Jam Xterior Max portable speaker review

JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950) As sound quality on mobile devices improves, portable Bluetooth speakers continue to impress in both design and sound quality.

By special guest blogger Ron Leung

JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950) review

I had a chance to test the Jam Xterior Max which is a rugged Bluetooth speaker designed for the outdoor enthusiast. The speaker claims to handle rough and tumble conditions while still providing superior sound quality.

Easy set up with Jam Xterior Max

Pairing the Jam Xterior Max was very simple. As with most Bluetooth pairings these days, a typical long push of a button along with that oh-so-pleasant sounding voice and you’re off to the races. I tested the pairing on both iOS and Android without any issues.

If you’re not a Bluetooth person, the Jam does offer an auxiliary port as well, but really, in today’s wireless world who uses an auxiliary cable? Nonetheless, it’s there should you require it. I suppose it could also be used for a microphone input on karaoke night.

Using the speaker 

The Jam Xterior Max lives up to its name when it comes to durability. When I first picked up the speaker it had the weight of my trusty old Sports Walkman back in high school.

While speakers seem to be trending towards smaller and lighter, the Jam has a sturdy feel to it. Despite its beefy five pound girth the Jam is built for portability and has a super grippy exterior to help prevent accidental drops.

I setup the speaker both inside and outside of my busy downtown condo. Heavy traffic and construction noise was easily drowned out by the Jam.

For those on the go, there is even a hideous, yet functional, bike mount should you feel the need to blast your tunes along the bike paths while scaring away the geese.

Jam Xterior Max repels water, dust

Touted as a rugged waterproof speaker, the Jam boasts an IP rating of 67. The 6 indicates “dust tight” protection which will be reassuring in those dusty backyards and garages, while the 7 indicates liquid immersion protection up to one metre so you don’t have to worry about the Jam falling off the edge of the pool or hot tub. There wasn’t any heat rating provided, but if your hot tub water is THAT hot then you should probably run inside for a cold shower!

Jam Xterior Max features

The Jam Xterior Max can also connect via Bluetooth 4 up to a modest 30 feet (metres for us Canadians) so you shouldn’t have any problems connecting the Jam from your patio to your home stereo. But really since most people prefer to connect via their smart phone or tablet, proximity isn’t a major concern for most.

Charge devices on the go

JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950) The Jam does possess a special feature if you’re on the go; you can charge devices using USB. The internal battery can keep your phone or tablet fully charged as you scroll through your Netflix categories for hours trying to decide what to watch all while playing back music.

What’s ‘Max’ about Jam Xterior Max?

The Jam adds Max to its name because it’s able to absorb maximum droppage. I refrained from throwing the speaker from my third floor balcony but based on its sturdy rubber shell, light drops shouldn’t be an issue. If you are concerned about it kissing the concrete, the Jam can be screw mounted on a tripod as well using a standard camera-size thread. The thick rubber buttons are reassuring as well and can handle aggressive button pushing in case your secret playlist accidentally hits the airwaves.

Speakerphone when you need one

As with most Bluetooth speakers, the Jam has the ability to act as a speakerphone too so everyone can hear you brag about your hot tub or cause noise complaints from your local police. Nonetheless it’s a bonus feature should you choose to use it perhaps for those all nighttime karaoke parties. The voice prompt option is another handy feature and works similarly to Siri or Hey Google.

Battery Life

JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950) JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950) Optimum power consumption is not forgotten on the Jam’s beefy resume. The speaker powers through 12 hours of play time on a single charge. Just think; it only takes 5 hours to get you through your entire Led Zeppelin catalogue, so a night of entertaining on the patio or a night around the campfire should be no sweat for this speaker. Simply charging the device overnight should eliminate any power concerns.

Keep in mind the 12 hour battery life will obviously diminish should you choose to use the Jam as a charger for your phone or tablet. If you plan to use the Jam as a charger, here’s what I got; I used it to power up my iPhone 7 plus and took it from 60% battery to 100% in about an hour. The charging isn’t lightning fast by any means but it would be helpful in an emergency for sure.

Jam Xterior Max sound quality

Looks and feel aside, the real important question is how the sound quality is on the Jam Xterior Max?JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (HX-P950)

I tested the Jam with several genres of music and it performed surprisingly well. I’ve found that most Bluetooth speakers I’ve tried in the past have sounded tinny or lack any real thumping bass. The Jam’s sound quality is comparable to my home bookshelf speakers. This is especially usefully if you are using the speaker outdoor where a lot of the sound escapes. The sound was clear and true, and vibrant; overall I can’t make any complaints about audio quality.

Overall review Jam Xterior Max

Overall I found the Jam to be a great buy whether you are using it inside or outside. Its rugged portability will be a great asset for campers and hikers, and the only drawback to its durability is its weight. The 5 pound speaker will definitely weigh down a backpack but if that doesn’t bother you or if you are like me and enjoy sturdy products the Jam will do just fine.

I recommend this speaker for someone who isn’t looking for anything bright and flashy, but just a simple and easy to pair speaker that can take a beating; what the Jam lacks in flashiness, it more than makes up for with sound.

The Jam Xterior Max retails for $119 which is comparable to many of its competitors including the JBL Charge 3 ($120) and the Altec Lansing Life Jacket 2 Floating Waterproof Speaker ($130).

Fugoo Style Bluetooth speaker review: wireless audio never sounded so good

There’s hardly a home or office that doesn’t have at least one wireless Bluetooth speaker these days. (Or is that just me? Do non-tech bloggers have 4 portable wireless speakers?) Portable wireless audio has become the standard for listening to music in the home. There are larger more sophisticated versions like Sonos or Bose, but there are also many choices when it comes to smaller more portable speakers. Fugoo Style is one of those speakers. But how well does it perform and is it worth the price?

Features of Fugoo Style wireless speaker

Fugoo makes a variety of Bluetooth speakers in varying sizes, different levels of portability and several styles. The Style speaker is one of the chicest, but its good looks conceal a tough and durable interior. Fugoo says the speaker has a “fiber-reinforced resin shell and waterproof cloth covering that gives this speaker the protection it needs to last long past cocktail hour.”

The speaker is about the size of a small clutch purse or a portable coffee mug, and though it’s lightweight, it doesn’t feel cheap; it feels like it has some durability and heft behind it. it has a built in speakerphone and connects with Siri or Google Now.

It also has a changeable jacket, which is removed by pushing a release tab on the base. Without its skin, it looks very industrial, and still cool. Keeping the jacket on provides some measure of water or spill protection, so it’s probably best kept on.

Setting up Fugoo Style is easy

Setting up the Fugoo speaker couldn’t have been simpler; the first time you’ll turn it on, head to your device’s Bluetooth menu, and click on the speaker, which should have appeared in the Bluetooth devices list.  If not, you can touch the Bluetooth button next to the speaker’s power button and it should pop right up accompanied by a helpful and suave sounding male digital assistant’s voice.  I was connected and playing music in about 10 seconds. I love devices where set up is simple and flawless, so Fugoo gets high marks for this.

Fugoo Style Sound quality & volumeFugoo style poetable wireless bluetooth speaker

It can be hard to find good quality sound in a small Bluetooth speaker.  Fortunately the Fugoo Style sounded great from the get-go. The device, thought it looks like a single speaker, actually hides 4 speakers inside its housing; two in each face and two others in the ends.

Fugoo says, “the FUGOO Portable Bluetooth Speaker has six symmetrically-placed drivers. The two tweeters deliver clean highs, two mid/sub drivers give midrange punch, and two passive radiators help bring out a full, deep bass. Together, these six drivers deliver a clean sound pressure level, filling large rooms and outdoor areas with rich, immersive sound.”

I definitely found the speaker powerful and room filling, and I tested it with several styles and genres of music.

My test Playlist with the Fugoo Style

► The Roots (Don’t Say Nuthin’)
► Pharell (Beautiful)
► Dave Matthews Band (American Baby)
► City and Colour (Comin’ Home)
► Robbie Williams (I will talk and Hollywood will listen)
► Tragically Hip (Poets)
► Kiev (Be Gone Dull Cage)

The bass was solid, and the high end didn’t sound tinny or buzzy. I was able to crank it to 2/3 volume without any noticeable distortion. At about 3/4 volume I did notice a raspiness creeping in to the vocals, but overall the sound was pretty good. The sound quality overall has quite a bit of depth and the music sounded true.Fugoo style poetable wireless bluetooth speaker

The bass on Don’t say Nuthin and Poets was true and thumping, the vocals on Beautiful and Be Gone Dull Cage sounded soft and smooth, while the picking and the snare on American Baby were resonant and real. The acoustic guitar on Comin’ Home was hauntingly real. Subtle flute and clarinet, and the big symphonic drums on my Robbie Williams selection was delicately replicated, while Robbie’s voice cut through with vibrancy. I was quite impressed with the amazing sound quality I got out of this little speaker.

Fugoo adds, “the upward tilt of the speakers puts everyone in the sweet spot. So simply place your speaker in the center of a room and fill any space with sharp highs, bassy lows, and all-around premium audio.” I can’t disagree.

Does Fugoo Style have good battery life?

Many portable wireless Bluetooth speakers have a battery life in the 10-20 hour range. Fugoo Style boasts an astounding 40 hours of battery life. That’s well above many other similar speakers, so this gadget is a great choice if you’re heading to a campground or on a road trip for a weekend. I tested the speaker for about two weeks and never charged it once.

Bluetooth connectivity is outstanding on Fugoo Style

Fugoo style poetable wireless bluetooth speakerThe speaker uses Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity which Fugoo says will give you solid connectivity up to 33 feet. In my tests I carried my iPhone 6 Plus all over the 1000 square foot main floor and didn’t experience any breakup of the Bluetooth signal. Heading downstairs (where I have seen digital signal breakup on other speakers) the Fugoo Style didn’t miss a beat. Again, I was impressed.

Overall review of Fugoo Style portable wi-fi speaker

This is an absolutely fantastic Bluetooth speaker. I have to say I wasn’t expecting very much from something this small and with such an eye to style, so I was happily blown away by the outstanding audio quality and durability. The dead-easy set up also gets top marks from me.

The 40 hour battery life is also a huge plus for me. I’ve been using it in my bathroom when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. I used to just use the small crappy speaker on my iPhone, but the easy connectivity, great sound, and compact size means it can sit in the bathroom for weeks on end and provide me with high-quality audio before it ever needs to be recharged.

I think the waterproof cover is also a great thing to have since you just never know what can happen at a party or gathering; a little insurance is nice.

In short, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this speaker to anyone who’s looking for a portable Bluetooth audio solution.

 The Fugoo Style costs $139USD or about $185CAD. Get more info here.

 

 

B&O Beoplay H9 ultra premium headphones review

Bang olufsen beoplay H9In a world where it’s not unusual to spend a couple hundred dollars on premium How fheadphones comes news that ultra premium headphones may be the next big thing.

Bang & Olufsen have brought out a pair of luxe wireless headphones that costs about three times what premium phones do. Do they sound three times as good or feel three times as comfortable? I received a pair of B&O Beoplay H9 headphones for testing and review for a few days to find out. Continue reading “B&O Beoplay H9 ultra premium headphones review”

Rowkin wireless earbuds are Apple Airpods competitor

Ever since Apple announced it was removing the headphone jack from its new iPhones, the world is going crazy for completely wireless earphones. Apple’s Airpods are both a trendsetter and the gold standard when it comes to wireless headphones or earbuds. But plenty of competitors have come on the market to compete with them. Most notably, Samsung released its IconX headphones for Android phones and devices. But there’s also another option. Rowkin makes a competing set of earbuds it markets as “the world’s smallest”. While Rowkin wireless earbuds are definitely small, and cleverly designed with a rechargeable case, how well do they hold up during real-life testing, and how do they compare to Apple or Samsung’s models? I received a pair of Rowkin earbuds for testing and review. Here’s what I found after spending several weeks with them.

Continue reading “Rowkin wireless earbuds are Apple Airpods competitor”

Samsung Gear IconX wireless earbuds review

Until now truly wireless earbuds have been a bit of a myth. ‘Wireless’ has meant that the phones will connect with Bluetooth, so they don’t need a connector between the phone and your device, but they often come with a wire connecting the left to right earbud. While that’s been an ok option, some people find it distracting and annoying to have a cable flapping around your neck while doing certain activities. Enter Samsung’s new Gear IconX earbuds. With not a wire in sight, these earbuds are among the first to be totally and truly wireless. The small thumb-sized earbuds wedge right into your ears for a good slip-free fit, and connect seamlessly and wirelessly to your Samsung device whenever you pop them in. Continue reading “Samsung Gear IconX wireless earbuds review”

Reader Q and A: Glow Headphones

Since I posted an unboxing video and review of the Glow headphones, I’ve had many questions and my YouTube Channel has been pumped with inquiries seeking more info about the product.

It’s my understanding this gadget started on Kickstarter, and I’ve heard from several backers who say they’ve been left in the dark about the product they helped get to market, and they’re looking for some answers.

I’ll answer some of the questions I’ve been asked about the headphones as best I can, but it should be noted I’m a blogger and reviewer and not affiliated with Glow in any way.  My answers are based on my experience with the set I was sent for a review, so I’m afraid I can’t answer any questions about whether this is the final or exact product Glow will ship to backers. (Though it’s worth noting the headphones are currently for sale on the Bell.ca website for $199 CAD.)

These questions below reference back to a mini-review and unboxing video I posted at the end of November.  Please read and watch those for further details on the headphones. Since then I’ve been able to spend more time testing the headphones and can answer some of the questions I’ve been sent.

IMG_8523

Question: Is the package you received the final product shipping?

A: I don’t know. I received a set from a public relations contact, and they went on sale on at least one website several days later, so I assume so.

IMG_8526Question: Is that little bag the carrying case? We all were expecting a nice little case given the renders they made for us on KS and the fact we reached the milestone to get one. That bag is causing quite the uproar.

A: The little bag that comes with the phones is a faux velvet with string pull-ties. I’d say it feels synthetic, not luxurious. That said, I think it’s fine for what it’ll be used for.

The charging cable in the box was unusual; it’s not a full USB charger, it’s a flat piece of plastic with copper connectors. I’ve never used one like it before. (Photos below)

IMG_8525Question: Did it come with any more ear tips? It was supposed to include different sizes, we didn’t see any in your unboxing.

Yes, it comes with a total of 6 different pairs of tips (4 extras, 2 on the phones); both the in-ear size and the hooks for holding it in place. I didn’t find any of them fit particularly well, or felt comfortable, and I found the phones slipping easily from my ears. I have a similar shaped set of Adidas/Monster in-ear headphones with the little hooks and they are comfortable and lock in place very well. These are not at all like that.  I’d be afraid to run in these.  But this could just be my own ear shape/size.

IMG_8530
Microphone

I also felt the headphones themselves were quite light. While that’s good for portability, they didn’t feel substantial, and didn’t have the heft of other quality headphones I’ve tested this year.

The laser cables are also rather stiff, which I think contributes to them popping out easily.

Question: About the controller; How does it feel in hand? Lightweight cheap Chinese plastic, or something that looks like they put some thought into (especially considering the many delays they claimed in making it feel premium).IMG_8531

A: The controller feels very lightweight, and to use your word, “cheap”. In fact, the controller case broke open on me after a couple days, and I can’t get it to snap back together. The top with the button markings lifted off the rest of the puck, exposing the guts. I’d be concerned about its durability if I owned one. I would definitely not describe these headphones as feeling “premium”.

Question: How would you characterize the sound quality? I currently and using a pair of Beats in-ears and expect for something costing almost double to at least sound the same given the Glow. I’ve also had Bose in-ears that were even better than those.IMG_8535

I compared these to another in-ear style I have (Monster Adidas), and while it’s similar in sound quality, the Monsters feel better to me. (I also think the lack of being able to get a good in-ear fit plays into this too.) I also felt like there was noticeably less bass in the Glows. It sounded noticably tinnier (treblier??) and the Glow just didn’t give me that richness of sound that I’ve had with higher-end headphones, even when I pushed them further into my ears to get a good seal.

I then tried the Glows against an over ear style by Jabra.  There was no competition.  The sound quality of the Jabras was far and away better than the Glow.

IMG_8527
Glow inner case/round box with foam pad

Question: Would I buy the Glow headphones?

A: I wouldn’t for myself.  I didn’t like the fit, the weight, and I was disappointed at how quickly the controller broke. I also think there’s much better sounding headphones out there on the market. I would, however,  get these for a kid or a teenager, since the glowing mechanism is really cool, and it works well, and since teens and kids are probably less concerned with top quality fidelity than many adults, though these are rather expensive for something for a child to use. Overall it’s a really neat and unique new product, and I’d like to see a second generation of the Glow, if and when that happens.

More questions on the new Glow Headphones? Ask away in comments below.

IMG_8524
Extras are hidden under flaps in the box.
IMG_8534
Back side of the controller

 

 

Google Chromecast TV and Audio: what can they do for you?

Google recently announced it was updating its Chromecast platform, and expanding the line, adding an Audio streaming device to its current TV lineup.
The device got a new look, morphing from a straight stick shape, to more what you could call a “floppy disc”, which will better allow it to lay flat behind wall mounted TVs, while the addition of the new Audio device allows you to turn older speakers into ‘smart’ speakers easily.

IMG_8011Recently Best Buy sent me samples of the brand new devices to test and give my honest opinion. We’ll look at the Chromecast TV version first, then the Chromecast Audio.  For the verdict on each skip to the bottom.

Google Chromecast TV

What is Chromecast TV? What does it do? 
Very simply, Chromecast TV is an external streaming device that will allow you to play internet video content on your TV. It lets you stream video directly from apps onto your TV.

Setting up Chromecast TVrsz_chromecast_tv_box.jpg
Chromecast TV is quite easy to set up. You just take the small disc, and plug it into the back or side of your TV, wherever your HDMI ports are. (What’s HDMI? “High-Definition Multimedia Interface” is a connector in devices like TVs or stereo equipment that allows the transfer of audio and video data.)
Once the Chromecast is plugged in, you download the Chromecast TV app for your smartphone or tablet, and follow the instructions. You’ll need to set up an account, or use an existing gmail account.

Click here to ready the full blog review on both the TV Chromecast and the Audio version on the Best Buy Plug In Blog.

 

 

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