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Jawbone releases Big Jambox. Is Boombotix next?

Popular portable speaker manufacturer has gone bigger and more expensive with newest model, but does that mean it’s any better?

Jawbone, best known for its easily portable, 12-ounce, brick-shaped Jambox speaker, released an upgraded model of the popular gadget this week, called the “Big Jambox.” (Creative name, right?)

I took a look at it and my review can best summed up as: Meh.

Let’s just put one thing out there—good technology is always worth a higher price tag. It’s something most people can agree upon. If a manufacturer puts out a product and claims that they’re the loudest portable speakers on the market and it turns out that they are, then they can charge whatever they want for said loud portable speakers.

Now, with that put out there, I’m not exactly sure what Jawbone was thinking when they slapped a $299 price tag on their new Big Jambox portable speaker. It’s a good product, yes. I mean, it is made by Jawbone after all. But is it the biggest? No. Is it the loudest? No. Is it portable? Yes. Easily portable? That depends on the size of your bag.

Specs

The Big Jambox is three times larger than the original model. Three times!!! It measures 3.6 x 10 x 3.1 inches and weighs 2.7 pounds. It still has its signature boxy design, comes with a nifty looking metal wraparound metal grill, and includes rubberized feet on the bottom to keep the speaker from walking away when the music is thumping.

Naturally, with bigger size comes bigger sound, and the real purpose behind the Big Jambox is to play it in larger rooms or the great outdoors. The problem with doing this, however, is that this expensive piece of machinery doesn’t come with a protective cover. And though it has a rubberized top and sides, it’s not exactly Boombotix drop-tested tough. Jawbone sells a travel case and with this being a portable speaker, one would be inclined to purchase it. The kicker here is that the case is $49. Not only that, it looks less like something you’d carry a portable speaker around in and more like something you’d use to bring wine to a party.

But I digress. Back to the Big Jambox sound. Truthfully, it is much better, much louder, and delivers significantly more bass than its kid brother. It doesn’t distort too badly at higher volumes, though it can feel a bit boxed-in, if you will, at times. Also, the speaker is a bit on the bright side, and displays just a tad bit of an edgy treble.

The best sound for the Big Jambox is experienced anywhere from 6-12 feet away from the speaker.

Also, it also should be noted that the look of the speaker is limited. It comes in only three models: red dot, white wave, and graphite hex, or blah, blah, and blaaah.

Functionality

The Big Jambox is pretty good at hooking up. It’s set up to wirelessly stream audio from any A2DP Bluetooth-enabled device (that covers most of the phones in our pockets right now).

There’s a micro-usb port on the side, and next to it is a stereo line input for connecting devices that don’t have Bluetooth.

A quirky add-on is that the Big Jambox can remember up to eight different devices that it’s been paired up with and you can actually pair two devices up with it at the same time. Why you would do that, who knows, but if you ever want to pause music on one phone and immediately start playing a different song on another phone, heck, you can do that with the Big Jambox.

Easy to reach buttons on the unit make it simple to adjust the volume, play / pause tracks, and skip songs. There’s also a button in the form of the letter “J”. When the user presses this, a voice announces how much battery is left.

Speakerphone

The Big Jambox also offers speakerphone capabilities, featuring a Type-1-compliant speakerphone which, according to Jawbone, is a “newly designed omnidirectional microphone for 360-degree sound input, with improved echo cancellation and full duplex communication.”

Real-world translation: you can use it for conference calls and not worry about the thing crapping out on you.

Battery and Updates

To charge the Big Jambox’s lithium-ion battery, you use the device’s AC adapter (thankfully included). It takes about 2.5 hours to achieve full charge which will, in turn, last you about 12-15 hours.

A USB cable is also included for firmware upgrades and uploading customization options through Jawbone’s MyTalk site.

So what should you do?

The Big Jambox is . . . nice. My biggest pet peeve with it is the fact that it’s priced as though it’s a premium portable speaker and sadly, it’s just not there yet.

You can get a comparable sound from smaller speakers like the BB1 or BB2. You also have more to choose from, between both function and style. Throw in the lower price and the decision here is almost a no-brainer.

Hush-Hush 411

If you’re itching for something to provide you with bigger sound, I encourage you to wait. The brains at Boombotix have been working non-stop in their lab on a top-secret project called “Thumper” which, it’s expected, will address many of the issues listed here concerning the Big Jambox.

Boombotix Thumper

What’s that even mean? Without giving too much away, Thumper will be big – Bigger bass. Bigger sound. Bigger personality.

And when it hits the market, it’ll make a big splash.

So, patience, my fellow Boombotees. Patience.

5 comments on “Jawbone releases Big Jambox. Is Boombotix next?

  1. this is not a review, i doubt they even listened to one.
    the photos are taken from cnet, and the text seems to be a copy from the verge.

  2. oluv – my man! thanks for the comment, homie. i checked out the verge’s review and it’s a solid write-up but to be honest, i couldn’t find a single instance where copy was lifted and put in this review. i appreciate your do-good intent here, but plagiarism’s a heavy claim to be made, so i hope you can provide me a specific p.o.r. to back up what you’re saying here.

    also, the images in this article are from a couple of different sites. it’s 2012 and everyone borrows everyone else’s images on the blogosphere. if the lack of authenticity of the photos rubs ya the wrong way, my bad!

  3. “You can get a comparable sound from smaller speakers like the BB1 or BB2.” (if you let NASA work on it for 3 years)

    The BB1/BB2 is just ugly, only 8 hours runtime, MONO-speaker?, Would buy the big jambox over BB2 any time. I dont see how they’re even comparable?

  4. Good work. I’d never heard of Boombotix. Then when I did, I quickly searched for a comparison and found this article which struck me as petty. It could have been an opportunity to be a balanced review from a competitor (which would have been classy and made me likely to buy from you). As a matter of fact, one does care about pairing multiple devices because re-pairing to let someone else play their music is a terrible experience.

    Oh, and a “related” blog post was on naked women and boomboxes. That solidified my view that the company’s all “bros” (team page confirmed that, too with the “look at me with bikini-clad women!” photo).

    Good job talking yourselves out of sales.

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