Over the last couple years, Jawbone's Jambox line has largely defined the Bluetooth speaker space with a killer balance of acoustics and style. We've been fans of the original since it's debut in 2010, and the follow-up Big Jambox since its arrival last year. But the Jambox, in any size, has never been particularly cheap and it's never been slim enough to comfortably slide into a coat pocket. With the new Mini Jambox, Jawbone is finally addressing size, but the price is still set at a premium.
At $179.99, the Mini Jambox is the same price as the standard model, and $120 less than the Big Jambox. The Mini, which is available for pre-order today and arriving to retail in the coming days, is about half as thick as the regular model and slightly longer. At nine ounces, it's lightweight and made of a beautiful aluminum unibody with speaker holes machined into the face of the device. Like the regular Jambox, the Mini is dead simple to connect to a phone, tablet, or laptop. Despite being a significantly smaller device, the Mini Jambox offers a level of audio quality and volume that seems comparable to the now mid-sized Jambox on a casual listen — loud, crisp, detailed, though not particularly booming on bass.
The most portable Jambox yet
Tim Pryde, Jawbone's senior director of audio project management, admits that tradeoffs were required to make such a small speaker, but claims that it still lives up to the company's standards. "We wanted something that's as mobile as a smartphone, that's still a speaker," says Pryde. The Mini includes all the same features as its two bigger brothers — including a built-in mic so it can be used for phone calls, the surround-sound simulating LiveAudio effect, and customizable voice alerts. Battery life comes in at about 10 hours, Pryde says. It's also available in nine different anodized colors, including red, blue, yellow, black, and green.
The company is also releasing an iOS and Android app today called, simply enough, the Jawbone app. Both feature the ability to give your Jambox a nickname along with basic instructions on how to operate a Jambox. The iOS version does something that's actually worth the installation, however, letting you pull in and play playlists from iTunes, Spotify, and Rdio. Playlist aggregation will be come in a few weeks for Android users, Jawbone promises.
After first glance, the Mini Jambox feels just as charming as the original Jawbone speaker. But, at the same price as the slightly bigger, heavier model, we're not ready to declare the Mini the better buy (or not) until after a full review.