Jabra is literally kicking down the door to the portable speaker market. The Jabra Solemate Portable Bluetooth Speaker delivers big sound in a compact, fashionable sneakerlike design. Product name puns aside, can this $199 speaker stomp the competition?
A tan braided 3.5mm audio cable nestled in the bottom of the sole mimics a shoestring. The cable can be removed from the tread and plugged into the audio jack on the rubber white band on the speaker's right side. The band also contains a microUSB port, power switch and status indicators for battery and Bluetooth.
Folks paranoid about ruining their investment can place their Solemate in the included travel bag. The black textured bag is splash-proof. Best of all, the lightweight material doesn't muffle the speaker.
Setup and Ease of Use
After making our Samsung Galaxy Note II discoverable, we held the Solemate's On/Off switch in the top position for three seconds. The speaker informed us in a smoldering baritone that it was ready to pair.
The voice was accompanied by a track that sounded like it had been culled from an X-rated flick. It was slightly disconcerting, especially when the speaker announced that it was "now connected" in a rather knowing voice. From start to finish, the process took approximately six seconds.
The volume buttons adjusted volume as expected. Pressing both buttons for one second muted/unmuted the audio during phone calls. The Answer/End button wears a lot of hats. In addition to answering and ending calls (hold the button for two seconds), pressing the button announces the battery status while double tapping the button redials the last number called.
At mid-volume, we were impressed with the depth of the bass on George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebaum." However, Gwen Stefani's "Luxurious" and OutKast's "Prototype" sounded very muddy.
The problem only increased as we went to maximum volume. We quickly discovered that the subwoofer couldn't handle deep bass and distorted the rest of the track in its attempts to compensate. Once the bassline entered the equation in "Prototype," Andre 3000's whimsical falsetto was no longer clear and vibrant, and the entire track became distorted. Stefani's soft, mewling vocal became harsh and grating and the synthesized parts of the track took on a dog-whistle quality.
Tracks that don't have a deep bass line, such as Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," sounded great no matter the volume level.
We wished Jabra had given the Solemate the ability to announce callers just in case the phone wasn't at arm's length or worse, M.I.A. We also would have appreciated having voice command, similar to what we used on the Monster ClarityHD Micro speaker. This seems like a glaring omission considering the voice guidance system used for the initial speaker setup.
Test calls to mobile phones, landlines and Skype were loud and clear as a bell on both ends. One of our callers noted that he could tell that he was on speakerphone.
Battery Life and Bluetooth
Jabra claims the Solemate can get up to eight hours of battery life at maximum volume. During our testing, we used the speaker consistently for three hours and had 75 percent remaining battery life. That's roughly equal to the Jambox, and about two hours longer than the Monster ClarityHD Micro.
As with most Bluetooth devices, the Solemate has a range of 33 feet. We got 19 feet away in our offices when the audio began to sputter. Another two feet and the sound completely cut out. The speaker took a few seconds to reconnect when we walked back into range.
|Accessories Type||Bluetooth Device|
|Battery Type/Life||8 hours|
|Size||6.8 x 2.8 x 2.5-inches|