November 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Jawbone Jambox Portable Bluetooth Speaker: A Music App’s Best Friend?

First, the bad news: This little wireless speaker costs $200, which is far more than most people would pay for a little portable speaker. Experts in the consumer electronics industry generally assume that starting at $200, people have to check an expenditure with their spouses, and for something like this, the response would probably be “you’re going to spend $200 on what?”

But the Jawbone Jambox, from the makers of Bluetooth headsets and other cellular accoutrements, has heft, belying substantial magnets — generally a sign of speakers that are not toys, as most similarly-sized speakers decidedly are. It vibrates with bass in your fingers when you turn it on, as if to prove that it’s no lightweight sound-wise, either.

Of course, using today’s consumer-grade physics, it is not, to our knowledge, possible to reproduce sound perfectly with a device of this size. Any portable speaker is always going to be off — it’s just a matter of “by how much.” We’re happy to report that the sound quality is as good as can possibly be expected, given the size constraint, which lets the Jambox pack neatly away into your carry-on alongside your Kindle, iPad, Android, toothbrush, and other essentials.

It uses Bluetooth, not AirPlay, to stream music wirelessly from your smartphone or laptop (or you can use the cable pictured above) — but that means you don’t have to mess with any settings inside your apps. Whatever you play on your smartphone will come out of this speaker — even voice calls.

Yes, this thing audioconferences, which means that travelling businesspeople have a handy excuse for expensing it. Repeat after me: “I really need the JamBox for conference calls on the road because my smartphone speaker doesn’t reach everyone in the room. No, I don’t need it for adding sound to my hotel room — that’s just a nice extra feature that will add to my well-being, improving productivity, but mainly, I just want it for the conference calls.”

Important Update! We have discovered that if you leave this device turned on, it will proclaim in a really loud voice, possibly at 4am, something like “My life force is running weak, please recharge me now!!!” It will wake you up. It is not good. If you buy the Jambox, remember to turn it off.

We tested the Jambox with MOG, which originally suggested that we take a look at the Jambox, and which provided a code that lets you upgrade to free shipping, should you choose to buy one. Simply go here and enter the code MOGFREESHIP, or MOGFREESHIP-AK if you’re in Alaska, or MOGFREESHIP-HI if you’re in Hawaii.

Oh, another neat thing about the Jawbone Jambox: It doesn’t include a display. Instead, a voice tells you stuff, like how much battery life is left, or whether it’s ready to be paired with your Bluetooth device (we had no problem with an iPhone or Mac laptop, but our ornery Windows 7 desktop refused to play nice with it). Here’s an audio sample of what that sounds like.

Jambox in pairing mode
  • Thoroughbredmotel

    I’ve got a Jambox – use it to stream via Spotify – very, very, good. Also good for hands-free and portable conference calls

  • gregory

    Nice review. I have the Jambox and love it. Great sounds and it’s perfect to take to any room.

  • Jeremys1

    Really great, only problem is that if you use a Mac bluetooth keyboard and a Mac bluetooth track pad – then add the bluetooth Jambox – they do interfere – so given an over abundance of bluetoothiness – a whole mouthful of blueteeth -  it needs connecting by a cable to be reliable…