Review: JBL Clip 3
The JBL Clip 3 fills the space with sound, takes calls, clips onto almost anything, and sinks to the bottom of a pool without damage. What more can you ask for in a wet hot summer companion?
As the summer heats up, even in quarantine, people will want to listen to music outside—near the barbecue and at the pool, and they would do well to consider a JBL Clip 3 as their companion.
What we like
The only reason one buys a speaker is to listen to music. And while the Clip 3 isn’t a stereo speaker that separates the channels, it puts out enough volume to engulf a good-sized private party. Power on works quickly, which wasn’t the case with the earlier models. Bluetooth set up ran the standard course with no hesitation, connecting easily to my iPad Pro and reconnecting automatically with each power cycle.
Portability often comes in a close second as a reason to buy a speaker like the JBL Clip 3. At 5.4 x 3.8 x 1.8 and less than half a pound the speaker defines portable. And the integrated carabiner
To save on on the up to ten-hour battery life serviced through the 1000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery, the Clip 3 automatically powers down when it stops receiving a signal. The Clip 3 now receives power from a USB-C port, bringing it up-to-date with other devices.
For those without a Bluetooth solution, the JBL Clip 3 also sports a standard 3.5 mm audio cable Input. Unlike earlier models it does not include a built-in audio cable, which I think is fine. Auxiliary audio has become a little-used feature in the Bluetooth era. The built-in cable only created an additional fault surface in the design.
An IPX 7 waterproof rating makes this the ideal speaker for those looking to bring sound to a damp area, be it rain or a pool. A snug rubber flap keeps the water out of the vulnerable the power and audio ports. Always secure the flap before visiting a water slide.
And if you need to take a call in the shower, the noise and echo-canceling speakerphone feature picks up your voice over the dancing waters.
Since the Clip 3 works as much as a fashion accessory as it does a gadget, JBL offers the speaker in a wide variety of colors.
What could be improved
The carabiner gives the Clip series its name. While the clip delivers superior performance to its predecessors, I’m not sure they got it right just yet. Compared to even low-end carabiners, the all-aluminum clip on the JBL speaker seems a bit flimsy at the gate’s hinge. When locked in place, though, the gate creates a strong rigid unit to hold the Clip 3 in place. The construction only raises questions when opening and closing the gate. Perhaps a wider gauge of aluminum and a more robust pin would increase overall ruggedness in the next version.
Other than that, the solid build takes the Clip series well beyond earlier models with user feedback clearly recognized and incorporated into the design, from better buttons to upgraded waterproof rating.
JBL Clip 3: The Bottom Line
I use JBL Clip 3 almost every day. I use it in the shower to listen to podcasts and music. Those looking for a portable, rugged, waterproof speaker that attaches to everything from a belt loop to a backpack strap should consider the Clip 3. It fills the space with sound, takes calls, clips onto almost anything, and sinks to the bottom of a pool without damage. What more can you ask for in a wet hot summer companion?
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