JBL and Under Armour partnered to create a unique pair of Bluetooth sport headphones. The new device, which just launched this week, offers popular features like heart-rate monitoring, social-sharing and activity tracking – while still maintaining a consistent wireless-connection.
The in-ear Bluetooth headphones are specifically designed for the fitness enthusiasts, but are easy enough to pair and customize that anyone looking for a great pair of wireless headphones should add them to their compare lists while shopping around.
In-ear heart-rate monitoring isn’t unique to JBL but few devices offer the same performance as the Under Armour design. Because these headphones are designed alongside Under Armour, the headphones pair easily with the Under Armour Record system, which has many benefits – and only a few pitfalls. Using the app while you workout lets users track their workouts easily, and since these headphones also track your heart-rate – you can record that stat and collate the date with other KPIs like distance, pace averages and calories burned.
You have to have the app launched on your phone though, and while pairing the device is amazingly easy, diving into the many options to connect the data to other devices and services (like Apple’s Healthkit) can be overwhelming at first.
There are just so many options and confirmations when connecting to other fitness trackers, and any other data-collecting devices that you might be using, that you can get lost in the menus. This isn’t a design issue, it’s actually quite beneficial to the user, just be sure to start diving into the settings when you have to time to really set things up – or you could get frustrated easily. There are a lot of options to consider when connecting to social-media accounts and Apple and Google APIs, so take your time and really explore the options to get the best results. The internet is your friend here, while the manual and on-screen displays are very well designed, use the official website to make sure you are taking full-advantage of all the compatible services that the headset allows. The company also lets you email questions or call a support line if you have any issues.
All of this cardio that your tracking means sweat, and the headphones are designed to be sweat-proof and water-resistant. You won’t be able to go diving with this headset on, but if you get caught in the rain while out for your morning run, you won’t have to worry about them getting ruined.
The heart-rate monitor can be quickly accessed by tapping on the right earbud. A quick tap can make the device tell you your heart-rate on-demand whenever you are curious. Using the app, you can setup prompts to notify you when you reach a targeted heart-rate, or when you fall below a desired level of performance.
The new UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate design is extremely comfortable, and each unit comes with a carrying case that offers four different size earbuds to choose from. The open-loop and snug-fit kept the earbuds from falling out while I worked-out, and they withstood me running on a treadmill and running outside for the past few weeks.
The device also offers a few features that you should want standard in all of your headsets, like an inline remote and microphone. You will be able to adjust the volume and take calls with ease, and you can quickly change songs and pause any media without needing to grab your phone.
Fitness aside for a second, I really want to get into the fact that these are a wonderful pair of headphone. In the past I’ve dealt with sport headphones that were heavy on the fitness aspect, while offering subpar performance in the area that usually means the most to users – sound. After pairing the device the first time I never had an issue maintaining a connection. I tried streaming video with the device on Netflix to stress-test the connection, and I never experienced any of the usual hiccups that one might find when using Bluetooth headsets. The speakers are driven by JBL 5.8mm dynamic speakers, and they run on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that offers up to 5 hours of use. You can get a great look at the headphones in action with the official JBL product video below.
I think that the ideal customer for the this design is a fitness enthusiast that wants the benefit of heart-rate monitoring and activity tracking without the need of any other devices. While the UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate Headphones works in tandem with popular devices like the Apple Watch and Fitness bands, its main selling-point should be that you don’t other devices in order to start tracking and monitoring your work-outs. If you have other devices that you frequently use, this will be a great way to connect and share the data, they will just be supplemental to the activity tracking being offered by your new headphones.
The price is really the only setback at this point, at $200 the headphones are comparable to many devices on the market, but its still a high price-point overall. JBL does offer a 12-month premium membership to MapMyRun when you buy the headphones, so runners would benefit the most out of the current promotion.
With a terrific app to support your work-out, a seamless connection to your media and offering a wide-array of compatible devices, performance wise these are one of the best Bluetooth headphones I’ve ever tested. With the $200 price-point though I can see them being out of reach for a few customers. If you’re in the market though its certainly worth comparing, and you should add them to your list when shopping for your next pair of sport headphones.