Jawbone’s Jambox too clever by two-thirds

The search for decent wireless audio continues. For me, audio quality is much less important than features and reliability. Jawbone’s Jambox has some fascinating qualities, but even more enfuriating problems. For instance, I love the low latency, and I think it’s pretty great how audio output automatically switches to the Jambox when I turn it on.

Much less charming — but kind of amusing — is the way the Jambox hijacks my audio while I’m walking down the street 60 feet below my apartment. That’s not useful. That’s just a pain. The folks at Jawbone couldn’t have guessed that auto-connecting to a Jambox could be inconvenient to the point of absurdity at the outer limits of Bluetooth range?

It gets worse. No review I read (and I’ve read some glowing reviews of the Jambox) mentioned this total crap: Jambox hijacks all device audio — every keyboard click, every notification, every ring — with no configuration options. So, for instance, if the Jambox is in the bathroom, and I’m in the living room 40 feet away with my iPhone, and someone calls me … guess where you can hear the ring? Or not hear it, more likely? That’s right: in the bathroom! Or if I type a reply to a message? Keyboard clicking in the bathroom (and, more to the point, not on my phone).

And worse still: Jambox talking randomly in the middle of the night. That’s just a fucking brilliant feature.

All of these are classic examples of technology being too clever by half (or two thirds maybe), enforcing some really bad guesses about what the user wants. (No, I do not want my wireless speaker to talk to me in the night.) I want a speaker that plays media only — and only when I say so, not every time my iPhone re-finds the speaker.