Jul 28 AT 9:37 PM Clark Wimberly 29 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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  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    So where is the giveaway ;-)

    • teecruz

      same I say.

      Definitely have been wanting a Jawbone for a while now. Jawbone JAMBOX, I mean. :)

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  • Shay D. Life

    I’ve had one of these for a while and refuse to part with it. I’m not sure if you’re aware but you can update the firmware and change quite a few settings through the website and a desktop application. http://mytalk.jawbone.com/jb2/mytalk/?1

  • MoSDeeb

    I’ve been looking into the jam box for some time now. Still unsure how useful this is day to day. Although it would be great for use when at park or something similar

    • Keith A.

      Here are some of the moments I have used it:
      1. Outside bar-b-queing
      2. At the pool side
      3. Sitting on the deck
      4. Playing love songs for my lady one night at a hotel
      5. At home in the kitchen
      6. At the park

      • Keith A.

        I forgot one…connected the jambox to my laptop and watched a movie

        • kazahani

          OMG i didnt even think about that! I want it now….

  • Jonathan A.

    Definitely check out the Big Blue Live from Brookstone, the sound isn’t as loud as the Jawbone, but its only $99, same portable bluetooth speaker concept

  • rpras

    Cupping my hand behind the phone trick? Hmm, let’s see-ever since I got my Nexus One. I do it with my Galaxy Nexus too.

    Jambox appears very nice but a little too expensive. I just got myself a Satechi Audio Cube and for the price (about $40) I have no complaints.

  • Gekko

    we bought the Jambox and returned it. volume and sound quality was poor. volume was really poor.

    the Bose SoundLink blows it away. yes i know it’s $100 more but so worth it.

    do yourself a big favor – BEFORE you buy the Jambox – go test out the Bose SoundLink.

    • Keith A.

      I had the same problem with my first purchase. Returned it for another and have had no problems since.

    • epps720

      I love my Jambox, think quality of sound and build is fantastic. If you want to compare the sound link you have to compare it to the Big Jambox (I have not had the opportunity to do so). One great feature of the Jambox is if you have it paired through your phone it also acts like a speakerphone. Jambox also has a much better battery than the Soundlink.

      Btw – shouldn’t this review have been done like 6 months ago…little dated already!

  • thel0nerang3r

    Regarding bluetooth, I have a soundbar that has bluetooth connectivity. It works.. for about 40 minutes at a time. Then it drops. I need to power the speakers off and back on, and it works again for 40 minutes. I’ve used 3 devices with the same results. I concur with your experience of unexpected drop offs.

  • Nathan D.

    That a bit of a steep price for something that little, but then again look at the head phones of skull candies or beats audio.

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Homncruse

      And in all the above examples, you’re paying a significant premium for the name alone.

  • tomguycot

    I’d have to agree that these things are awesome. I picked one up at the end of June to use as a speaker for my nightstand (there don’t seem to be any particularly good Android docks) and I really love it. For such a small set of speakers the sound really is amazing.

    Also, as an aside about the price I was able to get my local Sprint store to knock it down to $150 by buying it with a case for my phone. I had to specifically ask for the discount but still, shaving $50 off made it a pretty awesome deal.

  • Jorge Vieira

    I do want one of these, but I have my Monster Clarity HD its a couple years old now but it was way ahead of its time. It doesn’t have the battery life of the jawbone (12 compared of 5) but my Clarity is actually louder than the jawbone at least the one I tested and you can find them online for 50-70 bucks. But this jawbone does have all the extra bells and whistles.

  • shadhussain

    seriously considered the jambox and decided on the soundfreaq sidekick … seemed a better better value option with louder and better quality sound in a slightly less mobile, less attractive package (source: several online reviews) … for a 100 bucks!

  • roland

    I’ll look for the next generation

  • ChrisLH

    I’ve had one of these for a few months now. Overall I’ve been pretty disappointed.

    The sound quality is pretty decent for something this small and I love the portability.

    However, the volume is EXTREMELY low. It’s fine for indoors but if I’m outside, it is entirely too quiet. Even with the volume turned all the way to the max on both the phone’s bluetooth and the Jambox, it is very quiet. On top of that, turning the bluetooth volume up all the way leads to a significant amount of distortion, especially on the low end.

    I tried downloading updates online but nothing has really worked.

    Overall, if you are only going to use it inside or outside in relatively confined and quiet areas, its fine. If you want to jam out a little more or take it to the park or the beach or anywhere with noise, the low volume is going to make it essentially useless.

    After doing a lot of research and reading a lot of the reviews, I’m definitely disappointed and expected more for $175. I’m looking at the larger version or something else at this point because it just doesn’t work for what I need it for.

  • JW

    My son has had the Jambox for a few months now and while it was a lot of fun, it was just not loud enough for him. I recently purchased the Crasher, which is about the same size and sound (from what I can tell) with way more volume. I know the portability / rechargeable speakers are limited in what they can do in terms of loudness, but so far I have been really impressed with what this can do.

    I found it on Amazon.com – Crasher Bluetooth Portable Speaker.

    Bonuses are that it is a lower price and it has a built in power pack that can charge my son’s iphone while he is out and about so he never has an excuse to miss my call :)

  • klcow92


  • sbala

    Its looking cute

  • Rhys

    Really they are a waste of money for the amount of sound it pumps out you can get better speaker like the moshi bass burger for $30 and it is easy 3x louder and still the bass you want

  • dayle drozd

    Is their an app for me too down load for an amplifier?
    Its a Quality product and experimented with the different sound modes (rock) is where I’m at but just want to get some more out of the speaker volume wise?
    Thanks for listening and please get in contact with me if theirs an app?