Hands on with the new Big Jambox

Jawbone has released its long-rumored followup to the beloved Jambox Bluetooth speaker. As Jawbone’s vice president for product management and strategy Travis Bogard told me, “Sometimes, there are situations where you want more sound” than even the most powerful 1.5-pound speaker can afford. “That’s why we made the Big Jambox.”

[For more, check out my full review of the Big Jambox.]

At $299, the Big Jambox costs $100 more than its younger, less-developed brother. It weighs 2.7 pounds, measuring 10 inches wide, 3.5 inches tall, and just over 3 inches deep. So the “Big” in “Big Jambox” is relative: It’s big compared to the Jambox, but a far cry from huge. “Jambox is ultra-portable; Big Jambox is portable,” Bogard says. You can comfortably hold the Big Jambox in one hand to tote it around—though, as it lacks the thick rubber padding on either side of the original Jambox, you might want to be a smidgen more careful with it.

The Big Jambox comes in red, white, or black, and sports not just the Volume and Phone buttons that the original used, but playback controls as well: play/pause, previous, and next.

The original Jambox used a sliding power switch to double as the pairing mode control—you held the switch up for a moment to start pairing. The Big Jambox eschews that approach, with dedicated power and pairing buttons on the side. Two devices can pair with the Big Jambox at the same time.

LiveAudio, Jawbone’s audio plug-in that simulates three-dimensional sound, comes built into the Big Jambox; you toggle it on and off by holding down the two volume buttons. In practice, on many songs, the effect is surprisingly strong—audio seems to come at your ears from a wider stereo spectrum than a device the Big Jambox’s size would appear to be able to generate.

And like the smaller version, the Big Jambox can connect with Jawbone’s MyTalk service, which lets you install other voices and apps onto the speaker.

While the original Jambox shipped with a slim carrying pouch, a carrying case for the Big Jambox is a separate $49 purchase.

The Big Jambox is available for pre-order beginning Tuesday, and will be available in stores (including the Apple Store, Best Buy, AT&T, and Verizon stores) starting May 15. Here’s a video tour:

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