Small, lightweight, and colorful might best describe the JAM Plus speakers from HMDX. For clarity’s sake, this is the second iteration of the speaker – the first was simply called JAM.
So what’s different about the JAM Plus? Aside from their abundantly bright color choices, the Plus versions stand .5-inches taller and wider at 3-inches. They can also be conjoined into a stereo pair. Aside from that, they’re effectively the same speaker, sporting a similar design and Bluetooth connectivity. This is great, considering the Grace Digital Mini Bullets II speaker system only uses a wireless connection. Bummer.
Each speaker comes packaged in a plastic container that is probably more analogous to that of candy than a consumer electronic. It’s fun, and well represents the product and its cost of $60. You’ll want to read our HMDX Jam review for a speaker that’s $10 cheaper.
At the base of each of these top Bluetooth speakers are buttons for pausing/playing and increasing the speaker’s volume. Underneath is a rubberized button to power it on, and a switch to select mono, left channel, or right channel. Creating a stereo pair requires that you hold down the power button on each speaker – make sure one is set to L and the other to R – for 5 seconds. If the stereo pairing is completed you’ll hear a steel drum noise. In my testing, pairing takes about 20-30 seconds – you’ll hear a rapid succession of tones between each speaker indicating that the HMDX Pluses are talking to each other.
Pairing a phone or tablet to an HMDX Plus is as easy as turning the speaker, or speakers on and selecting the profile from your device’s Bluetooth menu. Make sure that the HMDX Plus is set to mono if you plan on using just one speaker, otherwise, the Bluetooth pairing process won’t work. That said, the HMDX Plus speaker pairs extremely quickly, and surprisingly is one of the fastest and easiest I’ve tested. That isn’t to say pairing a Bluetooth speaker is challenging, but even the tech-averse have managed to pair their phone with this speaker(s) in a matter of seconds; there is no Bluetooth button to push or a combination of buttons to hold.
Read: Best Portable Speaker 2018
From a build standpoint, I’d say that the HMDX Plus are nothing shy of solid. Keep in mind they’re only $60, so the finishes, which is largely plastic, is commensurate if not exceeding the price point. That in mind, I’d opt for two of these over UE’s Mobile Boombox, as a stereo pair easily exceeds that speaker’s sonic capabilities and yet only costs $20 more (note: you can get the HMDX Plus for $50 each on Amazon, which means a pair of them is the same price as UE’s Mobile Boombox).
Sonically the HMDX Plus is quite impressive. While it’s not capable of reaching the UE Boom‘s spectrum – a speaker that costs 3.5 times as much – a stereo pair produces a relatively large sound stage with room filling amplitude. I’d be hard pressed to make the HMDX my at home go to speaker, but for travel they’re more than suffice for hotel room stays, trips to the beach or park.
Battery life is rated at just 4-hours, but if you had two you could very well extend that to 8 by using one at a time, though the compromise will clearly be in sound gusto. Fortunately, charging them up means just plugging in the alway ubiquitous microUSB plug. Also, if you’re looking for added battery time on a single speaker, you need not look further then an AUX cable, which puportedly extends the HMDX Plus’ battery to 12 hours.
Bottom Line: the HMDX Plus is the most balanced Bluetooth speaker on the market today with respect to price; just $60 ($50 at Amazon).