Review: JBL Flip bluetooth wireless speaker
December 3, 2012 by Bill Palmer
by Bill Palmer
Beatweek Best Sub-$100 Portable Bluetooth Speaker for 2013
As smartphone and tablet users increasingly decide they want their device in their hands so they can use it, and not docked in a stereo, bluetooth soundbars may be on their way to becoming the hottest product of 2013. The ratio of size vs audio quality vs price has proved to be a tricky one, but the JBL Flip is one of the few to thread the needle just about perfectly.
Like so many other products of its kind, the premise of the Flip is simple: the audio from your mobile device travels wirelessly to the stereo, whether it be the music you’re listening to while catching up on your email, or the audio from the game you’re playing. And since it runs on battery and is small enough to be carried, you can carry it with you around the house or out of the house.
What makes the Flip so impressive is that while its cylindrical design is only about six inches wide and about two inches in circumference, it offers the audio potency of a much larger system. The bass is significant and can be turned fairly loud without losing fidelity, and the treble is crisp. There are a number of other $99 bluetooth soundbars here in my office, and none of them sound remotely comparable.
The Flip also throws in a few bonuses. One is that you can use it to take phone calls. Another is that, unlike some of its competitors, it includes volume buttons of its own instead of forcing you to rely solely on your mobile device’s volume settings. And while it’s a fairly common inclusion, it’s worth mentioning that the Flip does have an aux-in port for those times when you want to use it with a non-bluetooth device or don’t want to mess with your bluetooth settings.
There is one potential caveat. Many bluetooth speakers include a USB cable under the assumption that you’re going to charge it via your computer. The Flip includes a wall charger instead. Whether that’s a positive or negative will depend on your intended usage. By virtue of its wireless nature, of course, the Flip provides no method of recharging your mobile device.
At double the price, there are better sounding and smaller bluetooth speakers than this one. But the JBL Flip owns the $99 price range, and it’s up to other vendors to come up with something comparable.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 • Price: $99 • jbl.com