Last month, I put the full-sized Logitech Boombox up against the Jawbone Jambox in a $150 Bluetooth speaker battle. I liked both devices, but they had separate strengths and weaknesses and were best suited to different tasks. For instance, I liked the portability of the Jambox, its speakerphone capability, and charging via USB. I liked the sound and simplicity of the Logitech Boombox, but I did not like the proprietary AC adapter.
After the review, Logitech got ahold of me and said if I liked the Jambox and the Boombox, they made another product that I would love called the “Mini Boombox.” Unlike Logitech’s full-size Bluetooth speakers, the Mini charges via Mini-USB, can fit in the palm of your hand (or cargo pant pockets), and it acts as a speakerphone for an iPhone. This one retails for $100, but it can be found for $79.99 at both Amazon (with $30 of MP3s) and Best Buy.
How did it stack up against the two $150 Bluetooth speakers mentioned earlier?
I got the Mini Boombox before a vacation trip to South Florida just a few weeks ago. Out of the packaging (which you will not confuse with the quality of Apple’s packaging), you will notice a glossy-black plastic top (not a fan) and rubber sides that come in black, red, or white.
After seeing it online, I pictured it being much bigger than it was. This thing is about 50-percent smaller than the already small Jawbone Jambox and 50-percent lighter, but it features rounded corners and no physical buttons besides an on/off switch on the back. It measures 4.55-by-2.8-by-2.28 inches and weighs about a half-pound. (The original Jambox is over six inches long and weighs 12 oz.)
The back also has an auxiliary input and a mini-USB charging port. It is not terribly pretty, and I would have preferred the more popular micro-USB, but the layout works fine.
Once you turn the device on, the top adds some capacitive buttons that light up (below). They are not as reactive as physical buttons (like on Jambox), and they require a touch to light up, but they do work well. Logitech also offers forward and back skip buttons that the original Jambox lacks (the new Big Jambox includes skip buttons).
The first test of any device for me is if I can set it up without consulting any sort of manual or back-of-the-box instructions. Logitech’s Mini Boombox passed with flying colors, where as I had to read how to put the Jambox in pairing mode. I was immediately able to pair the Mini with my iPhone—and later with my Mac and iPad— by simply putting it in pairing mode using that phone/Bluetooth button above. A few seconds later, I was paired …and then it happened…
There are no words to describe the amazing sound that these things can produce. It is somehow significantly louder than the larger Jawbone Jambox. Dare I say, it comes close to the sound output of the bigger Logitech Boombox when not attached to a power cord (the regular Boombox steps down in power when unplugged, where as the Mini does not). The base coming from this little handheld speaker is unbelievable, and it makes really nice music. The sound starts to deteriorate as it gets to about 80 percent, but the sound is already louder than the bigger Jambox at this point. Remember, these are 8 oz. speakers that include a 10-hour battery. Overall, the sound is clear with far better lows than you would ever expect from a speaker that fits in your hand. Although there are two 3W speakers inside this box, they are located so close together that they might as well be a singular mono speaker.
The sound easily fills a small room and resembles much bigger speakers doing so. Let’s be real here: It will not replace my amazing Audyssey Lower East Sides, or any midrange/above desktop speakers for that matter, but this could be a worthy laptop speaker for some. It made for a great companion during a 30-minute jaunt on a treadmill, for instance, and it sounds great in a kitchen even with a dishwasher and sink faucet running.
I decided that this would be the only set of speakers we would take to Florida, forgoing my usual Jambox companion. Over the week, I used the Boombox as the sole speaker for listening to music in our hotel room and on the beach. It worked flawlessly in each case with passersbys commenting at the beach on several occasions about how good it sounds for having such small speakers (I probably sold a few right there). Unfortunately, the lit buttons are invisible in bright sunlight, but your muscle memory will tell you where they are after a few days with this thing.
The sound was so good that when we jumped in our rental car, we shut down the radio and plopped the mini on the dashboard. With its rubber bottom, it clings to otherwise slippery surfaces and managed to stay put on the dashboard without any adhesive for hours at a time. Another great feature is that you can just switch over to speakerphone when a phone call comes in, which is fantastic for the car. While the sound was not as crisp or loud as quality car speakers, especially in the back seats (and lacks surround obviously), it is very satisfying and great for rental cars that lack Bluetooth or aux audio.
Perhaps even more impressive than the sound (which is off the charts already) is the battery life. Logitech said it lasts 10 hours on a charge and that might actually be true. We listened to the Mini Boombox in our hotel, in our car, and on the beach with a few breaks in between all week long. Only charging at night, and even forgetting on a few occasions, we never managed to drain the battery completely. One of my few gripes with this device is that there is no charge indicator (except a flashing warning light when you are low, so I heard), but you might not ever need it. As long as it is charged in the morning, you are good to go.
This contrasts with my Jambox that also claims 10 hours of battery, but it would often start chirping after about five hours of playing music. Perhaps because you need to have the sound at 100 percent volume to hear it, where as you almost never need to put the Mini Boombox at 100 percent.
When I got my Jawbone Jambox originally, I was smitten with it. It had what I thought was great sound and excellent connectivity options. I assumed this was all the volume one could get from a speaker this size. However, as time went on, I experienced shorter-than-advertised battery life, difficulty pairing with multiple devices (especially Macs), and complexity with its “apps” that I did not want or need. To connect to my iPad, for instance, I have to re-pair it every time I use it.
Enter the Logitech Mini Boombox. It is somehow smaller, simpler, sounds better (to my ears anyway), and the battery lasts longer. It also includes forward and backward buttons that can only be found on the more expensive Big Jambox. Although it somehow got some bad initial reviews (I have to blame this on bad/early units or reviewer using mono instead of stereo), commenters at both Amazon and Best Buy can attest that it is an incredible product when you consider it fits in your hand or cargo pants.
(As an aside here, 9to5Mac usually only reviews products that we would like, and we only publish stuff notably good. For me, I have NEVER been so pleasantly surprised with a product after reading otherwise mediocre reviews. If it were not for friends and family (and those Amazon reviews) saying how good it was, I would have thought something was wrong with me.)
- $150 Bluetooth speaker showdown: Jawbone Jambox vs. Logitech Wireless Boombox (9to5mac.com)
- Logitech Bluetooth Wireless Boombox for iPad for $100 + free shipping (9to5toys.com)
- Jawbone releases $299 Big Jambox, more power and features (9to5mac.com)
- Logitech Bluetooth Speaker Adapter for $33 + free shipping (9to5toys.com)
- Logitech unveils Ultrathin Keyboard Cover iPad case (9to5mac.com)