Jawbone Jambox review

4 out of 5
£159.99

For

Build quality, great sound, portability

Against

Price

Pocket-lint would have to admit to being a little suspicious of the Jawbone Jambox when the postie came knocking on the door, device in hand. Part of this suspicion was to do with its size in relation to the claims of its ability to "deliver such shimmering highs and massive low frequencies that they can literally be felt from feet away", as it really is very small.

The other source of our wariness was the claim by Jawabone that its Jambox was "intelligent", a rather bold statement and one that hinted at a rather over-zealous marketing department.

So could this wireless Bluetooth speaker with speaker phone functionality deliver on the maker's bold claims? Needless to say we've given the Jambox a thorough testing in order to separate the marketing spiel from the device itself...



As suggested above the Jawbone Jambox has very portable dimensions, measuring 151 x 57 x 40mm, with a weight of 347g - meaning it's light enough to carry around in a bag (a pocket would be pushing it) but heavy enough that it feels like a quality piece of kit. In the box you'll get the device itself, as well as two USB cables (different lengths) a 3.5mm jack and a rather svelte sleeve which fits tightly over the Jambox. 

The device itself has a very minimalist design, with just three buttons on the top and Micro-USB, 3.5mm and on/off/pairing switch down the side. The three buttons on top consist of two for volume and a talk button, used to answer and end calls, get battery status and access voice dial.

Materials used consist of a rubberised matte finish for the top and bottom with wire-type mesh wrapping around the middle, and hiding the speakers beneath. The rubberised finish meant that the device had decent grip in the hand and on the desk and wasn't affected by fingerprints, although it did have a tendency to pick up dust.



We have to say that despite our initial reservations, pretty much everything about the Jambox says quality - there are no bends or flexes from the body, and after we tested for unwanted rattles the only discernible noise was from the on/off/pairing switch on the side, this wasn't overly alarming, however, and didn't detract from the overall quality feel. So on first impressions the Jambox impressed: very portable, nice design and a quality feel.

On powering up the device, the Jambox thumps into life and tells you it's ready to go. Bluetooth pairing was also an absolute breeze and we were listening to music within a couple of minutes - more on how pleased we were with the quality of the sound later.

A large part of the Jawbone Jambox "experience" comes from its MyTalk website which allows a degree of customisation for the device, including the ability to choose a range of different voices. These include names like The Bombshell, The Rogue and The Thinker - something which is a bit of fun and may appeal to some.

Perhaps more importantly, the site allows you to update the device, and giving access to voice dial and voice email functions. Some sites of this ilk, which aim to support and update hardware, can be buggy but our experience of MyTalk was good and frustration free.



Moving on to the sound quality and we're pleased to say that the Jambox not only met our expectations but exceeded them - it really is a power house considering its diminutive dimensions. We tested a variety of different music genres, and Jawbone seems to have managed to get a good balance with an excellent all-round sound being produced. The bass, although distinct, doesn't overpower and mid to high ranges are equally audible.

The device in our tests was free from distortion, although at times the voice alerting you to a call was rather loud and jarring - and as you're likely to have your own ringtone going on in the background it can get be a little confusing.

It's all well and good testing the sound when indoors, but we can see this being used in the summer at picnics and the like, so testing this outside was critical. We have to say that sound still maintained much of its indoor clarity and meatiness. We can easily see this being a hit in the park with friends, as despite our tests being outside in the cold, thin air - sound still impressed.

In terms of its battery life, and therefore its usefulness as a portable device, we found it lasted around the makers stated 8 hours. However this is bound to vary depending on the way you're using it.



The trick we found is to make the source device work as hard as possible, meaning the Jambox doesn't have to; turning the source up to maximum meant that we could listen to tunes at low volume on the Jambox whilst retaining music definition. Clearly the quality of the file will make a difference, but feed the Jambox decent content and it'll impress delivering sound comparable to a larger speaker set-up. The speaker phone function was good, if not excellent, and most people we tried it with said we were clear although a little tinny.

So is there anything that can stop this great portable speaker getting Pocket-lint's coveted Hot Product Award? Well, unfortunately, yes. It is, to our mind, a little bit pricey. For the privilege of carting this around for your tunes, you'll be paying £160, if the RRP is anything to go by. As ever the price-point is critical, it's a great piece of kit but that's a lot of cash to lay out for what is essentially a small speaker - although a damn fine one at that.

Verdict

What you get with the Jawbone Jambox is a top-notch portable device which will bang out clear audio and serve as a handy speaker phone. The build quality is there, the design is good enough to appeal to most and it is very easy to set-up and use.

It's the price though, that is the sticking point and although it is clear Jawbone has given a good deal of thought to this product, £160 is a lot of money to ask. As such it's something of a luxury, meaning if you've got the cash we can't help but recommend it.

Hopefully the price will see a drop soon, which will make this an absolute cracking purchase.