In his new column Microsoft Infrastructure Evangelist Simon May explores gadgets that the average IT guy will find useful – ‘cos we all love our gadgets. First up is the turn of the Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker, Simon looks into what makes it good and why it suits the IT guy in him.
A few weeks ago I decided to start writing this column and started looking for the first gadgets to review, fortuitously I won a Jawbone Jambox in an internal competition and the subject of the first article become obvious. The model I won was a special edition, not the one pictured here but a really nice purple and grey number.
The device itself feels really solid, it’s got a good weight to it – not enough to knock someone out, just enough so it doesn’t move. The top and bottom are made from a non-slip rubber that keeps it firmly located and on the top there’s buttons for adjusting the volume and getting the jam box to tell you how much battery is left. On the side of the device are the on/off and paring switch, a 3.5mm jack and a micro USB connector.
Powering on the Jambox makes a satisfying thud from the base and powering it off is like turning off a small robot, or at least what I imagine that would be like. Pushing the power button up puts the device into Bluetooth pairing mode and there’s a really nice Star Trek like communicator noise to accompany it. The Jambox comes with a 3.5mm audio cable to directly connect to devices but I’ve actually only found myself using it over Bluetooth directly paired to my phone.
The sound quality is great, amazing actually for such a tiny unit (it’s about 20cm by 15cm). The very cool thing that I realised quickly (I don’t read the manual I’m an IT guy) is that this thing is actually also a great unified comms device. When it pairs with your phone it pairs as a music device and a headset. Jawbone’s history of great audio from their Bluetooth headsets comes through strongly and the noise cancelling and audio pickup are great. I’ve had some of the best Lync call experiences over the past couple of weeks with this.
Also in the box is a micro-USB cable to connect it to your PC so that the software in the Jambox can be upgraded. If you don’t like voice that comes built into the Jambox you can change it really easily with Jawbone’s myTalk software.
The really attractive thing about the Jambox is that it has a battery built in and charged through the micro-USB and that battery makes it a go anywhere device…anywhere like a server room!
Back in the day when I was doing real work – server admin stuff – I worked in the usual noisy datacentre and I’d spend a good few hours standing at servers, usually bored out my brain. Quite often we’d break out the radio and turn it on but it’d need to be over the other side of the room and would be virtually inaudible. Of course we couldn’t wear headphones in the room lest the halon alarm (we had one of these!) went off and we didn’t hear it – that would have been bad! I thought then that a little real world test of the Jambox was in order…
So I went down to my nearest datacentre, swiped my access card and went in. Immediately I was hit by the burrrrr drone of the fans and the air con and that smell…every datacentre I’ve ever been in smells the same. It’s a kind of electric, dust and sweat smell that I know you know. Anyway I digress. The noise was enough to make us have to shout at each other, I took a friend because I shouldn’t be loose in a production DC. We were stood infront of a FlexPod with some additional Cisco kit and Net-App storage, it was kinda loud…then I Bluetooth’d some music from my phone to the Jambox. It wasn’t enough to drown out the fans but it was plenty good enough to hear. If I’d been standing at a KVM setting up some kit I would have been well entertained. Test past.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this first Gadgets for the IT guy post and you’re thinking you too want to go grab a nice little USB speaker. If you’ve got any thoughts on the next thing you’d like me to try and obtain to try out then let me know in the comments. Of course if you’d like me to review your product then drop me an email.