Most wearables track your fitness during your workout, giving you a full read out of what you've done and how you can get better. Halo Neuroscience flips the script with a technique called neuropriming, which stimulates your motor cortex to make your brain more potent so that you can get better.
It debuted all this in the Halo Sport, but it aimed it at elite athletes – and it came with an elite price ($699). Halo Neuroscience soon realised that there were more uses for neuropriming than professional sports, as people wanted to use it for studying music and other less intense physical activities.
So with the Halo Sport 2, it's looking to make things more accessible, and at CES 2019 I got a first look at how its new $399 headset is shaping up. The first part of the accessibility effort is design, so Halo has redesigned the Sport 2.
It looks less like someone added some foam to Beats headphones, and rather more unique. The top strap is still quite big, but that's because that's where the priming layer needs to rest. That priming layer has also been redesigned. Instead of using three separate priming layers there's a single priming layer with one connector to the headset. You just have to snap it in.
Be warned though, if you have thick hair like I do it may take a bit to get the priming layer ready. You have to both make sure the Sport 2 is tight and then kind of wiggle it through your hair. It took two tries for me. Intensity ranges on a scale from zero to 10; I started on a 5, but I couldn't feel anything so we bumped it up to 7.
The new look is much improved too. The greenish-blue accent adds some nice character, and the metal sides give it a premium feel. It feels good on the head, and the cups comfortably fit around your ears. They also feel well-built. If you've held a pair of Beats you know they feel like they could snap if you sat on them; not so here. It might be a little too big for people with smaller heads though.
I wasn't able to test whether the new priming layer worked well, because I only had a handful of minutes with the device and you need about 20 before you're ready to take on a task. I was, however, able to try out the new Bluetooth music functionality.
Sound quality is actually pretty good. Even in a crowded CES exhibit hall I was able to hear the music clearly. Bumping the volume all the way up didn't distort the sound either, though the bass doesn't match the level of bass you're going to get on a Beats headset. In fact, don't expect the noise cancelling powers of something like a Sony or Bose headset either – it's not built for that. Just know you'll get some good quality sound.
Halo Neuroscience wanted to make a headset that looks and feels more accessible than the original, and in our short time with the device it looks like they're on the way to accomplishing that. We're not quite sure how the new priming layer will work, or whether it really is good for activities like music, but that'll have to wait until we get some extended hands-on time.
How we test