Setting up the Bluetooth connection is very simple, requiring you to press the pairing button on the speaker to make it 'discoverable', finding the speaker in the list of available Bluetooth devices on your handset and simply clicking on it. Then you can go ahead and play music from the media player on your phone or via apps like Spotify. It'll also pair with a laptop if you want to use it to make your movies more cinematic.
I found the Bluetooth connection to be very strong. Jawbone reckons the speaker will remain paired up to around 33 feet, which I'd say is pretty accurate. I was able to walk a surprising distance from the speaker without any drop in sound and it was able to keep connected when in other rooms. If your phone's playing the music and you get up to make a quick brew, you won't need to worry about the sound cutting out.
The speaker also has a microphone in it so it can be used as a Bluetooth speakerphone. This is handy if -- like me -- you often get calls from your parents right in the middle of cooking or washing up when you really can't hold a phone to your head. I found the sound was clear and easy to listen to and the microphone did a good job of picking up my voice.
Rather than make you spend a small fortune on D cell batteries, the Big Jambox is rechargeable. Jawbone reckons you can get 15 hours of play through its speakers and based on my own use, I'd say that's reliable. I had it power a long evening's party and provide numerous hours of background music in my living room and I struggled to drain it. If you plan on taking it to the park, give it a good charge in the morning and you won't have to worry about it for the rest of the day.
The most important factor of any speaker -- especially one you've paid £260 for -- is its sound quality. After all, what's the point in having an attractive speaker that tells you about its battery if it's not good enough to play back your tunes? Thankfully, the Big Jambox does not present any problems here. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The most surprising aspect is the sheer amount of volume it's able to pump out. Although it might only be the size of a standard kitchen radio, the Big Jambox is able to deliver serious noise. To give it a real test, I used it as the main speaker to power a CNET UK party in our large, open cafeteria space. I was extremely impressed at its ability to fill the room with noise -- in fact, several people came over and were amazed that such a small box was able to create such a din.
Not only was it extremely loud but it was also able to stay mostly free of distortion. Even when I cranked it to the max, it was only with the most powerful bass hits that the speakers showed signs of stress. For the most part, it was noise-free.
The sound was bright and clear, with well-defined high levels, which made cymbals and acoustic guitars in tracks like Ingrid Michaelson's Locked Up sound delicious. The same was evident on the delightful L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N by Noah and the Whale. If you're a fan of folk and acoustic rock, you'll be very pleased with the tones achieved by the Big Jambox.
It's also not bad with the lower end of the sound spectrum, offering a punchy bass sound. Kick drums were loud and clear, although without an enormous separate sub-woofer handling the ultra-low frequencies, bass wasn't particularly warm -- the low synth bassline on Skrillex's track Breakin' a Sweat, for example, was mostly indistinguishable.
Still, even the bigger, more expensive speakers can struggle with really low bass rumbles so I can't ask too much of such a diminutive device. It's perfectly capable of playing back most music without you feeling it's lacking in any area. If anyone complains, just turn it up loud enough to drown them out.
The Jawbone Big Jambox might be pretty pricey, but it packs a clear, full and extremely big sound from a deceptively small body. If you're on the lookout for a rechargeable speaker to power your barbecue garden parties, this might just do the trick.