpm in difference over 20 minutes. At the start you can see a bit of flatlining with the Wahoo as I didn’t properly wet the contacts. Then I got sweaty enough (I cut of the first 10 minutes for this graph). I sprinted up a hill and the spike was followed by both correctly. Maybe the default ‘offset’ is just two beats. But who’s counting. In other runs it showed the same level of accuracy compared to wrist and other chest straps. When using the Jabra App you get a notification when it loses your HR too, sometimes after a jump or just after time, the ear buds move a bit and they lose ‘signal’. This happened a couple of times, but just a quick touch was enough to re adjust the sensor. Nothing too annoying.

Sound Quality

I’m not a sound engineer, but the overall quality is quite good. Nice low tones and crisp clear audio. Absolutely better than a cheap headset. However, I have no way of testing or comparing this so I’ll just leave my opinion at this: I like it.

Compatibility

The question with this device is, how compatible is it? The sensor is not dual connective, so it only supports Bluetooth connections. This means any Garmin device is not compatible and numerous others aren’t either. So, before you buy, please check with Jabra (or your device manufacturer) if it works (all recent iPhone and Android phones should be OK though).

One thing that’s a bit of a downer is that you can only update the firmware using a Windows computer. Being a mac user myself this was a bit annoying as my phone kept reminding me to update the firmware every day for about a week. I finally caved and dusted off an old laptop. So keep this in mind. The update process is a piece of cake though, you need access to a computer for maybe 10 minutes and that’s it.

Jabra Sport App

The app is available for iPhone and Android (sorry Windows Phone). And the app itself is made to take along during an exercise, it also gives you the current battery and HR status. While the app is quite complete in functionality, it has a large draw back. There are no proper sharing or export options. You can download a CSV file, but can’t send it to Strava, Runkeeper nor Endomondo and neither of these accepts csv as an upload either.

Speaking of Strava, Runkeeper or Endomondo, they all work with the headset (on Android at least):

So you can use any app you prefer if you’re not a fan of the Jabra app itself.

2016-01-08 11.50.00Tests

In the app you have a couple of tests to determine your level. It’s up to you if you want to do them. It can give you a nice baseline indication and if you repeat the test later you can see if your training has had the desired effect.

Rockport: The Rockport test is a simple walking test to determine your VO2 max. This can also be done on a treadmill.
Orthostatic HR: A good test to see the ‘readiness’ of your body and show you the balance between training and recovery.
Rest HR: A simple test to determine your rest heart rate. Useful for plotting your HR zones.
Cooper Test: Another fitness test to determine your VO2 max (and overall fitness level). I remember these from high school. ugh.

It’s nice to do the tests every now and then. It will give you an indication of progress and maybe the motivation to keep going.

Daily Use

So in using the headset it fits quite comfortable, yes it needs a nudge to get in your ear, but once it’s in you don’t actually notice it being there.

Jabra-Pulse-In-Ear-11

To charge it you’ll find the USB port on the right earbud, under the rubber. While the left ear bud has a touch button for interaction with the app or your phone (start sports app, start workout, etc.). The multi use button on the small controller is for interaction with Siri or OK Google and answering calls, etc.

Price

While the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless isn’t the cheapest headset on the market, it’s certainly the most versatile. If you go out for a run, you don’t have to think about wearing a heart rate monitor and you have your music at the same time. So, if you are considering buying the Jabra Sport Pulse, keep in mind that you don’t have to pay for that extra heart rate monitor.
You can buy the Sport Pulse wireless for $97 on Amazon

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1 Comment on Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless full review

  1. what’s your view on the usability?
    also on the accuracy you seem to have got good results like I did. However there are some people out there with a more missed experience in terms of accuracy. Maybe firmware updates since then??

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