If you're at all like me, when heading up to the roof with a bottle of Prosecco and two champagne flutes, the last thing you have a free hand for is a cumbersome speaker. Which is too bad, because how else can you strike the right mood without the romantic, otherworldly sounds of Roy Orbison? But a new set of sound products are becoming increasingly mobile, designed to take with you anywhere like your smartphone and wallet.
Toward this end, Jawbone today unveiled the Mini Jambox, the smallest version of its popular speaker products. Like the original Jambox and its larger brother, the Mini features nine colors in a handful of hypnotically geometric patterns. But the most differentiating factor is naturally the device's size: While created for portability, the tiny package also packs a sonic punch. "We're seeing more and more people bringing speakers with them," says Travis Bogard, VP of product management at Jawbone. "[Mini Jambox] weighs less than a can of Red Bull and can actually fit into a clutch purse."
To be sure, the original Jambox was also designed for mobility. But with its heft and sharp corners, the device often proved too bulky, especially when trying to fit it into your pocket. Jawbone developed the Mini to be brought to where consumers are actually listening to music: in parks, backyard BBQs, or on vacation trips. Jambox Mini is solid yet compact, like a slim box of movie theater candy. Designed in collaboration with Yves Béhar, the device is chiseled down from a single block aluminum, a more malleable material that enables a wider range of textures, with slight extrusions that provide a smooth tactile experience. "When we were designing it, we were trying different sizes so you could put it in your back pocket and more easily carry it around," Bogard says.
Audiophiles will likely debate the sound quality, but to the average ear, the sound range will be more than sufficient, especially for the $179 price tag. It's yet another example of smaller products designed for wireless, on-the-go sound. As HTC complained about in a recent ad, consumers are tired of hearing poor sound ripping through mobile devices; its HTC One was thus designed with built-in amplifiers. The product was produced with support from Beats Electronics, which last year released the Beats Pill, another Jambox competitor that featured rounded corners so it could slip nicely into your pocket.
Bogard, however, believes the Jambox is better suited for mobile consumption. "The Pill doesn't quite fit into your pocket—it's this big rounded thing," he says, pointing out how carrying or pressing a rounded object against a square device, like an iPhone, isn't ideal. "If you think about the ergonomics of grabbing these things, you don't want to have a flat surface against a round surface, with different more oblong shapes. The Jambox form factor fits together with [a smartphone] in your hand [or pocket], so you can hold it as one piece. It's something that could end up being the deciding factor in whether you take it with you or not."
Moreover, Bogard explains, the color and textures could help set Mini Jambox apart from Beats products. "When someone shows up to dinner or to hang out at the park with the Prosecco," he says, "you'll pull this out, and it'll be a reflection of your taste."