• Audio quality
  • Coolness factor
  • Durability
  • Price

The HMDX Jam is a self-contained rechargeable portable speaker that works either via Bluetooth or line-in – and it’s very, very loud for such a small thing.

The speaker ships in a container that looks like a jam jar (cute pun there), and contains a short USB to micro-USB cable for charging. The base of the speaker has a rubber coating to prevent rattling and allow some grip. The speaker has three controls: a play/pause button, volume up, and volume down.

I found that he play/pause buttons worked to stop the music in some apps, but not others. Most notably, the TSF Music Widget does not support it, but Play Music worked perfectly. The volume buttons are specific to the speaker alone, and raising or lowering the volume there doesn’t change the volume being delivered from your phone.

The battery life on the thing is advertised as about four hours using Bluetooth, and up to twelve using a line-in cable (not included). I haven’t had more than eight hours at a stretch to to play with it, but I did observe the death of the unit at about five hours of very nice playback.

It’s kind of impossible to relate how loud this speaker can actually get, but the little fist-sized thing filled my basement with tunes while I was down there cleaning for hours yesterday – and not that tinny tunage that you would expect from something this small; rather, it was actually decent quality music being streamed with distinct bass.

The range for the speaker picking up a Bluetooth signal is about 20 feet in decent circumstances. I managed to go nearly 40 at one point, and it still worked with direct line of site. However, I generally found that it was a pretty blockable signal, so you’re not going to be able to wander all around a house with your phone providing the music. Still, you might be able to hear the music all around the house with how loud this thing can get.

The rubber footprint allowed it to sit perfectly on the gas tank of my parked motorcycle, which leans at about 15-30 degrees depending. It never budged while playing some sweet Mike Doughty covers at full blast to keep me in the cleaning spirit.

This is one of the few devices I’ve reviewed that I’ve also shown off to people. This is really something I’ve been looking at for a while – the ability to take all this technology out and listen to some music without headsets blocking out the world. I’m not really into overpowering the entirety of existence with my music, but it’s nice to bring some tunes when you’re camping or just out there.

I tried to come up with a video that would demonstrate how loud this was, but unfortunately nothing seemed to work well enough to be captured by video. You can put tinfoil on it and it shakes, but a little too fast for YouTube. The bass goes up, so it doesn’t really hop. Eh … you just have to listen for yourself, if you can.

I showed this to some friends, and everyone universally wanted one – until they heard the price is in the $35 range (unless you shop at Macy’s, where they’re $80 for some reason). The general consensus seems to have been that these would make the perfect gift and be purchased by most people for $25, but when you get to $35, it’s just a bit steeper than you’d want to get for something you don’t use all the time.

For me, I will be using this all the time. It fits in about what I would pay, but of course your desire for this speaker may vary.

The HMDX Jam is available for $49.99 from the manufacturer, or for $29-34 on Amazon depending on what color you want.