Review: Jawbone Jambox - a wireless speaker for all your audio needs

Jawbone Jambox
By Kerri Neill on 26 Feb 2012 12:09 pm EST
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It's Health & Fitness Month at Mobile Nations!

"The Jambox is an all-in-one Bluetooth speaker, speakerphone and entertainment enhancer."

In Short:
"You can pair pretty much any Bluetooth device and get out of this world audio."

Should I Buy?
"It's a "want" item at a price tag of $199 but I don't think you'd regret the purchase."
BUY NOW

Ok, as a female, talking about weight, regardless of your size, is ALWAYS a touchy subject. With it being Health & Fitness Month across the Mobile Nations family of websites, I decided it was time for me to get back into my routine of diet and exercise to hopefully lose those dreaded extra pounds. I'm a music lover and have to have it playing regardless if I'm doing my P90X workout at home, driving, cooking or whatever. My problem is I absolutely despise headphones. They never fit comfortably in or on my ears and I've tried different speakers for my MP3 player and BlackBerry devices. All of them either have some kind of background static or just don't sound "right" to me. A friend of mine introduced me to the Jawbone Jambox extolling it's virtues and different uses so I decided to give it a try. Keep reading after the break for the full review!

The Review

Packaging:

First off, I just had to show off the packaging of this device. Yes, it's basically a shoebox but with a fun boombox graphic on the lid and compartments for each item inside. Depending on what color you select, that is the color of your shoebox and the graphics.

Jambox Packaging

Inside the box you will find the following: your Jambox device, 60" micro USB charging cable, 12.5" USB charging cable, 36" 3.5mm stereo cable, magnetic carrying case (that folds flat!), A/C wall charger and User Guide.

Specs:

  • Audio - Proprietary acoustic drivers (stereo pair), proprietary passive bass radiator, built-in microphone, output level: 85dB at 0.5, frequency response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Connections - Bluetooth, 3.5mm stereo input, micro USB, simultanious mulitpoint (enabled via MyTALK) which allows connections to two devices at the same time
  • PC Compatibility - MyTALK, Windows 7, Vista & XP as well as Mac OSx 10.5 and higher
  • Size/Weight - L=151mm, W=57mm, H=40mm and Weight=347 grams (12oz)
  • Bluetooth Specs - Wireles range is at least 33 feet, Bluetoothv2.1 compliant, supports Enhanced Data Rate, profiles supported are A2DP, Hands-Free and Headset.
  • Battery: approximately 10 hours of continous play
  • Battery life displayed on iPhone
  • Built-in rechagreable Lithium-ion battery

Design:

Jambox Controls

The Jawbone Jambox in no way resembles other speakers. When left sitting on my counter, people have asked if it was some sort of gaming console remote. The Jambox comes in four different color/design patterns: Black Diamond, Blue Wave, Grey Hex and Red Dot. The outer coverings consist of a mesh-like grille and rubber pieces on both the top and the bottom. The top of the device (shown above) has three buttons: Talk, volume up and volume down.

Jambox Side Buttons

On the side you'll find the three way on/off switch (top = pairing, middle = on and bottom = off), 3.5mm Audio input and the micro USB port. 

Speaker performance for most audio:

Jawbone Size

From the first time you switch on your Jambox, the quick beep and booming greeting instantly catch your attention. When you turn off the device, you'll hear a tone that quickly fades away. I tried to run the Jambox through every test I could imagine from all day Slacker Radio sessions, movies, games and audio from my laptop. While the Jambox isn't Bose quality speaker sound, it is a pretty amazing portable speaker that sounds great. Your favorite songs sound fantastic, while the squawks and snorts of my favorite game came through loud and clear. When the volume is turned all the way up to it's max, you will get some distortion but unless you're trying to blow out the speakers, I don't see why you'd even have it that high. The way to get the absolute best sound is to place the Jambox against a wall or some other solid object. I place mine behind my laptop on my desk (against the wall) and I swear sometimes it sounds like the music is coming from behind me. The sound is so great that you won't even realize it's all playing through Bluetooth.

Speaker performance as a speakerphone:

Jambox Speakerphone
I also own a Jawbone Icon and it is by far one of the best Bluetooth devices I've ever owned so my hopes were high the Jambox would perform the same. The Jambox has the fantastic noise cancelling NoiseAssassin software that Jawbone is known for (caller had no idea I was running water while washing dishes and talking to her) but every so often callers would say it was hard to hear me unless I was holding the Jambox in my hand. I tried the Jambox out on a conference call as well and again the noise cancelling exceeded my expectations but it was hard to hear the others on the call unless the device was facing me. Best scenario, place against a wall facing those in the room so everyone can hear the call clearly.

Battery:

Starting with a full charge, I was able to play Slacker over Bluetooth for about 6 hours before getting a warning that the battery was low. Turning the Jambox off and on for assorted movie watching or game playing, the battery was able to go approximately 20 hours. If you're ever in doubt of the battery time remaining (only iPhone has the indicator on the phone to show battery life) you can simply press the circle or "Talk" button on the top and you'll hear something similar to "you have approximately 2 hours of talk time remaining".

In the end:

Jambox Fitness Month

The Jawbone Jambox retails for a hefty price tag of $199. Yes, it's a whopper of a price tag and yes, there are cheaper portable speakers out there. The build quality, durability (I dropped it quite a few times and not a knick or scratch on it), the Bluetooth speakerphone plus the Jawbone name make it a little easier for me to see why they may charge this high. If it were me, I'd lower it more to the $100 range. Refurbished models are available through Jawbone's website for $129.99. It'll definitely get you through a workout or two!

Jambox by Jawbone

The Good

Noise cancellation is outstanding, sound clarity and bass are fantastic. The Jambox is so small you can pretty much take it everywhere (you can even purchase a chain to wear it around your neck like Marco and his PlayBook on a chain).

The Bad

Besides the cost, not a whole lot. I'm not sure a ton of people would part with that kind of cash for a speaker. Some may think it isn't loud enough but for most it'll definitely get the job done.

 

Conclusion


I love this little box but it's definitely a "want" not a "need" item. It is great to have for movies and playing games on my PlayBook as well as for listening to music while I'm working out. If I had $199 to spare, this would definitely be something I wouldn't regret spending it on.

For more information / purchase Jambox

Jambox

Reader comments

Review: Jawbone Jambox - a wireless speaker for all your audio needs

14 Comments

Looks good. I am looking for a second portable speaker. I currently have the Bose Soundlink which is great. I need a smaller one to carry around without a bag during times when I don't need the loud sound of the Bose.

You make a valid point, but you'll end up spending two thirds the price of the Bose Soundlink for a secondary speaker?

Video with audio is going up on the post in a few. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on a Monster Clarity to do a comparison :)

I purchased a Black Jawbone Jambox a week after it was released and haven't look back. The sound is AMAZING.......size+sound their is NO equal and I've tested several different speakers. Their are some very good bluetooth speakers, but for the SIZE and SOUND you cant go wrong with the JAMBOX

The Jambox is a very fine portable music player. Audio quality is better than most boombox devices. We use it both for music and for the speakerphone applications. Very highly recommended in my family.

I used for with the 9800 and it was ok but you gotta check out the Bose mobile speaker. It has amazing audio. It is alot bigger and works great with PB 2.0

I walked into a store and I just thought that they had some awesome stereo system with speakers to match. Then the guy said, that music is coming from that.

I got one and it is awesome. However, like all devices you will run out of battery in about 10 hours. Unless of course you keep it plugged in.

;)

I would stick with the Bose sound link, for a $100 more you get far better sound quality. You end up loosing on the size and the ability to use the speaker as a Bluetooth 'headset', but honestly how many people are going to actually use this thing to make phone calls?

I got one of these for Christmas and I love it! I use it all the time for my phone and my PS3. Best gift hands down I got this year, and battery life is crazy!

I have this device. The packaging was rather different for mine. It took a hammer to open mine up, because I could not get into the package area where the jam box was located.

Quality sound is good, providing that you enjoy very quiet sound. If you plan on using this while you are on a treadmill FORGET IT!, it's not going to happen.

Would I recommend this to a friend or anyone else? Nope. There has to be a better option out there. The sound coming out of this is just not that great, it can be ok at best if you are intotal silence.