JBL Clip 2 review

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Tiny Bluetooth speaker improves with full waterproofing, boosted battery life.

THE GOOD: The JBL Clip 2 Bluetooth speaker is a hockey-puck-size speaker with a built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery that offers decent sound for its size, improved battery life (eight hours), and is fully waterproof. It also has an integrated line-in cable that stows away in the bottom of the device, as well as speakerphone capabilities.

THE BAD: It doesn’t handle big bass well and distorts at higher volumes; should cost a little less.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If it’s a tiny wireless speaker you’re after, the JBL Clip 2 is an appealing choice with some small but significant improvements over its predecessors.

JBL’s Clip speakers have been among our favorite micro Bluetooth speakers, and the new Clip 2, which comes in five color options and costs $60 (£50, AU$80), is also a winner.

The Clip 2 has couple of notable changes from its predecessor. For starters, it’s fully waterproof. It also comes equipped with a real metal carabiner instead the plastic “clip” mechanism found on the Clip and Clip+. And finally, battery life has been improved to eight hours from five.

Like those earlier models, this one has a nifty integrated audio cable for devices that don’t support Bluetooth, and there’s a built-in speakerphone that works reasonably well.

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As you can see from our video, the speaker initially floats when you put in water. But eventually it will sink. I gently put it in a pool and it played for about 10 seconds and then cut out as it dipped a little below the surface. It’s rated to be submerged in four feet of water for 30 minutes. But drop it in a deep lake or ocean and you’ll want to rescue it pretty quickly or you won’t see it again.

On the sound front, I didn’t notice a significant improvement, but the speaker still sounds relatively impressive for its tiny size. There’s some bass, just not a lot of it, and the speaker will distort at higher volumes with certain bass-heavy tracks, such as the American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life” (I tested this speaker with some of the same music as the Clip+). It’s strongest in the midrange, and it does best with acoustic music and speech.

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It makes for a good lightweight companion for a tablet or smartphone for watching movies, television shows and sporting events. And using JBL’s Connect app, you can now link two Clips 2s to augment the sound. But you’re just going to get more voluminous sound, not better sound nor more bass. You also can’t do stereo pairing.

The UE Roll 2, which lists for $100, is shaped similarly but is about twice the Clip 2’s size and definitely sounds better, with bigger sound

The UE doesn’t have speakerphone capabilities but it’s arguably the better choice if you want a waterproof Bluetooth speaker (it comes with a flotation accessory). However, if it’s a tiny wireless speaker you’re after, the Clip 2 is certainly appealing and clearly an improvement over its predecessors, which can now be had for less than $40 online. It’d be nice to see this speaker closer to that price, but that’s really my only gripe.

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JBL Clip 2 Features
Wireless Bluetooth streaming (Bluetooth 4.2)
6.6 ounces (187g)
Rechargeable battery: built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery supports up to eight hours of playtime.
Speakerphone capabilities: Take calls from your speaker with a touch of a button.
Built-in carabiner
IPX7 waterproof (fully submersible for a short period)
Wirelessly connect two Clip 2 speakers together for amplified sound.
Integrated 3.5mm Audio Cable: if your music player does not have Bluetooth, plug the audio cable into it.

(cnet.com, http://goo.gl/qMlAEb)

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