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.

 

 

Bang & Olufsen B&O Beoplay A2 review

Portable wireless speakers have become the standard for many homes. After all, if you’re not ready to invest in a premium home theatre system, chances are a wireless system or speaker will fill the void until you are. That’s why companies from basic to elite are offering portable options. But more than just a compact size, you want a small speaker that will sound good, be able to fill a room, and give you true-to-life audio. Bang & Olufsen (or B&O for short) have entered this market with some portable wireless speakers that not only aim to look cool but sound great too. I recently received a test sample of the B&O Beoplay A2 speaker for testing and review in my home. Continue reading “Bang & Olufsen B&O Beoplay A2 review”

Top 10 tech gadgets of 2016

I’ve tested a lot of gadgets and gear this year. Picking favourites is hard, because unlike previous years, many of the items that have come into the tech test kitchen in 2016 are really high quality, and work well, so picking the cream of the crop is a challenge. Nevertheless, here are the Top 10 tech gadgets I highly recommend having in your life. Continue reading “Top 10 tech gadgets of 2016”

LG Music Flow H3 speaker review

LG Music Flow H3 4All about the LG Music Flow H3 wireless portable speaker – Wireless portable speakers are popular because they can be placed in any room, they sound great, and often they’re easy to set up and use, integrating seamlessly into your life.  If only that were the case with the LG Musicflow H3 Smart Hi-Fi Audio speaker I have been reviewing since a unit was first shipped to me back in May.

Basics of the LG Music Flow H3 Speaker

The LG Music Flow H3 is a small, portable speaker.  It measures about 5” by 7” and pushes out 30 watts of sound. The speaker is heavy, which made me think it was solidly built, and a great user experience was ahead of me. The speaker comes in black or white, and requires just an AC power connection; you’re supposed to be able to control everything else through your smartphone or device. The speaker is supposed to let you play music, podcasts, or Google Cast streaming services (like TuneIn Radio, Pandora or Spotify) among other things.

Watch the short video review below, or click through HERE to read the full text of the review I did for Best Buy Canada.

 

Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ErinLYYC.

Reviewing the Sony “Extra Bass” SRS-XB2 wireless speaker

Sony extra bass 3Summer is the perfect season to test wireless portable speakers; whether travelling, camping, having friends over, or spending hours outdoors working on the yard, or barbecuing with buddies, there are all kinds of reasons you may want music on the go.

It was good timing, then, that the Sony SRS-XB2 Extra Bass landed on my desk for testing and review. This small pill-shaped wireless speaker is fully portable and rechargeable, but feels substantial all the same.

Setting up the Sony SRS-XB2 Extra Bass

Frequently I have trouble getting Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices set up, and so do many others. It’s not that we’re inept, it’s that some electronic gadgets can be finicky, or perhaps their software and app handshaking isn’t fully bug-free yet.Sony extra bass 6

Not so with the Sony SRS-XB2 Extra Bass; and let’s just call it the “Extra Bass” from now on, ok? This speaker set up on the first try, and I was pumping out music in about 35 seconds after it was unboxed. It uses a Bluetooth connection to hook up to the music on your phone or tablet, and as I said, it’s very easy to connect. This is the kind of speaker you could get for your grandparents and leave them unattended with. The Extra Bass also stays connected via Bluetooth; you don’t have to set up, reconnect, or re-pair each time you use it, making it very quick and easy to use. Just hit the power button and dial up your music, podcasts or internet radio.

Right out of the box, the speaker does have a noticeably solid bass thump to it, which I enjoyed. Plus the cool colour options (blaze orange, and blue) make it more fun that a typical wireless speaker.

Want to know more? Read the full review on the Best Buy Canada Plug-In blog OR watch my video review on YouTube.

Some COOL gadgets & things at CES

img_8990Expect an array of COOL gadgets to fill your feeds this week! It’s CES week;  the annual Consumer Electronics Show. (Read what it is and why it’s a big deal here).

I’m in Las Vegas covering the show, and already there are some amazing gadgets I’ll be seeking out because they’re unique and unusual.  Here’s a preview.

Oree Stylograph: ‘Magic’ Pen & Paper

This has to be one of the coolest things I’ve seen recently. I tried to get a sample to show on TV, but CES is crazy busy  (and so is Oree) and I wasn’t able to show it off on CTV.  Oree Stylograph takes your drawings, doodles and notes from a special notebook and pen combo, and automagically transfers them to your smart device.

Orée Stylograph from Orée on Vimeo.

BlueSmart Luggage: Connected carry-on luggage

bluesmartThis luggage will not only charge up your phone and any other connected device, but if your bag goes missing, Bluesmart combines GPS and 3G technology to track your suitcase anywhere in the world.It also boasts a secure (and TSA approved) digital lock to keep your stuff safe. Toss in the built-in scale and special easy-access laptop compartment and this bag is business traveller’s dream.

Mars Speaker by Crazybaby: a Levitating Speaker

Want to impress your friends, or just stare into something soothing? This levitating speaker will give you audio amplification, plus it’s an amazing showpiece.

Never Worry About Forgotten Keys Again: Dog and Bone Smart Padlock

dog and bone

I think smart padlocks are brilliant.  The new Dog and Bone lock is made of secure steel, you open open it using your smart device. You can track who uses the lock each time it’s opened,  you can grant others (gardener, nanny) access too, either one time, regular times and days or all-access. You can even open the lock by granting digital access to someone from across the world.

Ampware Crank Case: Make Your Own Power

ampware caseA generator built into this phone case lets you crank up one amp of power. What does that mean?  About 5 minutes of cranking gives you about an hour of charge; more if you want to kick into standby mode. The case also provides protection against drops. This case would be excellent for outdoors types, who might spend a full day away from a power outlet (gasp!).

I’ll be posting more updates with really cool things from January 6-9 so check back to see what’s new! Follow my CES posts too on Twitter and Instagram, both are @ErinLYYC