Review: Jammin' With Jawbone's Big Jambox

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$270 More info from brand

Written by Tony Ibrahim     29/10/2012 | 02:13 | Category name i.e.ACCESSORIES

Sound. Loud sound. Beefy sound. Clear sound. Sound that you can take with you. Sound from your smartphone, tablet or mp3 player. Sound that looks great. This is what Jawbone's Big Jambox delivers and a little bit more.

It's a wireless Bluetooth speaker that's grown three times in size since we first met the original Jambox in 2010. It looks like it's grown into its body, with its flavoured grilles covering it from edge to edge, bar some rubber buttons up-top and some more rubber on its sides. On the bottom are eight 'strategically placed' rubber feet that stop the speaker skidding around when the volume is amped.


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The Big Jambox comes in three colours—red, white and grey—and each one models its own unique grill. At 1.2 kilograms, it's not as 'portable' as its smaller sibling (or some of its rivals), but it's still easy enough to handle with one hand and the added bulk conjures a sense of premium craftsmanship, which is something traditionally absent from portable speakers.

Bluetooth smartphones, tablets, computers and mp3 players can connect and play tunes to the Big Jambox. The Big Jambox will remember up to eight devices, of which two can be paired at the same time, playing music concurrently. It's a great idea that allows two people to share their music library at any one event with no hassles.

Pairing a device with the Big Jambox is very easy. A dedicated Bluetooth button subtly resides on its side, and once you press it for a few seconds, it'll communicate it's in pairing mode through a flashing light and by saying "Big Jambox is in pairing mode." It then plays some music during the interim.

If you're using a smartphone to play music on the Big Jambox and you get a phone call, don't sweat. The Big Jambox has an omni-direction (360°) microphone capable of clearly picking up who is talking at any time. This adds some functionality to the Big Jambox, allowing it to be used during conference calls…but we doubt most of them will end up in offices.


Jawbone's MyTalk software platform—which can be used to download apps, software updates and other customisable features—is compatible with the Big Jambox.

On top are rubberised function buttons that in no way tax the charm of the Jambox. These include play/pause, previous, next, volume up, volume down and a button marked 'J'. This button communicates how much battery life is left in the Big Jambox, breaking it down into full, 3 quarters full, half full and a quarter full.

On its side, beneath the power and pairing buttons are three ports. The first is a standard 3.5mm auxiliary (great for devices that don't have Bluetooth), a micro USB port reserved for firmware updates and a proprietary charging port. Charging the Big Jambox with the proprietary port takes an estimated 2.5 hours, or if you've forgotten it elsewhere, you can resort to the microUSB port but be warned: that's an overnight project.


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Once charged, the Big Jambox will belt out sounds for 15 hours, or will last 500 hours on standby.

Connect your smartphone or any device with a Bluetooth pulse and the Big Jambox will rise to the occasion, valiantly punching out tunes to fill any room with lively atmosphere. It'll dynamically handle various genres and tends to the soundstage evenly. Admittedly, it's no state of the art system, but it surprises for a portable speaker, marrying bodied audio with fidelity for a great experience, wherever you are.

Surprisingly the Big Jambox is worth its $359 price tag, even if it is steep for a portable speaker. A part of me wishes it was cheaper because it's one product that deserves many, many homes.


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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Great design; Excellent sound; Long lasting battery life;

Cons:

At $359 it nudges portable speakers that connect via WiFi or Wireless direct.