I’ve had my Jawbone Jambox for well over a year, and I’ve loved it. It is small, easy to use, and it packs a punch!
More recently I had the opportunity to review the Braven 600. It is about the same size, but it has a built-in battery that will also charge your mobile device even as it fills the space with music. Then there is the most recent entry into this category – the Jabra Solemate Bluetooth Portable Speaker. It costs $200, is a bit bigger than the other two speakers and, quite frankly, looks like it wants to eat them for dinner. Yeah, it is a serious speaker!
But does the larger size mean bigger and better sound? Read on to find out and check out our video look.
Before we jump into what Jabra has to say about their little speaker with the big sound let’s take a video look…
Rock on? play on? game on! It’s the ultimate portable speaker! Introducing the new Jabra Solemate ? the go-anywhere, do anything portable speaker with massive sound that lets you share your music everywhere. All you have to do is provide the tunes and Solemate will do the rest.
With Solemate, you can party on the beach, dance in the kitchen, play in the park ? wherever you go, your Solemate will be ready to make any event amazing. Plus, you can take Solemate anywhere. Throw it in your bag, toss it to your friends and take it along for the ride. The durable design is dust and splash resistant, and the rugged, non-slip rubber sole can handle the bumps and knocks of the journey. And when it comes to sound quality, the Solemate starts where the competition stops. Custom-designed and tested in Jabra’s state-of-the-art facilities, it provides the ultimate portable speaker experience. With strong, deep bass from an inte¬grated subwoofer and rich, vibrant acoustics from dual tweeters, the Solemate sounds great at any level
The Solemate connects to your smartphone, MP3 player, tablet, laptop or anything that can play music using Bluetooth, a 3.5 mm audio cable or USB cable. Bluetooth 3.0 technology works up to 33 feet away, so you can DJ the party from across the room. But the Solemate doesn’t stop at music. Connect it to your phone and you’ve got your own personal speakerphone. Or take your video chats to the next level by using Solemate with Skype™, Google™ Talk, and other video chat services. Make all your devices sound amazing with Solemate.
Portable size with powerful sound — The go-anywhere Solemate features 3 front facing speakers (2 acoustic tweeters and 1 powerful subwoofer) and a proprietary passive bass radiator.
Well connected — Connect to your smartphone, MP3 player, tablet, laptop or anything that can play music using Bluetooth, a 3.5 mm audio cable or USB cable. Bluetooth 3.0 technology works up to 33 feet away, so you can DJ the party from across the room.
Speakerphone capability — lets you make and take calls from your computer, tablet or mobile phone.
Durable design — is sweat, dust and splash resistant, and the rugged, non-slip rubber sole can handle the bumps and knocks of any journey.
Voice guidance — tells you how to pair your device, your connection status and more.
Ultimate entertainment center — Don’t let your system’s speakers take the fun out of your music, movies and games. Use your Solemate to transform your computer or tablet into a portable cinema, stereo or arcade.
Up to 8 hours of wireless music time— depending on volume level and audio content and up to 40 hours of standby time.
Convenient storage for 3.5 mm audio cable — under the sole so you can always have it with you.
Works with everything — including Apple and Android products.
The first thing you will notice when you take the speaker out of its packaging is just how rugged it both looks and feels. It certainly stands out from the pack in this regard. The soft touch material on the top, when combined with the metal grille and the bottom area that looks and feels like a sneaker, screams – “I can handle it… Take me out with you! I want to PLAY!!!!!”
This rugged, “go anywhere” design is extended by the inclusion of a carry bag that will protect the speaker while allowing the audio to pass through it. Put the speaker in the bag, hang it nearby and the music will still play!! It is pretty neat, and I can see this coming in quite handy in Aruba this December!
Another neat feature is the carry tab on one side of the device. It’s permanently affixed and is great for those times when you want to hook a finger or a carabiner clip to it and carrying the speaker that way. It is another example of how this speaker is designed for use on the go.
And because the Jabra Solemate was designed to be used on the fly, it was created with an eye toward a minimalist control panel. On the top part three buttons – one to increase the volume, one to decrease the volume, and one to push for call functionality. Yes, the Jabra Solemate is designed to be used as a speakerphone as well!
On the “business end” of the speaker, you’ll find the rest of the controls. There is a microUSB connection for charging, a 3.5mm aux in connector and the on/off/pair button. That’s it. And that’s a good thing. After all, when you are on the go you really don’t want to be fumbling around with lots of buttons and controls.
The bottom of the Solemate is a rugged, vibration-dampening material that looks very much like the bottom of a sneaker. It is there that you will find the included 3.5mm cable. This is a great add-on and a superb design feature. There are times when you don’t want to use a wireless connection but to do so requires the use of a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. No cable, no music. It is as simple as that. The Solemate guarantees you will have the cable handy whenever and wherever you need it.
To be honest, at first I wasn’t all that taken with the rugged look and feel of the speaker. I tend to prefer something a bit more refined, but after using it for the last month or so, I can honestly say that I really appreciate how well-built this little speaker is. The rugged aspects of it aren’t there simply for appearance.
And while we are on the subject of the Solemate’s sole, lets talk about the other ways the speaker is built for a good deal of use and abuse. Sure, it has a rugged bottom. And sure, it comes with a play-through bag to keep it safe at the beach. But it is also dust and water-resistant. No, you can’t take it swimming but if you have an active outdoor lifestyle it is more than up to the task!
Jabra clearly set out to make a portable Bluetooth speaker that was much more than a simple 2012 boom box. As they explain,
The Solemate doesn’t stop at music. Connect to your phone and you’ve got your own personal speakerphone. Take your video chats to the next level by using Solemate with Skype™, Google™ Talk, and other video chat services. Or you can give your music, movie and games the ultimate sound by using Solemate to transform your computer or tablet into a portable cinema, stereo or arcade.
It does all that and much more. The Solemate has Bluetooth 3.0, supports Auto Pairing, offers remote call control, includes Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to digitally optimize your voice and music and suppress echoes, it has an omni-directional/noise filter microphone and can stream music for up to 10 hour.
So how does it sound? Of the three small, grab-and-go Bluetooth speakers I have now used, the Jabra Solemate stands out as the best. That is due, in large part, to the three front facing speakers and the specially designed base area at the rear. I never expected something to knock the Jawbone Jambox off the “mobile speaker pedestal” upon which I had placed it, but… this does! Yup, I still love the Jambox, but the Jabra Solemate is the speaker I’ll grab if I want to bring my music along for the ride.
What I Like: Rugged; Play-through protective bag; Easy to use; Pumps out big, good sounding audio; Splash and dust resistant; 3.5mm cable stows in the bottom; Three speakers that sit behind a strong metal grill
What Needs Improvement: Less refined-looking than some other speakers