Image: Hugh Threlfall
November 17 2012
I have, if not a nightmare, then a slight concern that one day soon, every gadget ever needed will have been invented. It’s sort of happened with laptops already. The MacBook Pro is so good with the Retina screen that it exceeds anything the human eye can detect. Now we may be in the same dilemma with phones, with the iPhone 5 having joined the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 to give as close to perfection as anyone can possibly imagine – or require.
New gadget categories do come, of course, but they have a habit of swiftly surpassing themselves and then attaining terminal velocity, so to speak. So I thought the position was with the burgeoning new product category of travel gadget: the portable, wireless stereo speaker, which kicked off with the superb Jawbone Jambox a couple of years ago, and, when I featured the best of the breed in a Technopolis TV video in the summer, seemed to have gone as far as it could go. Not so; gadget designers are more resourceful than that. And this new model from a Utah company, Braven, takes a wonderful travel accessory and makes it even better. The Jambox and the Braven are currently fighting it out for a place in my travel bag.
While the Jambox’s spookily good (even better in its latest firmware upgrade) 3D sound quality has nonetheless been thought a bit too “processed” by some hi-fi critics, the slightly bigger Braven, in its smart aluminium case, has a more natural sound – a big, impressive, grown-up audio heft that seems impossible coming from such a small box.
These things are subjective, but the Braven has brought considerable improvements to the table. First, the Braven also works as a charger, sharing its prodigious battery power with your tired phone, so you have one less gadget to carry. The Braven also pairs more easily and uses a better form of Bluetooth, called apt-X, for those with real bat ears. You can (although I doubt you will) daisy-chain two or more Bravens by wiring them together for added volume. And finally, the Braven works easily as a speakerphone for on-the-road use. The Jambox also does, but it’s less simple.