Saturday, June 22, 2024

The best thing about Jabra’s new earbuds is the case

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Jabra is refreshing its earbuds lineup today with upgraded versions of the Elite 10 and Elite 8 Active. Both, now known as “Gen 2,” come with the expected improvements to sound quality, noise cancellation, and other fundamentals. But the real game changer, if there is one, is the LE Audio charging case that comes with both earbuds. You can plug the case into an external device — a treadmill, in-flight video screen, etc. — and the case will transmit that audio over to the buds.

LG’s wireless earbuds have offered a similar feature as their signature trick for several years now. But Jabra is trying to stand out with the technology it’s using: the Elite 10 and 8 Gen 2 both connect to the case over LE Audio and use the still-new LC3 Bluetooth codec, which should drastically reduce any perceivable latency. So you could potentially plug the Jabra case into a Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, or other portable gaming device over USB-C, and the sound would stay perfectly in sync at all times. Many earbuds have a low-latency gaming mode nowadays, but not all — and even with those that do, the experience can be inconsistent across various devices.

Running on a treadmill that doesn’t support Bluetooth? Not a problem.
Image: Jabra

By going with LE Audio, Jabra is hoping to avoid any of those problems. And since the connection is being made between the earbuds and the case, it doesn’t matter if your phone has the latest and greatest Bluetooth chip; it should all just work.

The outer design of both earbuds is unchanged; the Elite 10 Gen 2 have a semi-open design for a more natural, less stuffed-up feeling in your ear. Meanwhile, the closed Elite 8 Gen 2 offer a more durable IP68 dust and water resistance rating, plus MIL-STD-810h ruggedization.

Jabra says it has improved the head tracking and Dolby Atmos spatial audio experience for the Elite 10 Gen 2. And the company claims that both pairs of earbuds now have more powerful active noise cancellation and a clearer, richer transparency mode. But the real selling point is that LE Audio case. Honestly, I prefer a very functional add-on like this — with clear use cases — compared to a “smart” charging case with a screen.

The Elite 10 Gen 2 buds are priced at $279, while the Elite 8 Gen 2 go for a bit lower at $229. Both will be available in mid-June in a variety of colors. Stay tuned for a review in the near future, where I’ll try to come up with any number of ways for testing out that transmitter case.

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