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.