JBL's Boombox and Charge bluetooth speakers just got a huge upgrade

JBL's best new portable speakers now stream via Wi-Fi – and the Boombox 3 Wi-Fi is the first portable JBL with Dolby Atmos

JBL Boombox 3 Wi-Fi
(Image credit: JBL)

Boom! That's the sound of our best portable speakers guide getting a big upheaval. JBL has just announced two new speakers with a feature normally reserved for only the priciest of the best wireless speakers: streaming over Wi-Fi. Both the JBL Boombox 3 Wi-Fi and the JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi speakers will enable you to stream audio in the kind of quality that even the best Bluetooth speakers can only dream of.

The biggest benefit of Wi-Fi is that it has much more bandwidth, so your audio doesn't need to be so compressed: there's support for up to 24-bit/96KHz playback. But it also offers better range, which is useful for moving your speaker around indoors and out. And because the Wi-Fi version is Wi-Fi 6 these speakers should last you for years.

JBL Boombox 3 Wi-Fi and JBL Charge 5 Wi-Fi: key features

Both speakers have self-tuning to optimise the sound for wherever you happen to be, and they can stream via AirPlay 2, Alexa MRM and Chromecast built-in over their Wi-Fi connections. Charge-wise you're looking at about 20 hours of playback from the Charge 5 Wi-Fi and 20 from the Boombox 3 Wi-Fi. The Charge 5 also doubles as a portable power bank for your other devices.

The Boombox 3 Wi-Fi has a trick up its sleeve too. It's JBL's first portable speaker with Dolby Atmos to make your audio even more immersive.

Both speakers come in any colour you like as long as it's black, both have IP67 water and dust ratings and both go on sale in mid-may. The RRP will be £229.99 for the Boombox 3 Wi-Fi and £549.99 for the Charge 5 Wi-Fi.

I like JBL speakers, and I think the addition of Wi-Fi for some of its more premium models is a great addition: it's not something that you'll care too much about if you'e looking for a party speaker, but if you want a portable that's great indoors as well as out then it's definitely worth having, and it makes JBL's speakers an interesting and affordable rival to the likes of Sonos.  

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).