JBL Charge Hardware Review

JBL Charge Hardware Review

Aug 30, 2013

Wireless audio is a must-have, almost. When companies with JBL’s rep spit out stuff like the Charge Bluetooth speakers, it generally pays to take heed.

First, the hardware itself: the review piece was the blue colored unit, which was a pleasant change from the sometimes drab black that most electronic pieces seem to come in nowadays. For those weird folks that are not enthralled with everything Carolina Blue, there is grey and green.

It’s a deliberate item, likened to a well-hewn cylinder with somewhat shaped edges. The speaker grills cover a good portion of the body, and the ones on the one end hint at the possibilities with regards to placement during use. There are charging spot and a 3.5mm aux-in ports at the back of the unit, and a covered USB slot at one end.charge1

What the Charge claims to do well is transmit music. The pairing prices was seamless for all the Android devices I paired it with; it’s a simple matter is discovery and selection. On my main device, it reconnected easily enough as long as I hadn’t paired anything else to it in the interim. It also connects well with my laptop.

I’ve said it before: I don’t rate orchestras in my spare time, but I think the sound quality from the unit is impressive. It handles  audio files with reasonable aplomb, from Brit pop (don’t judge me) to audio translations from YouVersion. It’s nice to be able to test equalizer and actually hear the difference in the rendering of music. There isn’t really an explosion of bass, but I am okay with that.

I really like the extras; the charging cable and pouch are nice. The Charge can be placed upright, can be used while charging and, with the included USB cable, can also trickle charge devices. Not bad. Especially nice is the ability to plug in devices via male-to-male 3.55 mm cables.

In my testing, I was able to play music and podcasts continuously for about 9 hours straight; I did notice some static and connectivity issues when tethered via bluetooth short of a several dozen feet away. Unlike it’s stablemate (the JBL Flip), this one doesn’t have a speakerphone toggle, and a dedicated app would have been an acceptable form of vanity.

It was a surprisingly nice item, and competes well with similarity priced speakers and docks.

The JBL Charge is available from the JBL site and/or Amazon for $149 at the time of this review.