Harman JBL Charge – Yellow Flag Caution – KemptonTestLab FCC filings review

Harman "JBL Charge" Yellow Flag Caution KemptonTestLab - pix 00 - JBL Charge promo pix

update: See bottom for further updates.

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1) I don’t have a Harman JBL Charge unit of  to test my concern yet, so this KemptonTestLab – Yellow Flag Caution note is based on my review of FCC filings and understanding from my previous “Review of six Harman/JBL Flips“.

2) Yellow Flag Caution: I did a FCC ID search using Grantee Code: API Product Code: JBLCHARGE to downloaded all 12 of the FCC filings for the JBL Charge (full list) to take a quick look of what kind of Bluetooth antenna it is using. Note: I encourage you to do the FCC ID search yourself and share your findings in the comment.

First off, the electromagnetic field characteristic of the JBL Charge may be very different from the JBL Flip even they look similar enough on the outside (see my extensive in-depth “Review six Harman/JBL Flips, two with new Bluetooth antenna design – KemptonTestLab“).

The fact that the Charge seems to be using the same faulty 1st generation JBL Flip antenna concerns me greatly. I have enough concerns (just to be safe) that I am issuing a Yellow Flag Caution to tell people be careful and make sure they check their units and see if they have any Bluetooth problems. If you ask me, I would much rather see the more robust 2nd generation Flip antenna being implement and used inside the Charge instead!

Harman JBL might be able to get away with using the faulty 1st generation JBL Flip antenna inside the Charge but I won’t know until I put the Charge under the very rigorous testing performed in KemptonTestLab!

Remember: KemptonTestLab: Only best products pass our tough tests!

Harman JBL Flip 1st gen antenna vs 2nd gen antenna

JBL Flip Antenna - Original and post-Class II Change

The six Harman JBL Flips in KemptonTestLab

Review six Harman/JBL Flips, two with brand new Bluetooth antenna design

Harman JBL Charge antenna – Yellow Flag Caution

Harman "JBL Charge" Yellow Flag Caution KemptonTestLab - pix 03 - Antenna looking like 1st gen Flip antenna

3) As usual, I expect the JBL Charge to make great sound like the JBL Flip if you hardwire them. And the spec for the Harman JBL Charge seems quite awesome on the surface quoting the JBL promo document, “10-watt portable stereo speaker with a high-capacity 6,000mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery, a built-in bass port and wireless Bluetooth® connection

4) Let me point out that if the Charge is playing music directly from the device being charged (e.g. a phone), then the Bluetooth problem is not much of a concern because the transmitting devices (the phone) and the receiver (the Charge speaker) are right next to each other!

March 15th update: I read that YouTube user “6FeetDeep4U”‘s JBL Charge’s Bluetooth seems to be performing very well. I would love to see a test video made (and have suggested that). If 6FeetDeep4U does make a test video and embeddable, I would share it here and possibly revise my comments/”watch” temporarily until I’ve got a chance to find and test a JBL Charge myself in my own KemptonTestLab to benchmark against the other JBL Flips I’ve tested!

[HT this Japanese webpage for the FCC ID info]

12 Responses to Harman JBL Charge – Yellow Flag Caution – KemptonTestLab FCC filings review

  1. I have followed your reports and 6FeetDeep4U’s with interest. I thought I’d let you know I just picked up a JBL Charge for myself. They have started showing up at Best Buy, although at least at mine, they aren’t on display yet – they are in a locked case only. You’ll be pleased to hear I’ve tested the Bluetooth connection, and have no problems like what your Flip videos show. I can do as you did with your unit #6 – walking all around the house, turning around, closing doors, even going to the basement – with only the slightest occasional momentary dropouts as I get past 20-30 feet with intervening walls. YMMV, of course. But I couldn’t be more pleased. I didn’t have the opportunity to check sound directly against a Flip, but I have heard enough of the Flip to say the Charge is absolutely in the same ballpark. Probably a bit deeper.

    • kempton says:

      Marc, thanks for your feedback. Good to hear your positive experiences with the JBL Charge’s BlueTooth. Many things can cause interferences, and it seems like comparing to the JBL Flip, the bigger Charger, minus speakerphone connection, seem to make a difference in the BT performance. Cool.

  2. Rob Ross says:

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve been in the market for quite some time for a new portable speaker and arrived at the decision to hold out for the JBL Charge to launch. I ordered mine from JBL’s website and am very pleased with the audio quality though I am very concerned about your findings with the bluetooth range. I left mine playing for my friends in my car and walked into a 7-Eleven with my phone in my back pocket and the Charge lost connection before I even made it inside (~15 feet)

    I’m also experiencing connection problems with my Macbook Pro (late 2008 unibody). I usually have to delete the device from my bluetooth list and re-pair them to get a connection working, and even then sound effects like emptying the trash and volume up/down don’t play and often cause an error saying that audio has failed and I then need to repair the device. This occurs with the speaker sitting right next to the laptop. Any ideas on what could be causing this? Could it be new bluetooth tech that my laptop is too dated to handle properly? My HTC Amaze seems to always pair just fine. Sadly the Charge is not very well known/marketed so I don’t see many places to search for people having similar issues.

    Thanks!

    -Rob

    • kempton says:

      Hi Rob, First of all, thanks for sharing your experiences with the JBL Charge here. It is great to add some data points to the discussion.

      I have an MacBook pro mid-2009 unibody and I have never had much luck nor good experience with it using Bluetooth with my JBL Flip (not the JBL Charge)! I don’t know what cause the problems: software, etc? The connection process was just so troublesome that I now just hard wire the Flip to the MacBook Pro when I need to.

  3. Rob Ross says:

    Hey Kempton,
    I definitely spoke too soon regarding the JBL Charge’s range, I am having absolutely HORRIBLE range. I took my Charge to the park for a BBQ on memorial day and experience drop outs when my phone was less than 10 feet away from the speaker. I’ve taken it to the beach last weekend and this weekend and both times I could not move the phone more than 6 feet away from the speaker without encountering dropouts. Suffice to say I am very angry that JBL would repackage a discontinued antenna design into a new speaker and charge $50 more than the previous model! I will be calling JBL tomorrow to seek either replacement or full refund. Do you have any suggestions as far as who I should speak with? I have had great difficulty in the past reaching an actual human at JBL. Thanks so much for your help and great article!

    • kempton says:

      Hi Rob,

      Oh no! I can’t believe the range is this limited/HORRIBLE (10 feet) in a park (i.e. open space, with no walls for interference) !

      My experience in contacting Harman/JBL support team was reasonable and was able to escalate the problem and got help to sort things out to a “good enough” extend. At least they resolved the crippling BT problems with the generation 2 JBL Flip antenna.

      Kempton

    • I think you need to consider the possibility you got an isolated defective unit or that perhaps the issue is your phone. Mine continues to perform spectacularly, and none of the dozens of users reviews on Amazon et al mention any issues.

    • kempton says:

      @Marc Sabatella
      I’ve four bad 1st gen Flips.
      And the two 2nd gen Flips work much better with the exact same devices (Android phones, and iPad).

    • I was not talking your experience with the Flip. i was replying Rob, who seems to be the only person out of perhaps over a hundred reviews to have a problem with the Charge. If oer a hundred people find the Charge works perfeclty, and one person testing one unit with one phone sees a problem, thata hardly proof there is any sort of issue with the Charge. And indeed, all evidence is to the contrary.

    • kempton says:

      @Marc Sabatella
      My apologies. I failed to read your comment was part of a comment tread as I was reading it individually in a comment manager.
      Looking at Rob’s original problem, I wonder if Rob has a chance to test with a different device? It could be his device or the Charge.

  4. Lyon ong says:

    HI KEMPTON nice to know you.

    BIG question here!!
    Can i ever connect 2 Bluetooth speaker (jbl charge / flip) together to play simultaneously together using either laptop or android phone?

    • kempton says:

      Hi Lyon,

      Nope, as far as I see, you can’t connect two Flips to a device (Android phone or laptop). I think I’ve read a different brand can do what you want as that config will give you better stereo effect.

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