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HMDX Jam Plus review: Popular wireless speaker can now pair up

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MSRP: $59.99

The Good The affordable HMDX Jam Plus sounds better than the original Jam, it has an attractive, fun design, and if you buy a second speaker you can create a completely wireless pair of true stereo speakers.

The Bad No speakerphone capabilities; while the bass is a bit improved, the speaker still sounds thin and distorts at higher volumes.

The Bottom Line With an appealing design, affordable price, and the ability to combine a second Jam Plus to create a left/right stereo pair, the Jam Plus is a worthy budget Bluetooth speaker.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 6
  • Value 7

Review Sections

The original HMDX Jam distinguished itself from the rest of the mini Bluetooth speaker pack with a low price tag ($39.99) and some creative packaging: the speaker came in a "jam" jar made of hard translucent plastic, complete with a twist-off top.

Now the company is back with a new, improved edition, the Jam Plus, which retails for around $50 and comes in multiple colors. The speaker's slightly bigger than the original and also sounds slightly better, but its other selling point is that if you buy two of them, you can combine the two speakers and create a pair of left/right wireless stereo speakers. The Jam Plus is among the first Bluetooth speakers to include such a stereo option and it certainly creates a better listening experience, though it doesn't cover up the speakers' shortcomings in the bass department.

Design and features The original or "classic" Jam is sold in six "flavors"-- Strawberry, Grape, Blueberry, Blackberry, Apricot, and Apple -- that refer to its various color options. This model eschews the fruit reference, but it does come in five different colors. Interestingly, the Plus is slightly larger than the original but weighs a bit less (8 ounces vs. 9.6 ounces).

The HMDX Plus has transport and volume controls on the front of the unit. Sarah Tew/CNET

The speaker is attractively styled in a fun way and seems geared toward tweens and younger tech users who might, say, have an iPod Touch (yes, the iPod Touch skews toward a younger audience). It's easy to pick up and carry around from room to room, and while no carrying case is included for transportation, you could use the plastic jar as a case.

Like all Bluetooth speakers, the HMDX Jam connects wirelessly up to 30 feet away and works with all Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, tablets, and laptops/desktops. The rechargeable, lithium-ion battery is rated to deliver up to 4 hours of wireless play, which is OK, but not great (your battery life will vary according to volume level, so you may be able to do better at lower volumes). It charges via USB and has an audio input for playing audio from non-Bluetooth devices.

There's a switch on the bottom of the speaker that allows you to pair two speakers in 'stereo' mode. Sarah Tew/CNET

There's no speakerphone capabilities, but as noted, you can combine two speakers to create a stereo pair. If you take a quick look at the instructions, it's easy enough to pair the two speakers (you set the switch on the bottom to left for one speaker and right for the other).

HMDX also sells the ruggedized Jam Extreme ($59.99), which is "splash proof, drop proof, and dirt proof." However, that model does not offer the stereo pairing feature.

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