Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jambox by Jawbone

** please note: the following is NOT intended as a product review. this is simply an attempt to share my experience of a new gadget. thank you. **

back in 2005 i purchased the JBL OnTour portable speakers, and since then they have been the only speakers that i have used for my iPod, iPhone, and Mac Mini. these, i have to say, have been the best sounding speakers i have ever heard coming from a portable set like these. i’ve taken them to work to enjoy some tunes, and its has traveled with me to North Carolina. its mostly resides under my 23” Cinema Display connected to my Mac Mini as part of my desktop setup.

but recently i have replaced it with something different. mostly due to the fact that portable speakers now-a-days offer so much more than just great sounds. many of them are powered with a rechargeable a battery. they have built-in microphones. they work wirelessly over bluetooth. the replacement is the Jambox by Jawbone.

in the beginning i was very skeptical about the sound quality i would get from a small speaker set. i mean it took a long time for me to decide getting the JBL On Tour. but since purchasing it i have come to truly enjoy Jambox’s portability and wireless convenience. more so i was blown away from the sound quality i got from it.

it took a leap of faith for me after trying to look up as much information about it. i watched dozens of videos, and read more than several articles about Jambox. each time i became more convinced to go ahead and pull the $200 trigger. so one day i decided to stop by my local Best Buy to make the purchase, and since then i have yet to regret it.

upon opening the package i took the time to appreciate how everything was laid out. in the top half the Jambox itself was suspended in crystal clear case as if displayed in a museum (as it should). the bottom half was just as impressive with all the accessories compartmentalized and clearly labeled. among the accessories it came with a USB charger, two different lengths USB to micro USB cables, an aux cable, a carrying case, and instructions.

the first thing i had to do was to charge the Jambox using the micro USB cable and charger it came with. it only took an hour to achieve 80% capacity. with that i proceeded to pair it with my iPhone 3GS. the pairing process was fast and simple. in less than 30 seconds i was enjoying music from my own collection, along with Pandora, SomaFM, Music One, and Shoutcast with better-than-expected sounds.

with respect to the sound quality i would honestly say that the Jambox is not equal to or better than my JBL On Tour with the high’s, but comes pretty damn close.

however, it is a little more bassy. in fact it never ceases to amaze me how much bass the Jambox puts out for such a small devise. the rubber bottom doesn't do a good enough job of keeping it immobile while playing some bass heavy tunes. i have to keep an eye on it that it doesn't “walk” off the ledge of my bookshelf while playing some Music One.

taking phones calls with Jambox is so much better than just using the speakerphone setup with iPhone 3GS alone. the audio coming from the caller is pleasantly clear and loud. even better is that i don’t have to talk loud into it. i can talk less than normal and the caller can hear me just as well.

Jambox does come with three buttons: call, volume up, volume down. the call button not only accepts incoming calls it also doubles as the battery status. there are no visual display on the device itself, so instead when the call button is pressed it presents an audio response from the device informing how much of a charge it has left.

the Jambox is a bluetooth enabled device, but it can accept any audio input using a headphone jack on the side.

along with my iPhone 3GS, i have paired the Jambox with my 2008 Mac Mini - there it serves as part of my desktop setup - and my recently purchased 2011 HP Pavilion g6 laptop.

when first turn on the Jambox greets with a neat “boom” sound. when pairing it to an audio source i get “the voice” - a female speaker that inform me when the Jambox is ready to pair, what the battery status is, and when my phone is receiving a call. when turned off it signs off with a cute tone.

Jawbone gives me an option to change the style of the voice along with updating the firmware. this required me to sign up for a MyTalk account from Jawbone’s site, also i had to download an agent that allows the Jambox to communicate with MyTalk. when the connection is made i can update the firmware, make changes to the Jambox’s setting, and change the voice from an available selection. i chose to change it to a style called Be Retro - a style for those fond of the early 8-bit video games days.

Jawbone recently released a firmware update for the Jambox which includes a new setting call Sound Clarity to address an issue with the audio being unstable, though, i never experienced anything of the such. along with this the update also came with an enhancement called Live Audio that reproduces audio in faux surround sound - which is really impressive!

unfortunately these new settings comes with some sacrifice with the amplification.  the sound's loudness is dramatically decreased when enabled one by one.  so the only way to appreciate both settings enabled is in a quiet room.  admittedly i hardly use Live Audio anyway, partly because i fear that it may impact battery performance, but mostly because my Jambox is used to fill my room with music.

Live Audio can be enabled/disabled simply by holding down both the volume down (-) and volume up (+) simultaneously.  however, Sound Clarity can only be enabled/disabled using MyTalk.  one would think Jawbone would utilize a different button combo to accomplish this like say the call button and volume down button.  oh well.

hopefully Jawbone will address these issues in the next firmware update.

so there it is. my new favorite speakers. small, wireless, portable, good sound, and versatile.


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