Even the best phone speakers can't produce enough sound to fill the kitchen while you cook your dinner, but Jawbone's new Jambox most certainly can, and then some.
The Jambox was smaller than we expected when we unboxed it. We were expecting something the size of a house brick. In fact, the Jambox sits in the palm of your hand, and is small enough to carry around in a large coat pocket, or a small bag. It's also light, which will be of interest if you want to keep one with them at all times.
Most surprising is the power of the sound the Jambox can create. There's some magical trickery going on here that's not entirely obvious to us, but the audio generated by this speaker is far more powerful than it should be in a device this size. Some of that is down to the fact that the speakers are arranged quite cleverly. Bass radiates out of the rear of the unit, while treble comes from the front.
You get a hint of its ability when you first turn it on. The Jambox makes a strange noise, which goes from high-pitched to very bassy in just a few seconds. With the low, bass tone, you can feel the speaker rumble in your hand. It's really quite incredible, and an excellent intro to what the box can do.
In addition to being a simple speaker, as you might expect from Jawbone, the Jambox also operates as a speaker phone. And, as with Jawbone's superb Bluetooth earpieces, there's some clever noise reduction going on here to make loud environments more manageable for the device. It's also like being in Charlie's Angels, although perhaps not quite as retro.
If you don't have a Bluetooth device, or would rather not use it because of the battery implications, there's also a headphone-sized socket that can accept audio from any MP3 player.
Jawbone says it will last 10 hours on the built-in battery, which will vary depending on the volume and how you connect your device to the Jambox. Charging is done via the micro-USB socket, but you can also update the box via Jawbone's update service, which is called MyTalk. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, the battery remaining will be displayed on the screen of your device too, which is very helpful.
All in all, we were blown away by the Jambox. It doesn't distort too much at high volume, and for a standard sized room it produces more than enough sound to be clearly audible. Don't expect music to sound like it's coming from a hi-fi, as the small size of this box does make audio sound less powerful, but we think that's perfectly reasonable.
The Jambox is available now direct from Jawbone in black, blue, red and grey and each has a slightly different speaker grille style. The bad news is the price, which at £160 is likely to put this out of reach of many people. We utterly love this bit of kit though, and it's likely to prove very useful for people who hate headphones.