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Gadling Gear Review: Jawbone Jambox Portable Speaker

The Jawbone Jambox portable speaker systemA few years back the Bluetooth portable speaker market was a small one that mainly consisted of tiny, underpowered speakers with mediocre sound. Then along came the original Jambox by Jawbone and consumers realized it was possible to get high quality sound in a small, yet stylish, package. Since then, the company has continued to refine the product, offering new features and updates. Their latest innovation even allows customers to personalize the look of their Jambox by selecting from literally hundreds of different color patterns.

Starting tomorrow, Jambox customers are invited to Remix their speakers by selecting from a variety of grill colors and styles, and matching them with their choice of body color. This allows you to choose exactly how your Jambox will look and gives you the option to create one using the colors of your favorite sports team, alma mater or what ever else appeals. The process is fun, easy and doesn't add any additional costs to the Jambox's $199 price. Once you've selected your personal look, Jawbone will custom build your Jambox and ship out in about a week.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the new Remix process and after spending a little time on the Jawbone website, I was able to order my own custom Jambox. It took just a few days to get it in my hands and like previous models, the speaker features great build quality and sounds fantastic. The diminutive device is just 6 inches in length and weighs about 12 ounces, which makes it an excellent travel companion. An included soft case helps to keep the speaker well protected when not in use.
Jawbone Jambox RemixFor those who haven't used a wireless speaker like the Jambox before, it pairs via Bluetooth with your smartphone, tablet or laptop and allows you to stream audio from any source. That means you can listen to music, podcasts, movies or just about anything else. Considering its size, the Jambox is capable of putting out an impressively big sound and it can easily fill a room with your favorite tunes. While putting the device through its paces, I enjoyed listening to Pandora, Last.fm and Spotify, both at home and on the go, and was constantly impressed with how loud and clear the audio was. In fact, be careful when using it for the first time. When I started jamming tunes on mine it actually scared the heck out of my cat.

The Jambox has built in voice cues that are actually quite helpful. For instance, it'll let you know when it has powered on, when it's in discovery mode for Bluetooth pairing and even how much battery life remains. The pre-programmed voice works well, but Jambox users can download a number of other unique voices from the Jawbone MyTalk website. MyTalk also has some installable apps to extend the functionality of your Jambox, and when connecting to the site, it'll even check to be sure you're running the most recent firmware.

As if being a great portable sound system wasn't enough, the Jambox also works as a hands free speakerphone too. While testing it in this mode, calls were clear both on my end and those that I was chatting with, which isn't always the case with similar speakers from competitors. Speakerphone mode not only works with your favorite cellphone, but also Skype, Facetime and just about anything else that uses a microphone. A round button on top of the device not only activates the mic but also grants access to Siri.

All in all, the Jambox is a great portable speaker that travelers will love to have with them. Its ability to wirelessly play back audio of just about any type makes it a great option for entertainment on the go and its ability to act as a quality speakerphone is a welcome addition. With a battery life of about ten hours, you won't need to worry about charging it often and its rugged construction makes it more than road ready. The fact that you can now order one custom built in your favorite colors is simply icing on the cake. It makes an already excellent product even better.

Filed under: Gear, Gadling Gear Review

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