Big Jambox review
21st Aug 2012 | 15:40
The Jawbone Big Jambox Smartspeaker teams a slick design with killer audio
We were extremely impressed by the solid sound quality of the smaller original Jawbone Jambox, so we had high hopes when we heard that the Big Jambox was on the horizon.
While gadgets like the Loewe Air Speaker and B&W Zeppelin Air use Apple Airplay, the Big Jambox relies on Bluetooth to stream your tunes from your smartphone, tablet or laptop with a range of around 10m.
Big Jambox: Build
The Big Jambox sports a similar design to its smaller silbing, but while the original Jambox can be held comfortably in one hand and easily slipped into your luggage, the Big Jambox isn't quite as portable.
Measuring in at 256 x 80 x 93mm, it's easy to move around, perhaps between your desk and the garden but at 1.2kg it would take a sizable chunk out of your baggage weight allowance if you were to pack it to go on holiday.
The perforated steel grille covers the top, back and front of the unit, while the ends sport a premium plastic finish and the underside features eight rubber discs to keep the speaker in place and toc cut down on any distortion.
While we were given the white version to review, the Big Jambox also comes in black and red.
Big Jambox: Controls
The unit sports only a few controls - play, pause, skip track forwards and backwards and volume up and down, while the Jambox button on the left will tell you how much battery you have left if pressed during playback.
The only other buttons you'll find are on the side - one for power, which is encircled by a power/pairing indicator light and the other for kicking off the pairing process. We had the speaker paired to our iPhone 4S in no time.
If you want to turn the speaker on or off without the riduclous Star Trek-esque sound effect that accompanies such a manoeuvre, just hold down the minus button before pressing the power control. You can also change the sound effect but we'll talk about that later.
Big Jambox: Connections
The Jambox has been designed to work as a completely wireless Bluetooth speaker, but there's also a 35mm jack (plus a handy supplied cable) for you to hook up the music player of your choice. Other than the that, the only connections are USB for charging or updating software along with DC adaptor input.
The good news is that the Big Jambox enables you to pair up to two devices at the same time. We tried this out with an iPhone 4S and an iPad 2, and also with a pair of iPhone 4s.
Hitting play on one device will immediately give it precedence over the device already playing, leading us into an unplanned game of 'Spotify tennis' and resulting in a playlist-based argument. The Big Jambox can remember up to eight paired devices.
Big Jambox: MyTalk
By signing up to the Jambox MyTalk website, you can update software and choose from a number of options. You can choose from various different voices, such as a husky female called The Bombshell or a sleazy sounding chap called The Rogue, both of which manage to make your audio options sound really quite creepy.
We opted for the Classic Arcade sound instead which sounds like friendly robot in an aging arcade game. Much nicer.
You'll also find some phone call settings, such as the ability to assign your most-used phone number to the Talk button in the Jambox, which will dial up the person with one press.
All this means that you'll be able to constantly update your Jambox as Jawbone releases more updates.
Big Jambox: Battery
The Big Jambox's rechargable battery takes 2.5 hours to full charge, which gives you a respectable 15 hours of playback or 500 hours on standby.
Big Jambox: Sound quality
Bass is fantastic for a speaker of this size and actually much better than on many larger speakers. However, it's not all about beefed-up bass - the overall sound performance is very strong indeed and can easily fill a reasonably sized room.
The sonics are pretty consistent, even when you whack the volume up so you won't get any of the tinniness that blights cheapers speakers. Bass-heavy rock sounds fantastic, as does 80s-style electro and the the speaker also performs well on more traditional musical genres like classical and jazz.
You can also use the speaker to make and receive calls, and the built-in 360-degree microphone makes it handy for all those terribly important conference calls.
Big Jambox: Verdict
There's no denying that the Big Jambox is a very nice speaker indeed. Along the minimalist design and simple controls, the reliable pairing and fantastic sound quality all win it points. It makes a great desktop speaker, although it's maybe a little too hefty to be taking away on your hols.
At a touch under £260, the speaker is a tad pricey for what it is, but if you've got the cash to spare then you're unlikely to be disappointed.
Big Jambox availability: Available now
Big Jambox price: £259.99