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Loud & Proud; Mini Jambox and Nokia MD-12 review

Jawbone is on the process of rolling our their american favourites in South Africa. With the release of the Mini Jambox, we had to put it against Nokia’s MD-12.

Jawbone Mini Jambox

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Jawbone’s R1999 Mini Jambox portable Bluetooth speaker is confusing at first. It’s taller than the original Jambox, but still much smaller overall, and it’s around the same price as the standard version. So what’s the difference, and who should buy this slim speaker?

The simple answer to the second part of that question is that anyone considering the original Jambox should buy the Mini Jambox instead. The Mini Jambox sounds a whole lot like the original version of the speaker, with no significant changes—and it’s considerably more portable, to boot.

The Mini Jambox measures a bit over 6-inch wide, about 2.3 inches tall, and just under an inch thick. That makes it about the same width as the standard Jambox and barely taller, but the Mini is a dramatic 1.2 inches thinner. On top of that, the Mini weighs only 250 grams—about a third less than the original Jambox’s weight.

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Jawbone is hoping you’ll think this new miniaturized version qualifies as pocket-size—the company pitches the Mini Jambox as something you’ll tote around each day with your phone and wallet. The speaker is certainly rugged enough that I’d feel comfortable tossing it into my backpack, but I think I’d cram it into a pocket only if I knew I’d be needing it. The device is still not small enough for me to make it part of my everyday pocket essentials.

The Mini Jambox sounds a lot like the original Jambox. And that’s a good thing—the original Jambox sounds nice. The biggest difference to my ears is that, as you might expect, bass presence on the little guy isn’t as noticeable as on the original. It has some oomph, and you can certainly feel the Mini Jambox kick when you turn the speaker on or hold it in your hand, but don’t expect any significant thumping.

Bass aside, the Mini Jambox plays as loud as the original does. Jawbone reps told me that the company believes that the Mini Jambox sounds louder because of its shape and acoustic trickery. That’s especially true when you use the Mini Jambox’s Live Audio mode. This software plug-in—which you must download and install from the Web by connecting the speaker to your Mac or PC via the Micro-USB cable—aims to simulate a more-spacious sound, and it mostly works if you’re using the Mini Jambox as a personal speaker for one, with the speaker sitting right in front of you. (With the original Jambox, Live Audio made music sound dramatically quieter; that’s less of a problem with the Mini Jambox.) I enjoyed Live Audio mode when using the Mini Jambox at my desk, toggling it back to normal mode when I brought the speaker into the kitchen to provide the family with some dinner music.

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Besides the lack of substantial bass presence, the biggest knock against the Mini Jambox is that, in mid 2014, what it accomplishes is no longer that special. Although the original Jambox, which debuted in 2010, impressed because of the amount of sound its creators coaxed from such a small package, such a feat is commonplace these days—you can find countless compact Bluetooth speakers (many of them inspired by the original Jambox) that put out big sound. Still, the Mini Jambox is even smaller, and it sounds nearly as good.

Nokia’s MD-12 Bluetooth Speaker

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The Nokia MD-12 was announced to the globe earlier in April, just as the Nokia Lumia 930 and 630 was. Little did we know we were to receive this super bass monster as gifts at the Windows Phone Mobile event. The Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker is priced at around R999.

Nokia’s portable wireless speaker is really small. It has a diameter of 84mm and is just under 4cm in height. This is much smaller than the previous Nokia JBL speakers.  The one that I am reviewing today is in a vibrant yellow colour. The colour is amazing. The front is very minimalist with the Nokia Logo and power button. On the back of the device you will find a 3.5mm audio in and a micro USB for charging the device.  The MD-12 weighs 180g and it feels very sturdy. This is another excellent product from Nokia. No complaints at all about the build quality, the product is excellent.

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When you hold this light and tiny speaker, the truth is that you don’t really know what to expect. On the packaging Nokia has written in big letters: Small & Cool. Loud & Proud (see what we did with this title?). Let me tell you something, Nokia is telling the truth; This little speaker is really loud, full of bass and is really a joy to use. Personally I would not have the volume louder than level 8 as the speaker starts to vibrate and loses sound quality. The sound is surprisingly clear and loud for such a small device. Of course don’t expect to use the NOKIA MD-12 to entertain a home party with 50 people because it is not designed for that. But by your bed, office, living room, etc this portable speaker will do the job, and do it very well.

Bottom Line

With all of that said, both the Mini Jambox and Nokia MD-12 are delightful little speakers. They sound and look bright, clear, and punchy. While it’s not the speaker for a rollicking multiroom party, they works great around the house, as the soundtrack for a small gathering, for personal listening, and for allowing everyone crowded around an iPad to hear the latest viral video they’re watching.

Should you buy the Mini Jambox? That depends. If you already own a regular Jambox, you don’t need this one. If you want true room-filling sound, the Big Jambox is the best Jambox.

Should you buy the Nokia MD-12? Well, that too depends. if you’re on the look for a great, portable, wireless speaker that is super-friendly on the pocket, this one is for you. And plenty of great compact Bluetooth speakers are on the market.

So it really comes down to how much you value portability. For its size, the Mini Jambox is still quite impressive. If you crave portability and battery power, and if you are willing to sacrifice bass and volume to get them, the Md-12 is a solid buy.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.