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JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker retail package
I purchased my red Nokia Lumia 920 after figuring out that the optical image stabilization in video mode was enough to push me over the edge. In addition to having the top Windows Phone 8 device, Nokia is positioning themselves as the and for the last week I have been using the JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker. It is a very good speaker accessory that also supports the wireless charging capability of the Lumia line. With NFC as well, it's a very simple process to get up and running with the JBL PowerUp speaker.
I tested out several different speaker options in 2012, see my, and am still pleased with my Nokia Play 360 speakers. The JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker (referred to as the JBL in rest of review) provides charging with the Qi standard so devices like the HTC Droid DNA charge up on top as well. I didn't expect the box to be as large as it was, but then again the speaker is fairly large at 115 x 280 x 145 mm and 1590 grams. You can purchase the speaker for $299.99 in black, cyan, and white and as you can see in the photos the black one was sent along for me to test out for a bit.
Inside the package you will find the speaker and the A/C adapter to power it up. There is no carrying case since this is not a wireless, portable speaker and is designed to be placed on your desk. Like I said on a recent MoTR podcast, while many people think that NFC means mobile payments I personally think of using NFC for easy connectivity and sharing. I love that you can simply tap the Nokia Lumia 920 to the JBL and have the pairing connection all setup without any further steps required. The JBL uses Bluetooth 2.1 to connect to your Nokia Lumia after the NFC connection is made. You can also connect via Bluetooth without using NFC. While NFC is a nice addition to the JBL, the real advantage of purchasing this over other speakers is the Qi charging capability. It is great to set your Lumia 920 on top and listen to music while your device charges up.
There is a raised rubber circle around the Nokia logo on top in the center to help hold your device in place. As you place your Lumia on top of the JBL, the four corners around the Qi charging area light up in white to help you place your device properly. When the JBl is powered on you will also see that the volume up and down, back, forward, and play/pause buttons all light up on the top towards the front of the speaker. A blue light turns on around the Bluetooth indicator button on the front of the JBL when you have a connection established. You can press the Bluetooth button to help make Bluetooth connections when NFC is not used as well.
On the back you will find the DC in port with the power button located to the left. A microUSB port is present for software updates when you connect to a PC and a 3.5mm headset jack so you can make wired connections to the speaker if you do not want to use Bluetooth. aptX is also supported so you get higher quality audio performance and I have to say the speaker sounded great with my Nokia Lumia 920. Audio became a bit distorted when I cranked the volume up all the way, but I would not use it at that volume level anyway so I wasn't concerned about that. Maximum output is stated at 94 dB.
The JBL is a rather expensive accessory, available at AT&T for $299.99, and I would only recommend you consider it if you have a device that supports the Qi charging standard. While it is a solid speaker, I think it is priced too high to just use as a Bluetooth speaker. I like the Nokia Play 360 for Bluetooth NFC speakers since they give me the ability to more widely separate the two channels and enhance my listening experience. You can buy the JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker from Nokia, from your wireless carrier, other online vendors, and at retail electronics stores.
Related ZDNet coverage
Top of the JBL
Nokia Lumia 920 mounted on the JBL
Back button and ports
Rubber feet and product info
Enjoying music with the JBL while charging the Lumia 920