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Review: Harman Kardon Traveler, Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster Bluetooth speakers

We review the two of the most unique and latest portable Bluetooth speakers in the market right now.

tech Updated: Oct 31, 2017 09:52 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Harmon Kardon Traveler,Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster,JBL
Hit the road with these two cool Bluetooth speakers.(Zoook)

Portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime and a dozen in the market. The good thing is you can get a good quality and powerful speaker for less than Rs 10,000 nowadays. And then, they’re available in all kinds of shapes and sizes, making them perfect smartphone accessories.

For the last couple of years, I have tried out a number of Bluetooth speakers, including a high-end Logitech UE Boom, JBL Flip and even a tiny Altec Lansing Mini H20. For me, the criteria for a good portable speaker has always been good battery life and clarity in sound even at the maximum volume.

This is why the first thing I did when Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster and Harman Kardon Traveler came for review was cranking up the volume to check the clarity.

Before we hold forth, let’s be clear about one thing. This is not a comparison between Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster and Harmon Kardon Traveler. The two speakers are aimed at different set of consumers, hence come with different price tags.

The philosophy behind the Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster seems to be delivering a powerful speaker at an affordable price whereas the Harmon Kardon Traveler is more of a sophisticated and multi-purpose device. The two speakers are priced at Rs 2,400 and Rs 9,479 respectively.

Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster

At first glance, the Zoook ZB Jazz Blaster seems like a device rugged to a point that it starts reminding you of old-age stereo systems. Weighing 1.2 kg, the Jazz Blaster is nowhere the usual light-weight speaker that you could easily fit in your bag or pocket.

Featuring rubber flaps on the sides, it looks and feels quite bulky. Perhaps, the manufacturer intentionally wanted it to look like that. In fact, it has an IPX5 certification for water and dust resistance.

That said, let not the looks deceive you. The Jazz Blaster is quite a powerful portable speaker that is very loud (30W output). Besides being loud, it delivers fairly decent and balanced audio experience.

However, it lacks a bit of depth. Bass-heavy songs such as Candy (from 50 Cent) sound well; so do vocal ones from Kailash Kher. It’s just that after getting accustomed to more high-end audio devices, Jazz Blaster falls short on the experience.

But looking at the price point and the high volume output it can deliver, the Zoook portable Bluetooth speaker seems like a decent deal. I think the Blaster is more suitable to those who have frequent large gatherings at home.

Harman Kardon Traveler

While I kept my expectations minimum from the ZB Jazz Blaster, I had big hopes from the Traveler which comes from the house of Harman Kardon, a very well known brand in the audio segment. Fortunately, the Harman Kardon Traveler doesn’t disappoint you. It’s quite compact in size and does look a bit similar to Xiaomi’s Mi Bluetooth speaker.

The Harman KardonTraveler comes with unibody aluminum design. The black variant looks pretty premium and subtle. Another nifty addition in the speaker is the 2,500mAh Power Bank, which essentially means you can use the speaker to charge another device. So, it’s kind of a new-age 2-in-1 (speaker-power bank). In our opinion, this alone is a good enough reason to invest in this speaker.

The Traveler feels premium and subtle. (Harman Kardon)

As far as the experience goes, the Traveler isn’t disappointing at all. It doesn’t explode your eardrums like the ZB Jazz Blaster but ensures there’s a clarity and depth in the audio. The distortion at the maximum volume is bare minimum. While the vocals sound crisp, the bass seems quite balanced.

However, we would have liked a bit more consistency across all genres of songs. While the experience was mostly good, a few songs such as Bagbak (David Cabrera) and Tempted (Jazz Cartier) leave so much to be desired. In terms of battery life, the Traveler delivers roughly 7-8 hours of back up after single charge.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 09:49 IST