Travel speakers are lot like Bluetooth headsets: Just a smaller, less-satisfying approximation of the real thing. So leave it to Jawbone to design a pocket-sized Bluetooth boombox that actually kinda rocks.
Sure the headset maker knows how to create crisp, intimate sound — they’re responsible for the best earring-aids we’ve ever tested. But that’s in-ear. So needless to say, we weren’t expecting this bedside speaker-box to muster decent, let alone kick-ass sound. Boy, were we wrong. We blasted everything from raucous punk and “indie rock” to mellow folk and classical, and were pretty jazzed by the output and dynamic range pumping from this little 12-ouncer. The biggest surprise: legit bass (as evidenced by Dead Prez’s “Hip-Hop,” on repeat).
Of course the Jambox isn’t a replacement for a full-fledged — albeit larger — dock capable of stereo-separation. This guy is meant for a bedroom or hotel room — but not the Presidential Suite. Still, the respectable 85 decibels with a frequency response of 60 Hz – 20 kHz is just the beginning. This “Bluebox” system has phenomenal range: We clocked a good 40 feet between the device and our phone, without any signal problems. Pairing was a breeze. An internal mic transforms the box into a not-half-horrible speakerphone. And visually, designer Yves Béhar imbues the Jambox with an elegant minimalism that’s eye-catching, but not distracting.
By far, the most impressive aspect of the Jambox is its marathon battery life. After four days of intermittent iPhone streaming — up to four hours at a time — our battery was still reading “about 3/4 full.” Coaxing more than 11 hours (with juice to spare) from a device that claims a max of eight hours, we can’t help but reiterate just how thrilling it can be when a device, quite literally, out-performs expectation. Which is about as rare as a double rainbow.
(Photos by Jon Snyder for )