Jawbone Jambox rocks the tunes and the conference calls (review)

Summary:Jawbone makes excellent Bluetooth headsets and is expanding into the speaker and health markets. The Jambox is one of the best portable speakers I have ever heard.

I have purchased a few of the Jawbone headsets in the past since I found them to be extremely high quality and thus when I heard that the Jawbone folks launched a wireless speaker I knew I had to give it a try. The Jambox comes in four colors and designs and I was sent a black diamond one to test out for a bit. The wireless speaker is great for listening to tunes and also for serving as a conference calling speakerphone. You can check out several photos of the device in my image gallery along with a hands-on video and my experiences with the device below.


Image Gallery: Check out several photos of the Jawbone Jambox.
Image Gallery: Case on the Jambox
Image Gallery: Jambox controls

In the box and first impressions

As you can see in my image gallery, the Jambox comes in a large cardboard box with a boom box image on the outside. Inside you will find the Jambox, 60 inch microUSB charging cable, 12.5 inch microUSB charging cable, 36 inch 3.5mm stereo cable, carrying case, A/C wall charger, and User Guide.

I was a bit surprised by the small size of the speaker after opening the top of the box. It definitely feels like a $200 speaker too with solid construction and a dense feel to it.

Specifications

There are a few key specifications that may be of interest to you, including:
  • Built-in microphone
  • Bluetooth 2.1 radio
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • microUSB port
  • Output level of 85db at 0.5m
  • Frequency response of 60 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Battery life of about 10 hours of continuous play
  • Dimensions of 151 x 57 x 40 mm and 347 grams (12 ounces)
  • Four available colors and front designs: black diamond, blue wave, grey hex, and red dot

Walk around the hardware

The front and back have the same screen design and you can really only tell which is the front by looking through the screen to see the speakers. There is nothing on the left side or the bottom.

On the right side you will find the on/off switch, 3.5mm headset jack, and microUSB port. You slide the on/off switch up to turn on the speaker and if you slide up and hold it then you can put the speaker into pairing mode where the light around it will flash red and white.

On the top of the speaker you will find three buttons for increase volume, decrease volume, and the Talk button. The Talk button is used to answer and end calls. During a call you can press and hold the plus and minus buttons at the same time for 2 seconds and then hear the "mute on" words spoken by the speaker. The light of the on/off switch will also glow red. You can also voice dial through a compatible phone by holding the talk button for about 3 seconds.

Daily usage and experiences

We setup a movie viewing experience in my living room with a projector, DVD player, and the Jambox and it was a great experience. I also used the Jambox quite a bit while working to play the audio from my smartphones. I made a few calls with it as well to test out that feature.

Shortly after I received the evaluation unit, Jawbone released the Jambox 2.1 software update that added LiveAudio for a richer sound experience. The maximum volume went down a bit, but the sound was better IMHO. Many people complained about the reduction in sound so an update was made that lets you toggle LiveAudio on and off by pressing and holding the plus and minus buttons while you are streaming audio.

You don't need a Bluetooth device to use the Jambox either and can simply use the 3.5mm cable to connect an audio device with the speaker.

Like the latest Jawbone headsets, there is support for MyTalk in the Jambox so you can customize your experience a bit. As you can see in my video I switched the Jambox to Classic Arcade mode to bring back the memories of my youth. You can change the voice and tone with MyTalk. You can also try out dial apps on the Jambox so make sure to check out the MyTalk page for more.

Pricing and availability

The Jawbone Jambox is available for $199.99 on the Jawbone site and at various online and brick-and-mortar retailers. I have seen it for about $25 less online at sites like Buy.com too so you may want to shop around before picking one up.

Topics: Hardware, Networking

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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