Jawbone Jambox Review

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Pros

  • Arguably the best design of any portable
  • Customizing options
  • Good feature set
  • Compact and durable

Cons

  • Only boasts average sound performance

Bottom Line

The fact that you can turn the Jawbone Jambox into your own slice of portable speaker heaven makes this cab stand out from the crowd. While the sound quality can be matched and bettered across several rivals, the overall package of the Jambox is hard to ignore. As is the fact that this speaker in some ways defines the portable niche by being very small, well designed, and a decent performer.


When the Jawbone Jambox landed a few years ago it caused quite a splash with its unique looks, setting it apart from the crowd in a market that is not always aesthetically minded. That said, good looks are one thing, but a poor speaker in a pretty dress is still a poor speaker, so the Jambox has a lot to live up to if it wants to be more than a pretty face. We´ve been using the Jambox pretty extensively since its launch in 2010, and while the design is definitely a factor it also happens to be a very good portable cabinet too.

Hardware

What´s inside the box?

The Jawbone Jambox is certainly packed with goodies, unlike some other bare bones portables that are available. Firstly, the box itself is nice, but that´s not really important in the grand scheme of things. Moving away from the box there is a 60-inch Micro-USB cable, 36-inch 3.5mm Stereo cable, a normal AC charger, and a quick start guide. Jawbone also sells a number of peripherals, including extra or replacement cables and a carrying case.

Design

The reason you have probably heard of the Jambox before is because of its design. Love it or hate it, the speaker has become something of a design icon, especially in the portable niche. It really is amazing what getting a little funky with the front grill can do, because for all intents and purposes the Jambox is just a good old fashioned square cabinet. However, there is much more to this story than first impressions suggest, and to know more you should check out the features part of this review.

Size

One thing you will notice about the Jambox is that it´s positively tiny, even by portable sound system standards. At just 2.25 inches high, 6 inches wide, and 1.5 inches deep this is a puny little thing, although its 12-ounce weight gives it a reassuring weight when in hand.

Build Quality

If you have your very small and customized Jambox in hand, you probably want to know that it is not going to fall apart or crumble to dust after a few knocks. Don´t be fooled, dropping it from your roof is going to leave you with a mess to clean up and no portable speaker, but regular day to day knocks and spills will be dealt with. While not the sturdiest portable we have ever used, the Jambox is suitable enough to meet its on the move requirements.

Features

Where Jawbone set itself apart was in giving customers the ability to customize their speaker in the purchase process, and it is a very slick and concise suite as well. The company has really thrown the kitchen sink at this customizing tool, offering a slew of grill choices (dot, diamond, wave, and hexagonal). Aside from changing up the grill you can choose a color for the grill and either the same or a different hue for the rest of the box. On top of that it is possible to get a waterproof coating for an extra $50 and to even color code any extra cables or cases that you buy.

With all of this you can truly make the Jambox your own, and needless to say there are some really slick combinations available, while you can get as bold or as understated as you want. In terms of design, this suite lifts the Jambox beyond anything else currently available on the portable speaker market.

Aside from this the Jawbone Jambox is one of the most features rich portable Bluetooth sounders available. Hooking the unit up to a PC, users can navigate over to the Jawbone MyTalk website where they will find a load of configuration options for voice calls. Yes, that means the unit has a speaker phone, and it happens to be one of the best available with easy syncing and quality noise cancelling when on calls. Jawbone has also made the Bluetooth compatibility multi-point, so it is possible to connect to more than one device at once, while non-Bluetooth devices can also hook up the old fashioned way… with a wire.

Performance

Sound Quality

The Jawbone Jambox is not an amazing speaker system and sometimes the quality is average at best. However, when discussing one of the most popular speakers on the market, a statement like that needs to be explained. In terms of its tiny dimensions, the Jambox sounds really good, and the fact that it can fill a sizeable space with decent quality tones is testament to its powerhouse innards. However, if you are willing to have a bigger footprint and not necessarily have to lay down more cash, then there are better sounding Bluetooth speakers out there. That said, there is no denying for what it is the Jambox is a quality sounder, but not enough to merit the price tag perhaps.

Let´s be honest though, most people buying small portables are not in the business of dissecting audio quality and are for the most part happy with a functional box that looks cool. The Jambox fits tidily into that market, but be warned that its price tag is to do with its looks, not its sound. Equally, those larger speakers with higher quality don´t have the speaker phone functionality of the Jawbone product, and on that front we have nothing but praise for how the Jambox handled sound quality on incoming calls.

Connectivity

Connecting the Jawbone Jambox is a doddle thanks to an easy pairing process that is completed with an audible beep on the device when syncing is finished (it takes seconds). Bluetooth connectivity on the speaker is good for thirty or forty feet, but that of course depends on how many obstructions you have in the room.

Battery Life

Jawbone is touting 8-10 hours of battery life from the Jambox, and after using the portable quite a bit we can confirm that is spot on. Of course, that puts it firmly in the average pile in terms of battery life, which is at least acceptable without being outright impressive.

Conclusion

Built on a fantastic design foundation, the Jambox is not the best sounding portable speaker on the market, but after spending some time with the unit we don´t think that is what Jawbone is even aiming for. Instead the company has crafted an ultra-slick speaker that is tiny enough to carry anywhere and comes with the ability to add a personal touch. Audiophiles will look elsewhere, but for the rest of us, this is an interesting option.

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