Review: Jawbone JAMBOX

by Joe Havelick 16. April 2011 09:42

The Jawbone JAMBOX is a phenomenal sounding portable speaker that is a little smaller than a bottled water. It's battery powered, bluetooth compatible, and ready for use with an iPhone, laptop, or any other device. At $200, it's a bit on the pricy side, but in my opinion, it's worth every penny.

 

The thing that first caught my attention of this unit was the sound quality. My brain still has trouble accepting that the sound I hear comes from this unit. Especially surprising is the amount of bass that it musters up. At full volume, this thing has some thump. The mid and high ranges are well balanced as well. There are limits to the loudness of the unit, but I think it will suffice for most indoor scenarios, and some outdoor.

The unit itself can be used comepletely wireless. It has an internal battery that is said to last 10 hours. Although I haven't tested this, I will say that I've used it for some time, and the battery still reports full. It can also be plugged in (and recharged) via a standard USB mini plug. You can broadcast to the speaker using Bluetooth or a standard phone cable. I'm not a wizard with Bluetooth protocals, but I will say that there are ones that sound just okay. This is not one of them, it sounds great.

Out of the box, the unit comes with some nice accessories. It comes with (2) usb mini cables (short and long), a wall plug, a compact phone cable, and a neoprene case that adds some protection with very little bulk.

It is well integrated with the iPhone. After pairing, I was surprised to see that there was a little batter power meter for it in my iPhone status bar. The unit is "upgradable" through http://mytalk.jawbone.com, including some alternate languages and tools. Oh, did I not mention that it's also a kick ass speakerphone too.

I find this unit ideal for listening to music/podcasts or watching movies

  • In the shower,
  • while working out,
  • at my workbench,
  • doing laundry,
  • grilling on the back porch,
  • or in a hotel room.

In summary, you really need to see and hear this unit to get a feel for how mind bending it is. It's size and battery power make it ideal for portability. It's quality (sound and design) make it an awesome product that enriches my life.

Oh, and then there's this:

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Review: Dual XHD7714

by Joe Havelick 15. April 2009 17:31

The Dual XHD7714 is a full featured car stereo head unit at a very cheap price.  It features your standard AM/FM CD/MP3/WMA player, Bluetooth speakerphone/AV input, HD Radio, USB drive, and iPod integration all built into the unit.  Best of all, the price, anywhere from $135 -180 (best price linked above).

It's tempting to say you get what you pay for, but for this unit, I feel like you're getting a whole lot more.  You really can't find a head unit with both Bluetooth and HD radio integrated.  You usually get one, and have to buy a module for the second.  The call quality is comparable to any other speakerphone.  The HD radio is pretty impressive.  A single frequency can actually broadcast multiple channels.  That means much more variety in the same spectrum, and there is a significant quality boost, mostly in the high end.  As compared to satellite radio, it doesn't sound nearly as compressed, when the signal is lost, is seamlessly falls back to analog, and it doesn't cost anything on a regular basis!

I don't use an iPod (yes, I'm the one), so I can't speak for that geature set, but I do use a regular MP3 player via the AUX input, and that's pretty straight forward.  I also put books on tape onto my thumb drive. They've made it simple to navigate through folders and files.  Also, after I remove my thumbdrive, and insert it later, it picks up where I left off.  With books on tape, this it important since some tracks can be 30-60 minutes, and I don't have to fastforward to find my spot.

I listen to everything from downtempo to progressive rock, and the frequency response is as good as you can get from a unit at this price (way better than the upgraded OEM unit that came with my vehicle.)  I recently spent 9 hours driving over the period of Easter weekend and I never ran out of things to listen to/play with. 

Here are the rumors I read about, and my take:

  •   The buttons feel cheap - Well, you can tell they're your standard surface mount PCB buttons.  True, they don't have a tactile feedback sensation that you would brag about, but I'm not concerned about their lifespan.  This is a "you get what you pay for" item.
  •   The Bluetooth speakerphone is quiet/I have to yell - This unit is at par with any other phone based speakerphone or external bluetooth speakerphoneI've used.  I'm actually impressed with the noise cancellation given the level of feedback it recieved form the car speakers, and the road noise in my truck.  The only thing I would complain about is thatoccationally the voices are "sharp" and can be peircing if they all of a sudden start talking louder.  
  •   The LCD is unreadable in daytime - It's definitely dim, but I've been able to read it in all conditions so far.  It might depend on the mounting angle.  My screen is perfectly perpendicular to the floor.  I will say that it is slow to refresh.  And I was also surprised that there was no "dimmer" wire, so the brightness does not adjust with your dimmer setting on your vehicle.  This is also a "you get what you pay for" item.
  •   The HD radio reception is poor - Here in the greater Boston area, I'm getting better HD reception than FM reception.   And the failover from HD to FM is actually pretty unnoticable, other than the fidelity loss.

Pros:

  • Cheap ($135)
  • Good BT Speakerphone
  • Great HD
  • USB Thumbdrive support
  • Aux Input
  • iPod integration
  • Decent sound quality
  • 3 set of pre-amp outputs

Cons:

  • No dimmer support
  • LCD issues (see above)
  • Some bluetooth issues, cannot answer from head unit on one phone.
  • Bluetooth can sound "sharp", needs a compressor.
  • FM reception not great.

Overall, this is the best unit you can buy at this price range today.  Hands down.  That's why I own it.

The official page, with a link to the manual can be found here.
The best price I found at the time is available here.

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Mind Performance Hacks - Ron-Hale Evans

by Joe Havelick 3. January 2009 18:52

Rating: 4/5

Overall: A very enjoyable book with some real work techniques to walk away with.  A worth-while purchase for yourself, or as a gift.

Pros:

  • Interesting and useful techniques and tips for thinking more effectively.  If you were ever curious about ther methodoliges behind Arthur Benjamin's Mathmagic, you'll find many of them here.  Although it would take a tremendous amount of practice and talent to do it as gracfully as him, you may be able to apply some of the techniques in more standard day-to-day scenarios effectively.
  • Broken down into individual "tips" of 3-8 pages, making it an easy book to pick up and put down based on available time, or look for a particular item of interest.

Cons:

  • Ron Hale-Evans is definately a programmer.  Many of the tips have a programming slant on them, and several go as far as to include Perl scripts to demonstrate the tips.  This may be an pro to some, but I find it a bit off topic.
  • Some of the examples used in the book are a bit obscure.  I found myself wishing some items were better or more completely explained.

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