Urban Velo

JBL Charge and Flip

JBL Flip and Charge

The JBL Charge and Flip are wireless, portable, rechargeable, Bluetooth compatible self-contained speaker systems. While technically neither is an “urban cycling” accessory in the strictest sense, as they aren’t specifically designed to be used while riding, they are certainly both cool and useful items for those who are willing to shell out the money for entertainment on the go. Think rooftop hang out sessions, rocking out by the river, wrenching in the basement, bike polo under the bridge, etc.

Of the two, the Charge is the clear choice unless money is tight. For a device that’s not too much bigger than a can of beer, this thing pumps out some serious volume. And, I kid you not, it delivers a respectable amount of bass. Sure, you’re not going to compete with the lowriders in the park, but the Charge actually creates enough sound pressure to make your music sound good, not tinny. And if you crank it up indoors, you’ll probably be impressed.

The Charge features a 6000mAh Li-ion battery that charges via USB or the provided wall charger. It has a claimed runtime of more than 12 hours, and you can even take advantage of this gratuitous power source and use the Charge to recharge other mobile devices. It’s got a simple battery life indicator, and

Construction-wise, the Charge is clean and solid, and it seems like it’s built to withstand abuse. Intentionally or not, the Charge just so happens to fit in a bicycle water bottle cage. Electronically, it’s been flawless. I was able to sync it to my iPhone for the first time in less than 30 seconds, and since then I just turn the speaker on and hit play on my phone. No muss, no fuss.

The Charge does retail for a cool $150, which might carry a little sticker shock for some people, but consider that premium headphones are often considerably more expensive. And while there are competitively priced speaker systems on the market, they’re simply not JBL—a company that’s been around since 1946.

The Flip is essentially the Charge’s little brother. It’s still plenty loud—impressively loud—but it’s just not quite as powerful as the Charge. The $99 unit’s battery boasts a 5 hour run time, which is nothing to sneeze at, but lacks the ability to recharge other devices. The Flip also uses a dedicated charger (included) not a universal USB charging system.

The Flip does have one unique trick up its sleeve, however. It features a built in microphone and a call answering button. It’s not a feature that I personally found necessary, but I’m certain there are some who would really appreciate such functionality.

Both models are available in several color options and come with a neoprene carrying case. Check out www.jbl.com

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