The package references boom boxes from the 1980s.

The package references boom boxes from the 1980s.

There’s a micro USB jack and an audio jack for wired listening.

There are only three buttons: Two for volume, and a status button. When you push it, a woman’s voice tells you if the device is charging, ready to be paired, low on battery, etc.

The wired audio cable is a nice touch -- it’s flat, for easier storage, and comes in the same color as the device (which itself comes in four different colors).

The wired audio cable is a nice touch -- it’s flat, for easier storage, and comes in the same color as the device (which itself comes in four different colors).

The wired audio cable is a nice touch -- it’s flat, for easier storage, and comes in the same color as the device (which itself comes in four different colors).

The wired audio cable is a nice touch -- it’s flat, for easier storage, and comes in the same color as the device (which itself comes in four different colors).

The wired audio cable is a nice touch -- it’s flat, for easier storage, and comes in the same color as the device (which itself comes in four different colors).

The wired audio cable is a nice touch -- it’s flat, for easier storage, and comes in the same color as the device (which itself comes in four different colors).

Co.Design

Hands On: Jawbone's Brand New Portable Bluetooth Jambox

Jawbone, the makers of the famed Bluetooth headset of the same name, have just unveiled its newest product: the $199 Jawbone Jambox, a portable Bluetooth speaker and speaker phone. Co.Design played with the Jambox last week, and we've got pictures of the unboxing above, impressions and video below.

The looks may seem like the main draw, but the first thing you notice when you turn on the Jambox is that the bass hits. For such a small device, it's almost uncanny -- at full volume, you can feel the bass on the palm of your hand from almost two feet away.

"At this size, we're boxing in a higher weight class," Jawbone's CEO, Hosain Rahman, told Co.Design. The big booming bass is the product of some very clever engineering. Usually, to drive bass you need a large speaker case, for enclosing a big speaker cone that can vibrate like crazy and push a lot of air. Obviously, that wasn't an option in a portable speaker the size of a half-dozen Hershey's bars. So instead, the engineers at Jawbone used the battery of the device like a speaker cone.

See, the battery is the heaviest element inside the device. Since it's relatively heavy, it can push a lot of air when it vibrates, just like a big speaker cone usually would. So the engineers placed the battery on a rubber diaphragm, to allow it to do just that. Thus, the battery becomes an actual moving element of the speaker, driving bass.

Additionally, the glass enclosure inside the device, behind the case, is airtight to preserve the sound quality -- a feature that Jawbone claims no other speaker near this price point has. "That's not happening in any speaker that's not thousands of dollars," says Rahman. "But it means that we didn't have to grow the device to get both loudness and bass."

But obviously, the first thing you notice are the looks -- the case was designed by the company's chief creative officer, Yves Béhar (who also designed the Jawbone headset). The top and bottom are rubberized, to give you a no-slip grip when toting it around or setting in down on random surfaces. The wire-mess enclosure is a single piece that wraps around the body, to save materials. The mesh is also printed in four distinct patterns, which feel of a piece with the Jawbone headset itself.

The Jambox makes obvious sense as a pairing partner to an iPhone or an iPad, devices that can become legitimate music sources when paired with the right speaker. But for business types who swear by their headsets, the device also acts as a speakerphone. It's also loaded up with the same firmware as the Jawbone headset -- meaning that it can use all of the third party apps developed on the MyTalk platform, ranging from one that reads out your text messages and email to another for VOIP calling.

The Jambox is available now for pre-order, for $199, and will be available at Apple Stores and Best Buy outlets starting November 16.

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5 Comments

  • samgreene

    Hi there 'Skidpalace'.  I recently got this thing.  Maybe you missed it in my comments, but I had quoted another unknown source.  This was a legitimate complaint - distortion in the audio, unrelated to any cocaine consumption.  Since my purchase of the jammy on sale for $150, I've been pretty happy with it.  One thing that bugs me is that the status sound for it is LOUD.  The music can be very quiet and you press the volume up button and BEEP.  Kinda jarring.  The sound is quite a bit better than the iPhone.  It's no Hi-Fi, but it's pretty darn cool for what it is!

  • Skidpalace

    Sam and Dave, put down the crack pipe.  You cannot seriously believe that there is no sound difference between the Jambox and your iPhone.  It is an amazing piece of hardware.  Don't forget to go into MyTalk with the Jambox connected and turn off Sound Clarity and Live Audio under Advanced Settings.
    This thing produces legit sound, and doubles a portable wireless noise cancelling speaker/conference phone.  Very slick.  $200 slick?  Mmmm, no, but slick nonetheless.

  • Sam Greene

    "
    Downloaded the updates etc, even putting the volume up to max, produces little more sound, than when I get sound through my Ipad, or Iphone."  Supposedly that issue has been fixed with another firmware update.

  • David-k

    Don't waste your money. I bought Jambox and it's the worst product I have ever bought for such a high price.
    Downloaded the updates etc, even putting the volume up to max, produces little more sound, than when I get sound through my Ipad, or Iphone.
    What's the point! There is slightly higher volume using the stereo cable, and yes I have the sound level up full volume on the Ipad and Iphone.
     
    Back to using Creative Lab speakers, they are the very best..