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JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker for Nokia Review

JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker for Nokia Review

An amazing speaker with deep Nokia Lumia integration

If you’re a music lover with a Nokia Lumia handset—especially one that supports NFC and wireless charging—you need read no further: A multifunctional beauty with rich sound, the JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging speaker was designed especially for Nokia’s devices.

The PowerUp is what’s sometimes called a desktop, bookshelf, or table speaker. At $250, it ostensibly competes with such speakers as the Bose SoundDock ($200 to $600), Tivoli Model One ($180 to $200, I happen to own two of the Frost White models), and other premium products. (That is, it’s not truly portable like various Jambox speakers, $180 to $300, as there’s no battery.) But thanks to its deep integration with Nokia handsets in particular, and excellent feature-set, this one is a no-brainer for Lumia owners looking for such a speaker.

From a connectivity standpoint, it sports a standard mic-style line-in, so it will work with any digital device, including iPods, iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablet, and the like. It also supports Bluetooth, and you can easily pair any compatible digital device that way as well, playing music to the speaker wirelessly.

But in keeping with my claims in The Nokia Advantage: Accessories, as part of Nokia’s broader Windows Phone ecosystem efforts, the PowerUp takes an important Windows Phone feature, NFC, and makes it real. So if you have a Windows Phone handset (or other device) that supports NFC, you can also establish a connection between your device and the speaker using NFC. I wrote about this in Windows Phone 8 Tip: Connect Bluetooth Devices via NFC, and to be clear what’s really happening here is that NFC is used to simplify the process of connecting via Bluetooth.

Using a Nokia Lumia 920 or other similarly-NFC-enabled handset, the connection is made like so: You tap the top front of the speaker with the phone. A small chime rings, and you’re connected. You can start playing music immediately. It’s quick, seamless, and simple.

This type of improvement is nice, but let’s face it, you only have to connect two devices with Bluetooth once. The PowerUp takes it to the next level by also supporting Qi wireless charging. So now that you’ve made this connection, you can also place your Lumia 920 (or other wireless charging-capable handset or device) on the top of the speaker and charge it while you enjoy music. And of course this speaker can also be used only for wireless charging, hence the multi-function claim. It’s two devices in one.

With its Lumia integration, the PowerUp can also be used to control music playback courtesy of well-lit and obvious Play/Pause, Previous, Next, and Volume Up/Volume Down buttons on the top front of the speaker. These all work via Bluetooth, so they work whether the handset is on top of the device or not.

Sound reproduction is excellent, and while I’m no audiophile and will admit that this is subjective, I find the PowerUp to be superior to the similar speakers I’ve tested and owned. It seems like many speakers and headphones these days—the Beats line and the Tivoli speakers I own being key examples—confuse “deep bass” with “good sound.” And while I actually do like the sound quality of those devices, I think the PowerUp is cleaner and truer. Your mileage, as always, will vary. But this sounds good enough that I may be buying more of these soon, for use around the house.

Stacked together, the JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging speaker’s feature-set—NFC/Bluetooth connectivity, Qi wireless charging, on-device controls, and stellar sound quality—really puts this speaker over the top. If you use a Lumia 920 or other similarly-equipped smart phone, the PowerUp is a no-brainer. This is a beautiful, high-quality speaker, and it’s highly recommended.

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