on 8 July 2013
Other reviewers noted the small size of this JBL Bluetooth Wireless speaker, but I still could not believe the smallness of the box it came in, especially when I opened the box and it only filled half the box. It is indeed almost exactly the shape and size of a beer can. The battery was fully charged on arrival, so there was no waiting for three hours to use it, the accessories that come with it are practical and add to the value of the package too. The "Quick Start" instructions are just pictures, which may not be good enough for some, but it really is that simple to use. It connected straight away to my iPad Mini.
The sound is quite unbelievably good from such a tiny piece of kit, really detailed with a lively, clean, rich, full tone which, although not quite HiFi, is a match for a few micro systems and better than most "boom boxes". It goes well loud as well without buzzing, rattling or distorting and bleeps at you when it is at maximum volume, at which point there is just a touch of hardness to the sound. There is an optimum sound level range where it works best, which is more than enough to fill a large room. If its full of noisy people it might be pushed. Listening to it at very low volumes is a waste of its ability, the full richness of the sound is lost and it does sound a bit tinny. It sounds slightly more balanced and natural imo stood upright, the tiny footprint in this position makes it easier to fit on any small bit of flat surface. The caveat to that is that the charging point for your phone/tablet is in the base, this is the only thing I can point to as not ideal.
I have now had a few days to play with it and learn its foibles and faults, but to be honest it doesn't have any really. It will turn itself off if there is nothing being played on it for a while, but it instantly reconnects if you turn it on again. This is handy if you use it in an another room, say the kitchen, and you want to carry on listening to something while you make a cuppa or get some food, once paired, just press the bluetooth icon on your computer, select the JBL speaker from the menu and it reroutes the computer sound to the JBL. When you return press it again and switch the sound back to your computer. My computer is connected to my stereo so now I don't have to turn it up so I can hear it in the kitchen. (A point to note here, the bluetooth range is limited, so you may need to experiment.)
There is a mini jack input as well, but I don't have a suitable connector yet, so I can't comment on that, but it should in theory, sound even better. Portability is compromised, but certain situations or preference may well make this the better option.
I have since bought a connector and the results are as expected, an improvement of the sound. There is added refinement, detail and depth to the sound which raises the sound quality to that of a traditional speaker. As ever, the quality of what you hear is dependent on the source and this speaker may find your phone/tablet out. I have only used Apple sources which are highly rated when it comes to their ability with music. Others have mentioned positioning and the surface the speaker is on, a solid wooden surface such as a kitchen worktop or hardwood furniture is ideal, but beware the bass can take over and muffle the rest of the sound on harder surfaces and boxy furniture. This though applies to any speaker and it is entirely a matter of personal preference as to what sounds best.
I used it at work with my iPad Mini, its small size and weight is really handy, as I move into different parts of my work area I can easily take it with me. When connecting the iPad to the charging point the iPad remains fully charged, even when the speaker is not plugged in. This means you need only one plug socket to run both. I used the speaker on its own for a whole day at work, just on the battery, about 9 hours, and there was still plenty of charge left. Basically as long as you plug it in some time during the day the battery is not going to run out. I stopped looking at the little three light battery indicator after a day or so.
The casing is a durable looking, easy clean plastic, I had no qualms about using it in the chemistry lab where I work. The snug fitting case that comes with it will provide enough protection during extended transportation and the charger has a two pin Euro type plug which slots in to replace our normal three pin plug. For holidays, camping, days out or working around the house and garden, this little speaker is spot on. Lose those pesky headphones and engage with the world around you again.
It truly is quite an amazing bit of kit, it has to be seen and heard to be believed. This beer can, sorry bluetooth speaker, is so good that, not only Amazon and my local Currys, but JBL themselves, had run out of the dark grey ones when I tried to buy mine. The light blue one I have looks just fine, not sure about the "bile green" one though. This is the first time I have ever bothered to do a review on Amazon, I hope it enlightens and informs.