Jul 28 AT 9:37 PM Clark Wimberly 28 Comments

Let’s start off with a poll: how many of you use that trick of cupping your hand behind your phone to slightly increase the volume? I find myself doing it just about every time I watch a YouTube video or try to listen to something without headphones. There are some things our phones simply cannot do. Like play loud sounds. Enter the Jawbone JAMBOX.

The JAMBOX is a small speaker capable of making big noises. It can hook to your device via Bluetooth or a standard 3.5mm audio cable, runs about 12 hours on its rechargeable battery, and produces the loudest and cleanest sound I’ve yet to find in a portable speaker.

In my month or so of testing, we’ve used this speaker at the pool, on a camping trip, while working out, on the patio- almost anywhere we need some background music, this guy can do the trick.

The Good

Big sound in a tiny (and awesome) package: The JAMBOX produces amazingly big sound from a form factor smaller than a can of soda. Inside, there is a pair of proprietary acoustic drivers and a bass radiator, making for nice highs and solid lows. Aside from its trim size, the styling on these things is absolutely unbeatable. They’ll look just as comfortable on your desk as it would in a futuristic sci-fi movie.

Build quality: One of the first things you’ll notice when handling the JAMBOX is its weight. The second is the texture and quality of materials. The entire package is amazingly well built, including the giant plus and minus buttons on top that make controlling volume a breeze.

It gets better: Connect the JAMBOX to MyTalk, a service provided by Jawbone, to find all the latest updates and personalizations at the touch of a button. You can change the startup and shutdown noises, install new voice-activated apps, and most importantly, make sure your JAMBOX is up to date. How many speakers do you know that are capable of a firmware upgrade that actually add features after purchase?

Color and style options: This may seem like a small one, but time has taught us that color options can play a big role when it comes to purchasing decisions. Jawbone offers the JAMBOX in a variety of color and mesh finishes, as well as a steady stream of limited edition releases (for you ultra-exclusive collectors out there).

The Not-So-Good

Bluetooth leaves something to be desired: While the Bluetooth performs fairly well, I most often find myself playing music over the 3.5mm audio jack. While it usually works just fine, Bluetooth pairing can sometimes take a few extra seconds or can drop off for no reason, but that’s more of a knock on Bluetooth in general than the JAMBOX itself.

In a perfect world, it’d be louder: Despite producing amazing sound for its size, I wouldn’t mind a few more decibels. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great and I know a speaker of this size can only get so loud, but I sometimes found myself wanting to turn the volume to 11. It’s fine for a party with close friends, but it might be a tad underpowered for a full-blown house party. For that, I’d recommend taking a look at the BIG JAMBOX .

Price: The MSRP is $199, and while you can find it online for around $175, it might be too much for some more casual budgets. To be fair, there aren’t a ton of speakers this loud and this small to compare it to, but I still feel like some of you are going to rate it as a bit steep.

The Final Word

If you’re in the market for a speaker that’s as loud as it is stylish and portable, the JAMBOX is for you. If portability and style aren’t at the top of your list, you might find more bang with something like a Sonos system. Either way, if you’ve got the budget, you really can’t go wrong when buying a speaker that’s worth almost as much as your device itself- they’re all going to be loud and nasty.

The JAMBOX really excels in the details. From the box, to the boot-up noise, to the buttons- it’s pure class all the way.

The Jawbone JAMBOX is available on Amazon in a variety of configurations and prices.

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Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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