Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Portable entertainment

Presenting the gems in portable entertainment.

In the category of portable entertainment, what once was filled with different portable music players has been replaced instead by accessories that go along with the iPod, iPhone or other smartphone device that can play music. Listening to music is no longer dedicated to a single device, but part of a comprehensive device. Instead, our portable entertainment category features a variety of cool earphones and speaker systems that you can take along with you when you travel or go running.

Watch a slideshow version of some of these products.

Products reviewed in this category

Jambox Bluetooth speakers, by Jawbone

Zipbuds earphones, by Digital Group Audio

People Get Ready earphones, by The House of Marley

True Fidelity Sound Isolation Sport Earphones, by Able Planet

Rock-IT 2.0 portable vibration speaker, by OrigAudio

EP-100 earphones, by dBLogic (division of Harman)

People Get Ready headphones - Redemption Song version, by The House of Marley

Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player, by SanDisk

MusiCALL stereo bluetooth headset, by Bluetrek

Legion ear buds, by iFrogz

Foxl personal audiophile loudspeaker, by Soundmatters

The reviews

Jambox Bluetooth speaker, by Jawbone

The Jambox is a very stylish and small Bluetooth speaker shaped like a small brick, but light enough to travel with, yet powerful enough to produce fantastic sound from your portable music player or smartphone (up to 85 decibels of sound). The speakers also produce 360-degrees of sound, so you can place it in the middle of a room and people in front, to the sides or behind the speaker will be able to hear the sound. In addition to producing music for your smartphone or music player, the Jambox works with apps on the device, and can also produce sound from apps on your tablet, so you can get better sound when playing games or watching movies, for example.

The Jambox also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker phone - if you're listening to music and a call comes in, the device pauses the audio and turns into the speaker phone. The 360-degree speakers then make it very optimal for a conference room situation where everyone around the conference table can hear the caller.

Buttons on the Jambox are simple, on the top of the unit there are two volume buttons (plus and minus), and a circular talk button that also wakes up the device for pairing with your Bluetooth phone or music player. On one side of the Jambox is the on/off and pairing switch (the on/off switch is good for saving battery life), a 3.5mm audio input for connecting an audio player directly, and a Micro USB charging port. I particularly liked how Jawbone gives you everything in the box, including two different charging cable lengths, the audio cable, a power outlet charger and a carrying case for the Jambox. It comes in a choice of four cool colors (red dot, black diamond, blue wave or grey hex).

One additional nice touch - the Jambox has an internal voice that tells you whether it's in pairing mode, when the device is connected, and how much battery life the device has left. This definitely makes the pairing process much easier than without a voice.

If you have a gift recipient who wants a dual device that can act as a music speaker and speakerphone for their smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth-enabled device, the Jambox is a stylish, yet very functional speaker system that will impress them.

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars
Price: $200
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

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