Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bluetooth Finally Comes of Age - The Jawbone Big Jambox

Well, it's almost the end of the year and I have to say it's been a pretty ho hum one in terms of tech gadgetry...why else would I be talking about something so mundane as Bluetooth!  But seriously, Bluetooth technology has come along quite a way since it was introduced over a decade ago.  Back then the technology was so flaky - slow speeds, compatibility issues, connection problems, etc...and this seemed to continue on for a number of years.  Did anyone back then ever get Bluetooth to work on a Windows machine?  I bet not!  It was only during the past 3 or 4 years that things got progressively better, probably due to a combination of evolving/maturing Bluetooth standards along with the proliferation of Bluetooth headsets and "hands free" automobile products that brought the technology to the mainstream.  Nowadays Bluetooth seems to be pretty robust and I can't recall the last time I had issues pairing a device.  To paraphrase the late Steve Jobs, "it just works"...finally!

A great example of the above is the latest gadget I purchased, the Jawbone Big Jambox wireless Bluetooth speaker.  Talk about a dead simple setup procedure - the first time you turn the thing on it smartly goes into pairing mode automatically and has voice/sound prompts to guide you through the process.  The speaker can store a total of 8 paired devices, and 2 of them can be simultaneously connected to it.  In addition, it also comes with a built-in microphone so that you can use it as a wireless speakerphone.  So, for example, if you're streaming your favorite tunes from your iPad to the Jambox and your phone happens to ring, the Jambox will recognize this and pause your music, announce the incoming call (w/ caller id even), and when you pick up the call it immediately turns itself into a full-duplex speakerphone with amazingly good call quality.  Audio quality is generally very good for a speaker of this size - as long as you keep that in perspective you should be fine.  The device's software can be updated through the Jawbone website, and there are even some supplemental apps (e.g. voice dialers) that you can download to the device as well as a plethora of optional audio "voices" in case the default one doesn't suit your taste.

The versatility and simplicity of the Jambox makes it a better choice for many audio enthusiasts over the more elegant (and non-Bluetooth) wireless solutions offered by Sonos.  Don't get me wrong, though...Sonos products are in a league of their own in terms of versatility and handling complex, multi-room environments.  But they can also be a bit finicky in terms of setup and maintenance...at least that's been my experience.

The Jambox is also quite stylish-looking too; don't you agree?


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