Bluetooth Headphones in 2020


October 21, 2020

I’ve been looking for some bluetooth headphones that I can use both on a mobile phone and a computer at the same time. I want something portable enough to take with me, but comfortable enough to wear all day. I want something good for listening to music and podcasts on the go, but also for taking calls and video calls. After some investigation I’ve settled on the Jabra Elite 85h.

Reviews are pretty unanimous that the top of the line over-ear wireless headphones are Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (retailing around $490), followed by Sony WH-1000XM4 ($410), and finally Jabra Elite 85h ($380). The reviews uniformly agree the Sony has terrible call quality which immediately rules it out, leaving the superlative Bose and the runner-up Jabra (most alternatives have poor call quality).

However there’s a twist, bluetooth calls on PC are often problematic due to the type of bluetooth available in computers. Jabra sells bluetooth headsets, such as, the Evolve2 85 for both computers and mobile phones using a bluetooth adaptor to allow quality calls on the computer. The Evolve2 is a bit more expensive, gets poor reviews and doesn’t have a portable form factor, so it doesn’t meet my specifications.

It turns out that the Jabra bluetooth adaptors for PC can be used with other Jabra bluetooth headphones, although it’s not supported by Jabra. Buying the Jabra Elite 85h with the Jabra Link 370 Adaptor should give me the best of both worlds. You can similarly get a compatible bluetooth dongle for the Bose NC700, but it’s hard to find the right sort of bluetooth dongle in Australia (Bose are developing their own but it’s not available yet).

The Jabra Elite 85h has a great form factor and design, which I really like. It automatically mutes when you take it off, turns off when you fold it up, has a reasonable carry case and physical buttons. The Bose has touch control which is reportedly a bit finicky, and there’s been some reports of words being gobbled by the fade in and the mute on talk detection being accidentally triggered. While the Jabra doesn’t have quite as good active noise cancelling or sound quality as the Bose, it’s very well designed and has good call quality (for headphones without a boom).

I ordered them from the Microsoft Store one afternoon and incredibly got them delivered the next morning. So far I’ve found them good, but I’m yet to test them with the Jabra Link 370. Having reading a lot of positive experiences with the Jabra Link on Reddit, I’m expecting it to work well.