How to turn your iPad into a boombox

November 5, 2010: 12:52 PM ET

Jawbone's latest offering, the Jambox, is a Bluetooth speaker. But that description belies just how badly you'll want one.

There have been two reactions from people that occur without fail during the 12 hours a bright blue Jambox has been sitting on my desk. The first is some form of, "Whoa, what is it?"  I then explain it is a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, and yes, the music that is pumping out of it is streaming from my phone. After that, the second reaction is a quick and direct, "I want one."

How arresting is the Jambox? I had a trio in my office about to pitch me on their latest startup. The CEO, a technology and design pro who has been at some of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley, stopped his pitch in mid-stream.  Like a raccoon drawn to something shiny, he reached out for the speaker. Once we got its purpose established (reaction one), he went quickly to how do I get one? (reaction two).  With that out of the way, he went back to pitching his very cool company.

I am just warning you, when you see the $199 brick of cheddar cheese-sized speaker, you are going to want one, if not two. The initial reason is because they look beautiful. Not surprisingly since Jawbone's creative director Yves Behar was running the design of the Jambox, it looks every as bit as stunning as the Jawbone headsets with a very similar industrial, yet fun looking theme. Wrapped completely around the speaker are painted metal grills formed in a variety of patterns, from diamonds, to dimples and a hatch pattern you might see on high-end sail fabric. Rubber caps the top and bottom. They come in red, blue, silver and black.

But what are you going to use it for?  This is the really good part, a whole lot. Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman, describes the Jambox as an updated version of the boomboxes that spread the sounds of the early days of hip-hop. The Jambox makes sharing your music, or that movie you are watching or game you are playing on your iPad dead simple. My guess is iPad owners are going to eat these things up when they drop in Apple stores and some Best Buy stores on November 16.

You can stream music from your phone, laptop, desktop, iPad anything that is Bluetooth enabled (no Wi-Fi, but I bet that comes in another version). Drop your Jambox in the middle of the room, fire up the iPhone, and instant dance party. OK, that might be overstating things a bit. The speaker is very good for its size, it's a stereo package containing all sorts of audio wizardry that I won't get into, but it's no wall of sound. For those with iPods, there is a standard headphone connecter as well.

And when you are not trying to pull off your old "Wild Style" dance moves or playing games, the Jambox can act as a speakerphone. With Jawbone's MyTALK audio applications installed you can get spoken caller ID, hands-free calling and other features yet to come. You can even get the speaker to tell you how much battery reserve it has in French. Try that with the speakers you use today.

If you missed out on the boombox boom of the '80s you can get in now. And if  you were there, cue up A Tribe Called Quest, dust off those shell toes and check out the Jambox.

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About This Author
Michael Copeland
Michael Copeland

Michael V. Copeland joined FORTUNE as a senior writer in September 2007. Copeland has covered everything from electric cars to e-readers. He is a creator of Tech Mate, an irreverent video series in which he debates (and skewers) digital issues of the day. Before joining FORTUNE, Copeland was a senior writer at Business 2.0. Copeland graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

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