Here in the UK, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of when offices shut and many of us started working from home due to the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. The same is true for many other countries around the world, and over the last year, people have needed to adapt to juggling their work and home life.
For me, working from home was always going to be challenging – cooped up indoors with small children – so a few months into lockdown I decided it was time to replace my trusty old wired earphones (that came with my phone) with something a little bit more suitable.
I thought a pair of True Wireless Stereo (TWS) headphones would be best to give me the mix of functionality and comfort I was after, so after a fair bit of research I purchased the Jabra Evolve 65t.
I am no expert, but they sound great to me
I will get the basic stuff out of the way. You get up to 5 hours battery on a single charge, or 15 hours using the charging case, which is fine if you are not continuously listening to music or in meetings all day. They are IP55 rated so can withstand a moderate amount of water, but they are not fully waterproof. Each earbud has a circular button to control music playback and other features, such as voice assistant control (like Amazon Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant).
I am not going to do a full analysis of the sound quality, which I appreciate is a bit odd for an earbuds review. While I do love my music, I am not overly picky about what the bass, mids or treble are doing. As long as Danny Carey’s thunderous bass drums, Malcolm Young’s driving rhythm guitar and Stevie Nicks’ soaring vocals (from the bands Tool, AC/DC and Fleetwood Mac respectively, in case your musical tastes are not as eclectic/obscure as mine) sound good, I am happy. In that respect, the Evolve 65t earbuds do not disappoint, and you can even use the app to adjust the sound to your liking.
Feel free to read the fantastic, in-depth review of the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds my colleague Ritesh wrote last year for more details though; the sound profiles and features are pretty similar.
Two-device connectivity is a game-changer
The area I want to focus on here is the functionality. The Evolve 65t earbuds are targeted at professionals and are (apparently) the first wireless headphones to be UC (universal communication) and Microsoft Teams Certified. Jabra claims they are compatible with over 10,000 traditional deskphones and all softphone and web clients: I have so far used them for meetings over Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and Cisco Webex, and have not had any issues whatsoever.
The key selling point for me, though, is the fact that the Jabra Evolve 65t can connect to two devices simultaneously. The earbuds come with a USB dongle (the Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter) which provides full integration and functionality between the earbuds and a computer (connecting just via Bluetooth allows audio playback but not full call control). This means that the earbuds can be connected to both a computer (via the dongle) and a smartphone (via Bluetooth) at the same time.
If I have a meeting or receive a Microsoft Teams call, I simply take the earbuds out of their case and they automatically connect to the meeting or answer the call. If a call comes in on my phone, the same process answers it. I can also be listening to music on my phone, then seamlessly switch over to join a meeting or answer a call on my PC (and vice versa). There is no need to reconnect or switch which device the earbuds are connected to. They just work seamlessly with both. And the 10 meter range means I can pace around while on a call (provided I remember to turn my camera off of course).
There are a few minor irritations though, but these haven’t really put me off.
- At around $250, these are eye wateringly expensive. But they are very high quality, and the aforementioned features make them worth it.
- The charging cable is micro USB, and the dongle is USB-A. Both my phone charger and computer are USB-C only, so I need a separate cable (included) and a USB-A to USB-C adapter (not included) respectively.
- Jabra has not created a new case for these earbuds, so the dongle doesn’t fit inside. You do get a pouch for keeping everything together (with a special slot for the dongle), but it would have been nicer to be able to store everything in the case itself.
- The passive noise cancellation, which is a fancy way of saying the earbuds act like earplugs to block out any external sound for the wearer, works great. However, the microphone stays on, so even though I may not be able to hear my surroundings (like birds outside or kids downstairs), everyone else on the call can. That mute button has never been more important. There is a clever feature called HearThrough which filters in some of the surrounding sounds, but it is not the most natural sounding and there is a tiny bit of lag.
Conclusion: Perfect for the home office
The Jabra Evolve 65t earbuds have really impressed me over the six months I have owned them. I was hesitant at first due to the cost, but they provide a perfect mix of form and function. They are comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and the ease with which they connect to both my phone and PC means I don’t need to clutter my desk with any other headsets or earphones. I recommend them for anyone looking to make communication while working from home a breeze.