In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in portable speaker products, aided by the growth of the mobile smartphone market and the increasingly mobile lifestyle of today’s consumers. Jabra, experts in portable audio solutions, recently introduced its new line of portable speakers – an enhanced second generation Solemate, new Solemate Max and Solemate Mini. Courtesy of Jabra, we’ve had a strikingly yellow Jabra Solemate for review.
Design and build
Who would have imagined, a speaker inspired by sneakers? Weirdly cool. The second generation Solemate is simply a better Solemate than the original. Available in vibrant red, blue, yellow and greyscale, the design is striking yet built with simplistic controls for ease-of-use. The exterior is made of highly-durable polycarbonate, layered pleasingly with a soft-touch resin. Down at the sole, the rubbery texture keeps the Solemate sturdy on any surface.
It weighs about 1kg and measures 172 x 64 x 70cm, so it can easily go into your bag, handbag or knapsack for parties at the beach, camping trips or just a gathering with friends.
Up top are just three buttons – up/down volume buttons and a Menu button. Down the side is the on-off and Bluetooth slide control with Bluetooth and battery indicators above. Further down is the 3.5mm audio input jack and a micro-USB port for charging.
On the opposite side is a strap for you to bring your Solemate around.
Flip the Solemate on its head and you’ll see a sneakily hidden audio cable tucked neatly on its sole. The audio cable can be removed and plugged in the audio jack to tether with devices.
Overall, a very cool-looking piece of kit.
Aside from its unique design, the Solemate packs Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth. This makes pairing with your favorite devices effortless.
As with other Jabra devices, the Jabra Sound App for iOS and Android delivers added sound enhancements thanks to its built-in Dolby Digital Plus support. The app also enables you to stream YouTube content as well as any existing stored content from your smart device.
Performance and usage
If there’s one thing that Jabra excels in aside from fantastic industrial design and build quality is ease-of-use. Setting up is a no-brainer. Power it on by flipping the switch, hold it at Bluetooth for a couple of seconds and the Bluetooth indicator will blink. A jolly make voice will greet you.
Turn on Bluetooth on your smart device, pair, done. I tested it on my Lenovo K900, Lenovo YogaTablet 8, Nokia Lumia 1520 and an iPad 2. If you have an NFC-enabled device like the Lumia 1520, you can simply tap on the Solemate and it will pair instantly.
Audio quality is good in general with strong mids and thumpy bass. It could be better with the highs, I reckon. Turn it up and it will certainly fill a medium sized room without complaint. However, with volumes close to max, audio does tend to break.
Battery life isn’t too shabby either. A single charge will give you around 5 hours of continuous music playback.
- Excellent, quirky, unique design
- Simple to use
- NFC is a plus
- Good audio quality
- Plays nice with a wide range of devices
- Audio breaks at very high volumes
- Could be better in higher frequencies
- Slightly pricey
Jabra continues to deliver some outstanding products, and the Jabra Solemate isn’t an exception. It’s a highly portable device which not only looks good but performs well. Some may choke on the price although I’d say you get what you pay for.
A quality, well-designed and well-built portable speaker system that will keep you and your party of friends entertained for hours at a time.
Pricing and availability
The Jabra Solemate is priced at RM579 (SRP) and is available at all major retailers and authorized Jabra dealers nationwide.