Jawbone JAMBOX update – It falls well

One other thought regarding my Jawbone JAMBOX, I’ve discovered that it’s surprisingly robust when it comes to being dropped.

How have I discovered this? Well, I put it on a counter top, table or other large flat surface, turn it on and do whatever else I’m doing. A couple of hours later it has vibrated itself off the desk and hit the floor.

So far, no dents and no apparent damage, but it makes me wonder about the long-term viability as speakers don’t usually handle repeated impacts particularly well. Blah.

On the plus side, since giving up even trying to pair to multiple devices, it’s been an absolutely fantastic speaker. Can’t wait to take it travelling again!

Jawbone JAMBOX

So as a more-than-occasional traveler, I’m always looking for gadgets and gizmos to make hotel rooms a bit more comfortable. Until recently, I was carrying a Logitech mm28 Portable Speaker, which despite having mixed reviews, was more than adequate. Unfortunately mine haven’t aged well and it was time for a replacement.

I went looking for a Bluetooth solution, preferably with it’s own batteries and USB/5v rechargeable batteries as I have little desire to start carrying spare batteries on me and I ended up with a Jawbone JAMBOX. At $199 MSRP, they’re on the expensive end of “Hey, it’s just a speaker” but given the value of having a decent solution, I felt it was worth trying. At this point odds are better than 50/50 that it’s getting boxed up and returned.

Lets be clear: the sound is great! It could be a bit louder, but it’s probably loud enough to annoy a neighbour in a hotel with thin walls, and is just right for most hotels or single room use, which is pretty much the point. Better, it doubles as a speakerphone and the quality is far better than the iPhone’s built-in speaker, so that’s fantastic. The out-of-the-box-experience is fantastic too, it has a very satisfying rumble in your hand the first time you power it on.

The box is high quality, opens up easily, the speaker is well placed at the top with an accessory USB cable, charger and 3.5mm cable. Great, almost. The website says this is what’s in the box:

  2. 60″ micro USB charging cable
  3. 12.5″ micro USB charging cable
  4. 36″ 3.5mm stereo cable
  5. Carrying case
  6. A/C wall charger
  7. User guide

Mine had only one micro USB charging cable, not the two described. No big deal. The “Carrying case” is just a thick cardboard envelope folded up, it’s better than nothing, but it’s nothing to get excited about.

What is more of a pain, however, is the Bluetooth support, specifically the quasi-multipoint hack. It remembers up to 8 pairings at any one time and out of the box only connects to the most recently used device. I paired to my iPhone and iPad initially, planning on possibly pairing to another device later. Being late at night and having upcoming travel, I headed off to bed. I turned the speaker on and it helpfully paired with my iPad charging in another room and I couldn’t find any way to force it over to the iPhone pairing. A quick trip to Google didn’t help, but indicated that I could enable multi-point (to allow it to connect to multiple devices at once) via the web interface. Great, I connect up the USB cable, install drivers/software on my laptop, upgrade the firmware and turn on multi-point support, restart everything. It connects up to my phone, and boom, sound comes out the iPhone speaker. Fail.

A couple more tries and it turns out that although the JAMBOX technically can connect to two devices at once, only which one it decides is first gets speaker support, the other only gets the headset profile. Unfortunately there’s no way to predict which device will actually connect first; it tries to connect to the most recently connected result but in practice, it seems to hit either device randomly and the other, well, it’s audio doesn’t go to the speaker.

Oh and worse, so once I figure out that it’s talking to the wrong device, is it enough to disconnect from the device in question? Of course not, you have to disconnect from both devices, kill Bluetooth on one, then re-connect from the other.

A hobbled implementation is one thing, but an unpredictable/unreliable UI might just be too much of a pain; for $200, could we at least get the power/pairing switch to flip to the next paired device?

Kindle 3

I got a Kindle 3! Yay!

All in all, so far, I love this device. I’ve been reading books on my iPhone and iPad so far, but at this point, I’d highly recommend it!

I got the $139 version which has wifi only, but for $189 you can snag a 3G version that will let you download eBooks from anywhere without setting up your own wireless network.

So to start with it, the packaging is very Apple-like. So is the charger. That’s nice. It doesn’t come in a shipping box, the box it comes in IS the shipping box, that’s a damn nice design to avoid wasted packing materials.

Out of the box is a nice experience; the Kindle itself is wrapped in plastic and the screen has instructions on how to get started printed on it. If you want to look like less of a fool than me, you won’t try and pry them off since unlike most devices that have a beautifully printed plastic cover over the screen, the startup instructions are the screen itself! Talk about a great first impression.

Oh, and yes, there is a charger plus a USB cable included in the box. Another nice touch in a day where $300 devices *cough*iPod Touch*cough* don’t include power adapters.

I already have a Kindle account and read eBooks on my iPad and iPhone, when I fired up the Kindle it was pre-configured to my Amazon account and once I got wifi connected, I was immediately able to download books that I’d already purchased.

The screen is absolutely beautiful, the Kindle is so much lighter than I’d expected, and it’s a very comfortable fit in the hand. There are page-turn buttons on the left and right, so it’s great regardless of which hand you’re using at that particular moment.

Unfortunately I did have one fairly major problem with the wifi setup. On the plus side it should work fine for most normal home networks, the problem only occurs when using a configuration that is more common in business networks.

If you really care about the details, read on:

It’s looking like a bug in Kindle’s network stack.  Specifically, the device breaks when a DHCP server returns this configuration:

Subnet Mask:
Default Gateway:
DNS Server:

After the Kindle obtains an IP address, it attempts to send a DNS lookups to, but routes the packets to the default gateway instead of correctly delivering them to the local network.

Interestingly this works on “normal” home LANs where is both a router and DNS server, but breaks on a more “corporate” style LAN where the router/firewall/default-gateway is not the DNS server.

I’ve reported the problem to Amazon’s support, we’ll see how much hassle it is to get through the first level support droid.