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A year or so ago we went on a cruise around the coast of Turkey on a gulet. We had a great time and were lucky to enjoy good company. The evenings we spent chatting and listening to music; one of the passengers had a Bluetooth battery-powered speaker that he fed music from his iPhone.
The device he had was the Bose Soundlink. The sound quality was superb: more than loud enough and with a good deep bass sound that was quite remarkable for the size of the device. However, relatively small as it was it was still quite large and, when you picked it up, quite heavy. When I checked it out on the Web it also turned out to be quite expensive at well over £200, even with the best offer I could find.
This year we went on another cruise, this time down the coast of Croatia. Although I didn't especially expect to be the music provider for this trip, I felt it would be nice to be able to sit out on the sun deck, my wife and I, and listen to some of our favourite music, fed from the extensive library on my Nokia mobile.
What I really wanted was something with a comparable sound quality to the Bose but in a smaller package and at a lower price. Weight is a big issue when you consider that the normal (normal except for Thomas Cook, whose weight limits are laughable) baggage limits of most travel companies.
I started researching on the Web and was amazed to find the number of these devices on the market. I read many reviews but then decided I could only choose based on my own experience. So, I simply set out to tour the local stores looking for these various devices, pairing them up with up with my Nokia and playing them in store.
I was amazed at the range of sound quality from quite different devices; neither size nor price seemed to bear much relevance. However, the one I kept coming back to was the Jawbone Jambox. This diminutive device, a fraction of the size of the Bose and less than half the price, never ceased to amaze. In all the reviews I had read it got the big thumbs up.
The normal price for the Jambox is quite high but everywhere it seemed to be substantially discounted to just over £100. However, in out local Currys I found one on offer at under £100 if I was prepared to take a white version. I really didn't care what colour it was so I took it.
The Jambox is about five inches long, an inch wide and about an inch and half tall. It is a stereo speaker but the sound seems to come out equally in every direction! On top are three buttons: two control the sound level; the third is for pairing the speaker as a speaker-phone for your mobile for conferencing.
On the side is a slide switch which turns the device on and off and, when held in the fully up position for three seconds, sets up Bluetooth pairing with your music feed device; a voice announces that it is awaiting pairing. You then just turn on Bluetooth on your feed device and select the Jambox, and away you go.
Below the switch is a standard jack socket and a long flat double-ended jack lead is provided in order to connect devices that are not Bluetooth enabled. This is also a good choice if you want to prolong the battery life of your mobile by switching off the Bluetooth, so long as you aren't too far away. The lowest socket is to recharge the device from the provided USB charger and lead. I got many, many hours of use out of the Jambox before I found I needed to recharge it.
You also get a protective sleeve for carrying it around. This collapses flat when not in use so takes up very little space.
The sound quality has to be heard to be believed. The most astonishing thing is the bass level and quality out of a box so small. Sound levels can go up quite high enough to fill a room. If you place the device close to a solid surface, you also get extra sound reflected from the rear of the device.
We used the Jambox a lot whilst we were away but, since returning home I mostly use it connected to my laptop. Although the HP Pavilion has Beats Audio, which is better than the usual sound you get out of a standard laptop, the Jambox beats (sorry) it hands down. I'm sitting here listing to Keane's Strangeland on Spotify as I type this review.
Jawbone (The Product)
The Jawbone Jambox is a wireless speaker that can be plugged into most portable devices that have a bluetooth connection. It can be used with non-bluetooth devices, but not wirelessly. The speaker is small measuring Just 151mm in length, 40mm in width and 57mm in height and weighs in at 347grams. The speaker is made mainly from stainless steel and moulded rubber making it lightweight, portable and hard to break.
It's available in Black Diamond, Blue Wave, Grey Hex and Red Dot where the name describes the colour and the texture that is recessed into the front of the speaker. In my opinion the Jawbone jambox is extremely sleek and stylish and well made.
The jawbone has just 3 buttons on the top. An on/off button and two volume control buttons shaped like a plus and minus (up and down), It is easily connected via blutooth using the search and connect functions on the device being used. I recently rented a house with some friends and tried this speaker out with a selection of phones and laptops and the speaker worked perfectly.
The speaker communicates with a voice to tell you that it is turned on, or connected to a bluetooth device. The voice certainly sounds a little raunchy in my opinion, but is clear and easy to understand.
The bluetooth has a decent range of up to 33 feet so is perfect for use around the house. It is charged via an AC wall adaptor or using a USB connection on a laptop or desktop PC.
The battery life can last for up to 10 hours without charging which is exceptional for a portable speaker.
Jawcrushing (Sound Quality)
The sound quality is by far the best I have heard from a portable speaker. The high frequency (tweeter) and low frequency (woofer) sounds are far superior to other portable speakers I have owned and used and it is easy turn a portable music device into a decent stereo system easily using this. The sound is full and rounded and has none of the tinny feel of may small speakers. The jawbone jambox can produce up to 85dB (decibels) which is comparable with standing 25m from a train (yes I looked that up) so is pretty much suitable for all uses apart from raves, festivals and nightclubs.
Jawbreaking (The Price)
At £118 jawbeakingly expensive pounds the Jawbone Jambox is very expensive for a portable speaker. Thats the current price on Amazon, but this can increase to around £150 from other suppliers. As a device intended for travelling as it is portable I get extremely worried about loosing it. It's Ok for hotels or proper holidays, but for backpacking I wouldn't dream of carrying it about.
The speaker is small, portable, easy to use and has totally Jawsome sound quality. Despite this the price is a bit over the top and I'd recommend trying out some cheaper brands before buying this. If you want the best, go for this.
JAMBOX delivers stunning hi-fi audio in a portable wireless speaker so compact you won't believe it when you hear it. It's loud. With an output capacity of 85 decibels, JAMBOX fills even the largest rooms. Unlike other portable speakers, JAMBOX is powered by a pair of proprietary, highly sophisticated acoustic drivers, unmatched in their ability to produce extreme high (tweeter) and low (woofer) frequencies from a single, ultra-small dome speaker. They work in concert with an innovative moving-wall passive bass radiator and airtight enclosure to deliver shimmering highs and thumping lows that you can literally feel - the richest sound all in the palm of your hand.