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There's a new portable speaker in town, and this one BOOMS. The JBL Flip is a bluetooth rechargeable speaker that packs some serious audio into a small package. It features dual-drivers, a 5-hour lithium-ion battery, extreme portability, and even a microphone for phone calls, facetiming, or bossing around Siri.
What's in the Box
-JBL Flip Speaker
The JBL Flip is a cylandrical speaker that's sized perfectly. It's just large enough to pack some immense sound, while being small enough to easily throw in a backpack or pocketbook. It's about as long as a pencil with a diameter of an iPhone. You can perfectly grip the flip with one hand. Luckily it's not an exact cylander, otherwise it'd roll away; there's a base and a grip which rests nicely on any surface. You can also stand the Flip on either one of it's sides; it will slant slightly because of the design, but it works fine.
In terms of buttons and ports, the design is simple. There is a charging port and auxiliary (input) port on the back of the speaker and four buttons on one side. The four buttons are volume up and down, on/off toggle, and the phone/voice command button. Unfortunately, there's no music controls. The power button is also the pairing button and it's illuminated by an LED status light.
The JBL Flip is a very clean looking speaker; it's definitely appealing. It's not flashy, overly branded, or abnomrally funky. It has a black or white wrap-around metal speaker grille with silver trim. It will look nice in virtually any setting. The "Flip" implies that you can lay it down or stand it up, whatever's more convenient. The speaker has some nice heft to it. It feels like it's probably a pound, but it's very solid and seems like it could withstand most any trip even without the included neoprene case.
The JBL Flip is a bluetooth wireless speaker with an auxiliary input in case you want to plug your music player straight in. Bluetooth should be compatible with most any bluetooth audio player, whether it's a computer or Android/iOS/Windows mobile or tablet device. The bluetooth profile supports microphone usage, so you'll be able to video chat, voice chat, or make phone calls using the JBL Flip. It's just like a speakerphone. You can even use Siri with it by holding the phone button for a couple seconds.
The Flip features two 1-5/8 inch drivers and a built-in bass port. In bright light, the drivers can be seen through the metal speaker grill. It has a built in digital signal processor (DSP) to generate "room-filling audio with great bass" out of such a compact speaker.
The JBL Flip is loud, like surprisingly loud. We recently reviewed Philips' Shoqbox portable speaker which is larger in size, and the Flip gets a lot louder… so loud it can hurt to be close to it. It's loud enough to provide ample tunes for a small party. Even at such high volumes, the audio is still pretty good. There is some distortion, but it's kind of expected at such a high volume for such a little speaker. The bass on the Flip is pretty nice, there's just enough without adversely affecting the music. These types of portable speakers can sometimes have issues with rattling from bassy music, but it wasn't a problem with the Flip. At a regular volume, the audio is good, but not amazing. It lacks a certain crispness, but it's still pretty detailed and honestly impressive for its size. The mids can sound a tad muffled, but other than that it's pretty balanced.
I got mixed feedback from my phone calls on the JBL Flip. The overall consensus was 'it sounds like you're on a speakerphone, it's fine.' I made calls with the Flip right up to my face, or on a table 4 feet away, and apparently it sounds about the same. I found calls to be okay on the listening end, maybe a bit fuzzy.
I love the overall build, size, and appearance of the speaker. It looks nice in just about any setting, also it's convenient to transport around the house. Since it's so small and powerful I've been using it as a shower speaker, leaving it (and my phone) out of harms way on the bathroom counter. The included neoprene case is a nice touch. My only real gripe is that it doesn't use a standard USB cable for recharging, it needs the included AC wall charger. 5 hours seems like a long time for a portable speaker, but it's actually a bit below average for these types of speakers.
If you're looking for a portable wireless speaker, or a more affordable alternative to the popular Jawbone Jambox, then look no further. In terms of booming portability the JBL Flip takes the cake. It's an amazing device to bring around the house, you can always find room for it! These types of small wireless bluetooth speakers are trending right now and JBL provides a ton of value with their $99 price tag. It's available in black or white and will ship for free as soon as it's back in stock at JBL.com
The Good: Loud, Portable, Included Neoprene Case, Built-In Mic, Nice Price, Durable
The Bad: No USB Charging, Lacks Clarity, Shorter Battery Life than Competition, Phone Call Clarity is Okay
JBL Flip Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review was first posted on October 11, 2012 at 8:22 am.
© 2012 Chip Chick
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