Rating: ★★★★½

Pros:

  • Amazing sound for the size
  • 10+ hour rechargeable battery
  • Bluetooth and audio input connectivity
  • Built-in mic for phone calls

Cons:

  • Expensive; $199.99

It’s rather surprising that in a world inundated with mobile devices the portable speaker market hasn’t exploded. But perhaps it’s just as well since you could very well spend the better part of a day perusing the aisles of Best Buy searching for the correct set of headphones, which we know is beyond saturated with over priced, over marketed crap.

One of my first forays into the portable speaker world was with Live Speakr. To say the least I was impressed with their offering, though it lacked the spit and polish we have come to expect from any iPhone dedicated device. And that’s where Jawbone’s Jambox steps in.

When the product released I welcomed it with more than skepticism. My first impression, better yet assumption, was that there was no possible way the sound quality could carry the speaker’s lofty price. While I’m still concerned by its high price, the Jambox delivers astounding audio quality that puts some larger boxes to shame…and it’s portable!

Jambox mini-USB charging port, 3.5 audio input and power switch

As discussed in my unboxing the Jambox‘s top and bottom is finished rubber siding. This helps it stayed glued to the surface its placed on and muffles whatever vibrations might be created. The speaker is small enough to fit into a sweatshirt pocket; its about the thickness of 4 DVD boxes and the length of a large Snickers bar (equally tasty as well). The top of the device has 3 buttons: plus and minus for volume control, and a circular button for answering calls (more on this in a bit) and prompting the Jambox’s female voice to state the remaining battery life, which is represented in quarter increments (almost full, half empty, etc). The iPhone will also display a small bar at the top of its screen representing the remaining battery life, where as the iPad will not.

The left side of the Jambox is outfitted with micro USB port for charging, a 3.5mm audio input and a power switch, that when toggled and held for a few seconds in its top position enters the Jambox in Bluetooth pairing mode (this is also announced by the device’s female voice). Behind the metal grill sits a hidden microphone for answering calls, two 1.25-inch drivers and a passive bass radiator.

Jawbone claims that the tiny speaker can emit up to 85dB at .5 meter and I’d have to agree. The Jambox produces a surreal amount of bass and volume for such a tiny cabinet and set of speakers. I’m so mystified by the Jambox’s sonic abilities that I’d almost swear that someone sprinkled pixy dust over a cabinet 5 times its size and shrunk it to scale.

The Jambox’s talk/battery status and volume buttons

As always, playing music back via Bluetooth diminished the overall fidelity of the audio and amplitude. But what you lose in the audio department you gain in convenience as you can take calls directly on the Jambox. While it won’t say the caller ID’s name it will recite the incoming caller’s phone number, which most will testify to being useless since a countless amount of people depend on their phones to remember their contacts’ numbers. Plugging in the included 3.5mm headphone-to-headphone jack immediately increases the amplitude and fidelity of the Jambox and if you’ve still got Bluetooth engaged it will leave the call features intact.

I tested the Jambox with not only my iPhone but iPad as well. Beyond vastly increasing the iPad’s utility to watch videos thanks to the massively improved sound quality, it acts a nice stand to prop the iPad on, adding enough angle to see the screen while placed on a table. While probably not Jawbone’s intended use, the rubber top keeps the iPad secure and in place.

Battery life of the Jawbone is nothing short of exceptional and matches the care and build quality of the Jambox. In my testing I achieved over 10 hours of playback in Bluetooth mode on a single charge. Jawbone rates the device for 10 hours, so imagine what you can achieve with the 3.5mm input plugged in, though this won’t disengage the Jambox’s Bluetooth since it could very well be paired to another device. But nonetheless, playing back via the 3.5mm input should increase battery life since the audio is being processed via the cord and not Bluetooth, though by how much is debatable.

Jawbone has once again outclassed the competition with a portable speaker that is sonically superior to even some of the big boys. It has a massively solid feel that is defensive weapon worthy, yet it will have your ears oozing with delight. Just remember that it’s $199.99; money well spent if you travel with any portable gadget.

You can buy the Jawbone Jambox from Amazon for $199.99.










Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."