For years now I have been looking for a great, well rounded portable speaker system for my every day life. Something simple to use, constructed well enough to be tossed in my bag on any given day, and sounds bigger than it looks. I have had a number of speaker docks around over the years but none have ever really been outstanding enough of a product to make me truly happy with the performance. There has always been a compromise between big sound and size. The smaller docks I owned always sounded tiny which is to be expected, it’s the nature of small speaker systems to not have a robust sound. The larger docks often had decent sound but were never truly portable.
So years go by and I had all but given up on the idea of such a portable speaker ever existing that would fulfill my crazy standards and desires for such a product. That is until I saw a photo of a Jambox somewhere online one day. I think it was on my iPad flipping through Flipboard actually, haha. Funny that something as seemingly ordinary as seeing a photo of a new device would manage to stick in my mind as a valid memory to keep around but this managed to do just that. The simple, elegant little box just looked the part of something I would gravitate toward. Upon further research I discovered that not only was it a pretty object to look at but it had the performance to match this unfounded object lust I had acquired. It seemed to have sturdy construction and the audio performance to match the hype but then how do you go about trusting the internet these days. Most information I read about it was the same old uninformative reviews or product suggestions. But like the AiAiAi headphones I bought a few months back I just had a good feeling about this one so I put it on my list of things to pick up when possible.
Along comes Christmas and low and behold a Jambox managed to make its way into my hands. I was certainly anxious to see if this little box would hold up to the grand expectations I had for it and sure enough the Jambox has met and exceeded my expectations. First thing out of the box you notice is the build quality. It’s like a little brick of a speaker, fits easily in the palm of your hand and it feels good to hold at that. The silicon rubber finnish is robust and sturdy and the wrap around grill with its slick, subtle pattern feels as though it would take a lot of prying to pull off. No screws, no un needed functionality or weird “tuning” switches, just a basic set of buttons for volume, bluetooth headset actions and an on off switch that doubles as your access to activate its pairing mode.
So lets talk about that for a second here, the bluetooth nature of the device. While there is a line input in the speaker it is primarily a stereo bluetooth unit and pairing could not be any more simple, quick and effortless. Simply press and hold the power switch in its upmost position for a second and the speaker will speak to you telling you it has put itself in pairing mode. (The same voice will also tell you the battery life or the number of an incoming call) On my iPhone, iPad, and even my Macbook the process of choosing the Jambox as its source is as simple as can be and takes no more than 30 seconds to a minute at the most before you have everything set and ready to go. If the device is paired already it is as simple as turning the Jambox on and it is good to go.
All charging is done via a micro USB cable so you could easily charge this off of your laptop or computer if you don’t feel like carrying around the small included usb wall charger. What else does it come packaged with you may wonder? A USB wall charger as well as two lengths of USB cord, one of which is quite short and very easy to always have handy in your bag. It also comes with a nice flat 1/8″ male to male audio cable for hooking the unit straight into any device with a headphone out, a nice option for quick use with a laptop while keeping the bluetooth function paired to your phone. And last but not least it has a great case to carry it around with you. The case folds elegantly down and is held in place with four small magnets. it’s a welcome thing that they did not take the Apple route with accessories. You have everything you could need right out of the box.
I was incredibly surprised at the battery life of the Jambox. It has a built in battery that is capable of pushing the speaker at high volumes for HOURS, I have yet to fully run the battery down before I feel I could go ahead and top it off. The battery life the bluetooth connection drains from my iPhone is more the issue at hand as the speaker itself has no problem going for hours and hours on a single charge. As for that issue, the battery on your iPhone or iPad suffering because of the wireless connection is something I have come up against but for me personally I am more often than not around an outlet and have to charge up my phone through the day anyway so its not so much of a concern for me. An easy way around this is simply by using the included audio cable and plugging an iPhone straight into the speaker which of course breaks a bit of the cool factor but works wonders at keeping the iPhones battery going strong should I need to.
So wait, theres more! The speaker also has a microphone built into it so it can be used as a bluetooth speakerphone which I find is pretty effective and handy sometimes but not really much of a deal breaker for me.
Last but not least, the sound of the unit. First off, you can not expect it to put out as much audio as a large docking stereo, it is limited by its physical size BUT this thing sure does try its best to keep up with its bigger speaker siblings! I have never head a small speaker system hold up as well as the Jambox. It’s an incredible feat for such a small enclosure but the low end really does have a substantial kick to it. I won’t recite their marketing jargon here but I can say that I am amazed at what a well rounded sound this little speaker emits with little sacrifice to the higher or midrange frequencies.
Something to keep in mind is the amount of bass that you hear is entirely dependent on the surface you set it on. If I am in bed at night watching a tv show or movie on my ipad at a medium volume it astounds me how the mattress resonates the low frequencies and makes for a really satisfying sound. Casual use in the office or out and about on the job site provides an amazingly capable sound and often, with the electronic music I listen to rich in low end, the speaker will physically move around on the surface it is on. I have only heard the speaker distort when clearly pushing it beyond its abilities which is to be expected from any speaker really.
I could easily recommend this to anyone with a similar need for a great portable speaker to accompany your lifestyle on the go. It is a truly brilliant device that was clearly engineered with loving hands and an ambitious goal to bring a huge sound to a tiny enclosure and nailed it. The one thing that is a little hard to swallow is the $200 price tag but honestly this fine work of engineering is worth every penny and would make a wonderful addition to any day bag or picnic basket.
For mor information on the unit you can visit the manufacturers page here. They can be found for sale at any Apple retail store as well as many outlets online including the always wonderful Ghostly Store.