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Christmas Gift Guide
Sci-Tech

JookBox: A Wi-Fi speaker with a social twist

Can't decide what to play at your next party? Let your guests be the DJ with this portable speaker and app now making a run on Kickstarter.

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The JookBox provides truly social media. BSX Electronics

Usually, when I'm having a party, one of the things I most enjoy is putting together a playlist of songs I think my guests may never have heard before, but are likely to enjoy. Sometimes that works, sometimes not so much (like at a recent party when my obscure Spaccanapoli track elicited cries of, "Can we listen to something in English?!").

The JookBox, a Wi-Fi speaker and app combination now making a run on Kickstarter, aims to solve this problem by letting everyone attending the party contribute songs to the mix. Once you have the speaker in your home and the app on your phone, you simply send out an invite to all the people attending the party asking them to contribute songs to the mix. They can send songs from their own music library or from streaming services like Spotify. Then, when the big event gets under way, just start the guest-created playlist to deliver sonic happiness for all.

If there's that one friend from college who has atrocious music taste, you, as the owner of the JookBox, can move those songs so low in the playlist that hopefully everyone will be gone before they play.

While I think the JookBox app itself would have been a sufficient innovation, the creators weren't content with stopping there, so they also invented the JookBox speaker. The portable speaker works with Bluetooth, but the JookBox system can operate up to 10 speakers over Wi-Fi. While you can stream the same thing to all 10 speakers and turn them on or off as in a Sonos system, what's really cool is that you can also put some of them in the same room and send each one different channels of the same audio signal to create a de facto surround sound system.

The speaker promises to deliver 10 hours of playtime on a single charge and boasts two 2.5 inch mid-range drivers and a passive low-range driver that promises to deliver 10 watts of sound. All that from a form factor that measures just over 8 inches wide by 3 inches tall. It also has NFC capabilities, so if your smartphone does too, you can just tap to pair.

Right now there are still about 30 early-bird specials left that will snag you a JookBox for $99 (about £63, AU$113). After that, the price climbs to $129, then $149 -- all still better than the expected retail price of $199 (about £127, AU$228). The speakers are expected to ship in February 2015.