JAMBOX Listening Tests and Conclusion
In addition to sounding great, the portability is fantastic. While staying at hotel on the coast of Africa, I took it down to the beach with me, under the palm trees. My buddies and I felt that Jack Johnson's "In Between Dreams" record was the right choice for the decidedly chill scene, and indeed the JAMBOX did not disappoint, providing a perfect soundtrack for our morning on the beach under the palms.
I found the sound quality to be better if there was some distance between me and the JAMBOX. It was surprisingly directional, in that if it was on the desk directly in front of me, the mids and highs seemed to almost mask the amazing low end coming from the rear of the unit. If i positioned it behind my laptop screen, for instance, the sound was diffused a bit and the blend was warmer and more pleasing when listening that close to the unit. I moved it around quite a bit and experimented with different positioning around the room. I found that I enjoyed the sound better when further away from it. The bass seemed more punchy and overall it delivered a richer sound. Placement was very consistent issue. Out on the beach, if the unit faced me on the small table next to my lounge chair, it did not sound as smooth as if pointing away. Back in my room, I always found that it sounded better if placed across the room from where I was seated or working.
In addition to music, built-in Bluetooth allows you to stream music from your iPhone (or other Bluetooth enabled MP3 player), and you can also connect it to your laptop via Bluetooth for Skype calls or music as well. When a call comes in, if you are playing music streaming from your iPhone, the volume lowers automatically so you can answer the call. And you can do that by pressing the round button on top, which connects the call and puts it on the speaker. Voila, you have a speakerphone on your desk that is considerably more robust than that of your Blackberry or iPhone. This functionality also comes into play even if you are not streaming music from your phone. A call came in while sitting at my desk with my iPod hard-wired to the JAMBOX listening to music. SInce my iPhone was still paired with the JAMBOX, it muted the music assuming I would want to answer using the speakerphone function. This was actually quite useful even if I wanted to use the phone to take the call rather than the JAMBOX.
As for the quality of the speakerphone, a test call with my wife had decent sound quality for both me and her, and using it for conference calls was great - I could mute my phone and get plenty of work done on my laptop while listening to the call. It also has some very handy built-in functionality for call management.
The JAMBOX will announce to you when the battery is low. One strange thing I experienced was having the female voice announce that the "battery is low" while I was listening to music. I decided to use the round button on top to get a reading - when pressed it will tell you how much battery. It told me "battery is about half full." Weird, since it just told me it was "low." About 5 minutes later, as I had gone back to business, it again announced that "battery is low." I looked at the power button and it was blinking red, which is an indicator that it is time to charge the battery. Not sure what the discrepancy was about, but I went ahead and used the USB cable to charge it while I left the room for the day.
Another fun feature from Jawbone is MYTALK. After installing the software (via download from the Jawbone website) on my MacBook Air, I chose "Open MYTALK" from the menubar icon and my web browser launched and took me to the site. Here you are prompted to plug in your device and you have the option to personalize and update your JAMBOX. I updated the software with no problem at all (not sure what the latest version added, but everything was smooth).
MYTALK has AudioApps and DialApps for the JAMBOX. The AudioApps allow you to personalize the voice that speaks the caller ID and battery status, etc. I changed the default female voice to "The Ace," which basically sounds like a Bond girl - smoking' hot and confident. You may prefer one of the many other choices, such as The Bombshell, The Hero, The Thinker, etc. Both male and female "characters" are available. The DialApps include several apps to maximize the use of JAMBOX as a speakerphone, allowing you to voice dial, have quick access to your favorite contacts, and even listen to email via your Voice on the Go account.
The JAMBOX allows you to have 2 Bluetooth devices paired to it at a time. You can specify having both devices operational, or either one at a time. An example would be having both my MacBook Air and my iPhone paired, so I could use the speakerphone function with my iPhone, and stream music from my iTunes library on the laptop.
One issue that I noted was that the sound quality of the Bluetooth music stream from the MacBook Air was poor. The fidelity was noticeably worse than if I connected the stereo mini-jack cable to the laptop. In contrast, streaming via Bluetooth from my iPhone sounded excellent. The difference between the laptop stream and the iPhone stream was night and day - it was AM vs. FM sound quality. I posted on the Apple.com boards to see if anyone had experienced this problem, and as of this writing I already have at least one person who is experiencing the same thing. I am not sure if there is a different Bluetooth spec on the laptop vs. the iPhone, or if something like this might be the issue.
The Jawbone JAMBOX is priced at $199.99, which ain't cheap. The problem is, I have not seen anything priced less that can really compete with this product. Plenty of people are happy to drop more than this on a pair of Beats headphones, so think of this the same way - as a higher end, ultra-portable speaker system. The compact size, excellent build quality, and excellent sound quality and functionality make this a product worth spending a few extra bucks on. If you are a traveler who wants some decent sound while in hotel rooms, the JAMBOX is hard to beat.
For more than a decade, Jawbone has produced personal wireless technologies unparalleled in their innovation, ease-of-use and sophistication of design. Jawbone is the creator of the award-winning and best-selling premium ICON Bluetooth headset and the inventor of NoiseAssassin® technology, the world's first and only military-grade noise-eliminating technology. Jawbone delivers products that innovate and improve the mobile lifestyle through ever-changing software and wearability. Privately-held and headquartered in San Francisco.
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The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
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Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
Audioholics Rating Scale
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