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HMDX Jam Plus review:

Popular wireless speaker can now pair up

Performance The Jam Plus does sound better than the original, with a bit more bass. Despite users high regard for the original Jam, I thought it sounded very thin. By contrast, this model merely sounds thin, which is an improvement.

The Jam Plus comes in five colors. Sarah Tew/CNET

With all these mini Bluetooth speakers, I try to review them in their larger context. If an audiophile were listening to them, he or she would be none too impressed (dismayed might be a more accurate description), but mainstream users should be fairly satisfied with the sound.

The Jam Plus does play larger than its size would indicate and its sound can be improved a bit by placing it near a wall to get some reflection. It will distort with bass-heavy material, particularly at higher volumes, so you're best off not cranking the speaker and listening at more moderate volume levels.

As I've noted in many of my reviews of tiny wireless speakers (and even some larger units), they offer no stereo separation. The good news here is that combining two of these speakers remedies that problem. And by creating a wider sound stage, your music will sound fuller. The only issue is that the speakers don't serve up a ton of bass, so the sound comes across as somewhat thin. To be clear, virtually all these tiny speakers sound thin, though the Jawbone Jambox and JBL Flip (and JBL Charge) do deliver noticeably more bass. The Philips SoundShooter is a bit smaller speaker that retails for the same price (around $50). It offers double the battery life, a touch more bass, and has speakerphone capabilities. But the Jam Plus seems like the more durable speaker.

Audio input and USB charging port -- the speaker offers 4 hours of battery life. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion The Jam Plus has some nice pluses working in its favor. I liked its design, the speaker sounds better than the original, and you have the option to buy a second speaker and create a stereo pair. Oh, and at around $50, it's pretty affordable.

There are plenty of other options to choose from, including the Philips SoundShooter and the more expensive JBL Flip and UE Boom Mobile Boombox, which offer better performance. However, the HMDX Jam Plus is one of those products that may have few drawbacks (so-so battery life, lack of bass, no speakerphone functionality), but the sum of its parts makes it recommendable, particularly for kids and teenagers.

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