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The music-on-the-go scene is a growing fast. In just a few years, we went from dedicated music players with no built-in speakers, to smartphones with ever-improving speakers, to smaller and smaller Bluetooth speakers with better and better sound.

When we reviewed the Logitech UE Mobile Boombox Logitech UE Mobile Boombox Review & Giveaway Logitech UE Mobile Boombox Review & Giveaway One of the most prominent players in the portable speaker market is theLogitech UE Mobile Boombox, which, at least on paper, is portable enough to be taken anywhere, yet powerful enough to provide good-quality audio,... Read More only a few month ago, the Bluetooth speaker scene was quite a different one. Specifically, the Jawbone Mini Jambox did not exist in it. Now it does.

The Mini Jambox is the latest and greatest in a line of Jawbone Bluetooth speakers, and as such, we had to take it for a spin and see what it’s all about. Can such a tiny speaker produce acceptable sound? How easy is it to carry around? What else can you use it for? We found out all these answers. And one of you will get to experience it first hand too, because we’re giving away this brand new Jawbone Mini Jambox worth $180 to one of you! Will you be the lucky one?

Introduction

The Mini Jambox is the the smallest and newest product in a line of Jawbone Bluetooth speakers. It measures 6 x 1 x 2.3 inches (yes, it’s only about an inch thick), and weighs 9 oz (255 grams). It boasts to be a “smart” speaker rather than just a small one, with a LiveAudio feature for even better sound experience.

In the Jawbone house, the Mini Jambox sits comfortably between the regular $150 Jambox and the bigger and more expensive $300 Big Jambox. Unlike its two siblings, the Mini Jambox comes in 9 preset color options, so you can’t mix and match parts to create your own custom-designed speaker.

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As for competitors, the much cheaper Logitech UE Mobile Boombox can be yours for less than $80 from Amazon, and is still a worthy competitor, albeit a less feature-rich one. Its bigger brother, the UE Boom, costs $180 — just like the Mini Jambox — and is a much larger and heavier speaker.

This leaves us with the most trendy option of the lot, the Beats by Dr. Dre Pill which costs $200, but comes with NFC technology along with Bluetooth, and doesn’t weigh much more than the Mini Jambox.

Getting To Know The Mini Jambox

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As you would expect from such a small speaker, the Mini Jambox comes tightly packed in an elegant cardboard box, which opens to reveal the speaker in all its glory, along with some very minimal accessories.

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Unlike the UE Mobile Boombox, for example, that comes with its own wall charger and country adapter, Jawbone chose to supply only the bare minimum when it comes to charging. In the box, you’ll find a standard micro-USB cable, as well as a 3.5 mm stereo cable, in case you want to forgo the speaker’s wireless abilities. If you want to charge the speaker from the wall, you’ll have to get your own adapter.

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Looking at the speaker itself, there are quite a few parts to get to know. The Mini Jambox’s design is beautiful, with a different grill design for every color, and a matching design on the back. There’s a single playback button on top, along with volume controls. The one playback button can be used in various ways to control playback, so it’s not just your regular play/pause button.

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On the side, you’ll find the power button surrounded by a rim of colorful flashing LED, a pairing button, the audio jack and micro-USB plug, and a microphone. The LED around the power button will flash in different colors when enabled, pairing, etc.

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When the device is turned on, pressing the power button once will cause the speaker to tell you how much battery it has left. Yes, it actually tells you this. It also takes you through the pairing device pretty much by the hand.

The Mini Jambox is made of slick aluminum, which makes the device a good-looking one. It also makes it heavier than the cheaper Logitech UE Mobile Boombox, and while I’m not sure it’s true, it also feels more vulnerable. While I would definitely prefer not to drop any speaker I own, I have a distinct feeling that the Mini Jambox will not survive even a short fall unscathed. In comparison, the rubber-covered UE Mobile Boombox feels much more sturdy, and I feel much safer taking it out of the house.

You must be wondering, how does such a sleek aluminum device fare when standing on a table? Doesn’t it slide around? I was worried too, but Jawbome included tiny rubber legs on the Mini Jambox, and while they’re barely visible if you’re not looking for them, they definitely keep the speaker stable on any surface.

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Pairing, Customizing & Updating

There are several ways to pair the Mini Jambox. The first and most straightforward one is to turn it on, put it in pairing mode, and pair it with your phone. This works perfectly well, and although the Mini Jambox will try to coerce you into downloading the Jawbone app, you don’t actually have to.

You can pair the Mini Jambox with any Bluetooth-enabled device, and although I got much smoother playback with my phone than with my laptop, this might be due to something in my system rather than the speaker itself.

If you want access to LiveAudio, notification and alert settings, and other amusing tweaks, you’re going to have to download the Jawbone app (Android/iOS). The app adds a speaker battery meter which you can see at a glance when your phone is paired with the Mini Jambox, gives you access to calendar reminders, lets you enable LiveAudio, as well as change the way the Mini Jambox speaks to you.

So what in the world is LiveAudio? According to Jawbone, LiveAudio is a playback technology that creates three-dimensional sound, thus letting you fully immerse in whatever you’re listening to. The Jawbone app comes with a nice LiveAudio demo, which you can witness below. While you won’t hear the full effect of the three-dimensional sound, you can definitely hear the change in the audio quality, even in this video.

LiveAudio is actually pretty impressive, and while it sounds like a complete gimmick, it does make your music sound much better and fuller. I’m not sure why it’s not just the default playback method, though. Probably a Jawbone trick to make you feel like you’re getting something extra. In order to get LiveAudio, you’ll have to connect the speaker to your computer, sign in to the Jawbone website (requires an account), and update your Mini Jambox.

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As promised, you can also get your Mini Jambox to speak out your calendar reminders, and even read out your calls for you when paired with your phone. The app will automatically retrieve events from your calendar, which you can view by tapping the “Agenda” button. You can then set up which type of notifications you’d like to get from the Jambox when these occur.

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The app also lets you choose what happens when you long-press the Play button on the speaker (voice dial or call a specific number), and lets you choose from 17 different voices and languages for your Mini Jambox. This is where it gets truly fun. And frankly, pretty hilarious.

Aside from 10 different characters, you can also choose one of 7 different languages, including Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin.

Using The Mini Jambox

Using the Mini Jambox for music is straightforward, and the quality of sound is impressive. While it won’t provide anything like the sound you’d get from a professional sound system, it’s more than enough for music on the go, and even for great music at home. And with LiveAudio enabled, you can almost feel as though you have a real sound system.

The Mini Jambox’s official range is 33 feet (~10 meters), and it indeed performs impressively here too. I managed to leave my apartment with my phone and close the door behind me, and could still hear the Mini Jambox playing along in the living room. It did stutter a bit when I hid in the laundry room, with about 4 walls separating me from the device, but all in all, it was still chugging along.

When listening to music, you can control volume and playback from the phone or computer itself, but it’s also possible to do this using just the Mini Jambox. One press on the play/pause button does just that — play and pause — but press twice, and you’ll jump one track forward. Press three times, and you should go one track back. In reality, I had trouble executing the three-press action. Many times the Mini Jambox misunderstood it as a double press, and other times it just paused and played again.

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As mentioned above, the play/pause button is also a shortcut for either voice dial or speed dial. Unfortunately, neither of these options worked very well for me. The voice search failed 9 times out of 10, and at some point just stopped launching, and the speed dial never did anything aside from making cute sounds and saying “speed dialing”. It never really dialed anywhere, although I did set it up to call a specific number.

On the other hand, the Mini Jambox is quite useful as a speaker phone, if you need one. It reads out your calls as the come in, and lets you answer or reject them without touching your phone. It can access phone numbers in your calendar, and if you want it to, call certain numbers for meetings or join conference calls. The sound quality is good on both sides, although your voice might get a bit choppy if you get too far from your phone.

Living With The Mini Jambox

Though I didn’t get to live with it for very long, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Mini Jambox. It’s a beautiful little speaker, comes with many interesting features, and above all, music just sounds great coming from it.

The promised battery life for the Mini Jambox is 10 hours continuous play, and while I didn’t actually use it for 10 hours straight, listening to music for an hour barely seemed to lower its battery levels. Unlike the UE Mobile Boombox by Logitech, the Mini Jambox turns itself off automatically when not in use, thus prolonging its overall battery life.

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All in all, though, I’m not sure how useful the Mini Jambox’s extra features are, especially since I rarely hold conference calls and don’t really need my speaker to remind me of events. But for what it’s made for — listening to music — the Mini Jambox delivers, big time.

Should You Buy The Mini Jambox

The Mini Jambox is an excellent speaker, but it is on the expensive side. You won’t be disappointed if you get it, but if all you want it to listen to music, the UE Mobile Boombox is $100 cheaper, and sounds almost as good.

If, however, you want the added bonus of a talking speaker, the notifications, and of course, LiveAudio, the Mini Jambox is a solid buy.

MakeUseOf recommends: Buy it, if you want the extras.

How do I win the Jawbone Mini Jambox?

You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.

After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, November 29. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.

The Winner

Congratulations, Jennifer Herlihy! You would have received an email from jackson@makeuseof.com. Please respond before December 21 to claim your prize. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

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