JLab Audio B-FLEX X-Bass USB Laptop Speaker Review

A few weeks back, we first featured JLab Audio’s GO MP3 Player and it was a good product overall. It did what it was supposed to at an alright cost. This time around, JLab Audio once again returns with a product that’s not as far off as their waterproof player but is still as valuable based on its intended operation. For those that bring laptops and netbooks around all the time, it is common knowledge that speakers of these gadgets are not of the best kind, as they’re clearly meant for personal use and manufacturers assume that headphones would be more practical. But for those situations that laptop audio is a necessity and the built-in speakers suck, then JLab Audio has something in their sleeve to offer. Today’s review will focus on JLab Audio’s B-FLEX X-Bass USB Laptop Speakers.

Unboxing and Presentation

Unlike the previous JLab Audio product, the B-FLEX actually comes in its actual retail packaging. Like most speaker sets though, the B-FLEX also comes in a plastic clam type of packaging that has the typical cardboard backing that contains the product shots and details. At the front is the company logo and product name, with the speaker unit itself embossing the plastic packaging for easier inspection of contents without having to open the package. The rear of the package is basically the same as the front with the product window showing the rear side of the speaker. More details are also seen, including the most important positives of the product and basic functions. Nothing special about the package but it definitely helps any possible buyer of the B-FLEX.

Things also don’t get complicated when opening the said package. It doesn’t have any twist ties or any adhesive used in sealing in the product. You can easily slide out the speakers and plug it in to any USB port and you’re ready to go. There are no other accessories included in the package, aside from a paper manual that anyone can basically get around not reading as the product is very simple to use.

Features

  • Plug and play for PC* and Mac. Uses only USB power, no wires or batteries!
  • Easy to use. Incredibly compact and portable. Great for travel!
  • Produces crystal clear sound with dual 1-watt digital amps and 2 high output, full range micro drivers and passive subwoofer.
  • Patented flexible design allows you to totally customize your listening experience by flexing the speaker into virtually any position.
  • Second Edition of the B-Flex gadget that was featured in the NY Times, on ABC News, in WIRED magazine, and on virtually every gadget site in the world.

Impressions and Review

We’ll be skipping the contents part of the review as the B-FLEX was designed with simplicity, both in form and use, in mind and as such, the package you’ll be getting will only contain the speaker unit itself. For the form factor, the speaker is very solid with its overall black finish. As mentioned, just plug it and play it, it doesn’t have any dangling wires, nor does it need any batteries to work. This enables the product to have a seamless finish without any room for detaching or attaching additional pieces, adding to the solid feel of the accessory.

For the look itself, it will blend easily with most laptops and netbooks with its black color scheme. In front is the actual speaker grill with the company logo at the center. The said logo gives a blue light when the speaker is attached to the computer’s USB port. The back part also reflects the minimalist design with the B-FLEX logo in silver at the center of the shiny black finish. The oval shape of the speaker gives it a streamlined aesthetic to couple the mono-directional speaker setup.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the sound quality. As said above, the speaker seems to have a mono-directional speaker setup, but that’s not totally the case. The sound it produces is quite excellent for a USB-powered device as the sound still resonates despite listening from the back of the unit. Now depending on the equalizer you’re using, the B-FLEX has great reaction to midrange to the higher frequencies. Does this mean that the bass components won’t stand up? Actually, no. This is because this variant of the B-FLEX is the X-Bass one. This means that aside from the front speaker unit, the top portion houses the passive woofer that gives the sound it produces a deeper bass. You might expect that the top has a literal speaker attached. Again, no. As mentioned, this woofer is passive, meaning that it won’t be intrusive to the form factor, neither will it be a liability. This extra component is actually designed to be exposed so you won’t need to worry about warped speaker components that are a common occurrence to these things.

We also said that the B-FLEX doesn’t have any dangling wires to work. This is because the USB "cable" is actually enclosed in a plastic segmented cable that not only secures the connection to the speaker unit, but also holds up the unit in an upright position relative to the USB port. This then ensures that the speakers are nearer to ear-level for better reception of the sound produced.

The only downside to this setup is that given that the audio actually comes from the USB device and instead of the actual sound output ports, there might be instances that any hardware enhancements that may be installed due to built-in drivers and the like may not make any differences to the sound coming out of the B-FLEX.

Final Thoughts

All in all, we have to say that JLab Audio has once again delivered a great product with their B-FLEX X-Bass USB speakers. The great thing about this is that it doesn’t need any setups to work, just plug it and play it. It also helps that it’s wireless so carrying it won’t be a hassle. Then of course, the sound it produces is better than the default laptop ones and while it’s not made to replace high power desktop speakers, it does the job it was intended to. So is it worth the cost? JLab Audio currently sells this one at a sale price of $39.95 so for those who are eyeing for better mobile audio experience, head on to JLab Audio’s website at jlabaudio.com.

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