*This device is a loaned review unit from Jabra Malaysia*
After reviewing a couple of Jabra Bluetooth headsets like Jabra HALO2 and Jabra STONE3, I was happy to review the Jabra SOLEMATE Bluetooth Speaker instead. The SOLEMATE is refreshed now, with added features like NFC connectivity on top of the usual Bluetooth, USB and 3.5mm audio connections.
Jabra SOLEMATE is a portable Bluetooth speaker from Jabra that looks like a sneaker with rubber sole. The wireless speaker not only looks cool and outdoor-sy, it actually packs a punch with Dolby sound technology and is perfect for your indoor or outdoor parties. It works well as a conference speaker too, when connected to your smartphone, tablet or laptop!
Here’s a brief overview of the technical specs of the Jabra SOLEMATE :-
- Speakers : Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to digitally optimise voice and music to suppress echoes
- Microphone : Omni-directional, noise filter with mute function
- Standby Time : up to 960 hours
- Talk Time : up to 10 hours
- Music streaming time : up to 8 hours
- Dimensions : 6.77″ (length) X 2.52″ (width) X 2.75″ (depth)
- Weight : 610 g
- Connectivity : USB, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC Pairing, Music Streaming (smartphone, laptop, tablet, MP3 player)
- Available in 6 colours : Black, White, Grey, Red, Blue and Yellow
Some cool killer features of the SOLEMATE includes:-
- Portable Size, Massive Sound – Light and portable with Dolby sound technology
- Speaker Amplified – powerful woofer, custom-designed bass, dual tweeter
- Travel Ready – Dust and splash resistant with rubber sole to handle bumps and knocks
- Connect Anywhere – Pair with Bluetooth, NFC, USB or 3.5 mm audio jack
- Exclusive Jabra Sound App – High Definition Dolby sound, YouTube streaming and Jabra Social Jukebox for friends to collaborate on playlist creation
Jabra SOLEMATE is available for sale at the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 699, with authorised Jabra retailers.
For more information, technical specs and feature list, check out the Jabra SOLEMATE Product Page at http://www.jabra.com/Products/Speakers/JABRA_SOLEMATE/JABRA_SOLEMATE_Black
Unboxing Jabra SOLEMATE
The SOLEMATE comes in a clear, plastic case that has the portable speaker on display. Just like with other Jabra products, the plastic box packaging showcases the black and yellow Jabra brand colours, with descriptions of the speakers’ functions around the labels.
Included in the box, you’ll find the speakers (I have the grey one with yellow accents), USB charging cable, durable sound bag (carry case for your speakers) and user manuals.
Looking around the hardware of the speakers, you’ll see the top (Right Centre) with 3 buttons for Volume up/down and Jabra “Home” button for play/pause. On the right side (Bottom left) you’ll find the rest of the controls – Power On/Off and Bluetooth toggle, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, micro USB charging port and light indicators for Bluetooth and power at the top.
The buttons on the top and right of the speakers are easy enough to understand, without refering to the user manuals. Light indicators for the battery life and Bluetooth blinks when active. The top 3 buttons was easy to press and manage your music streaming accordingly.
(Top Left) The yellow accented handle looks sporty and contrasts well with the grey coloured speakers I have. The speaker grill (Top Right) at the front goes all the way to the back, which gives you a good surround sound when playing music.
At the bottom of the speakers is where the name SOLEMATE showcases itself (Bottom right) where you’ll find the groove of the rubber bottom to prevent your speakers from slipping on any surface, as well as protect it from bumps and knocks. This is sneakers looking rubber sole is what gives the speakers its name and make it look oh-so rugged.
Here, is where the provided 3.5 mm stereo audio jack is hidden and stored. It fits perfectly at the sole, with holes to hide and store the audio jack. Other than Blluetooth or NFC connection, this audio jack can be used to connect one end to the speaker, and the other end to the headphone / audio jack on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or MP3 player. Nicely designed, in my opinion.
At 610 grams, the SOLEMATE is not exactly the lightest portable speaker. It can be rather hefty for this tiny size. On the other end of the arguement, it provided a solid feel to its construction, giving it a good premium feel.
Provided in the box, is a carrying case that’s essentially a drawstring pouch that houses the speakers for you to carry the speakers out to a party somewhere in the beach, park or friend’s house party!
Features and Performance
The Jabra SOLEMATE was tested streaming music from my smartphone and laptop during my (almost) one month review process. I enjoy background music playing while I work, either with a headphones on or blast out a speaker if I’m alone in the room.
Connection using Bluetooth to my smartphone was easy. Simply turn on Bluetooth on my phone, and push the toggle of Bluetooth on the speaker. Within seconds, my phone detected the Jabra SOLEMATE and a tap or two immediately pairs both devices together.
With that, I connected my phone to this speaker and was shortly after streaming music from my smartphone to this speaker.
Audio quality using Bluetooth streaming was great! This connection mode, being the primary way to pair your devices offer crisp sound quality. Even with the volume turned all the way up, there was no cracking or struggling from the speakers.
I didn’t get to try the NFC streaming though. I did try to do NFC pairing with my HTC One. Even with NFC turned on my smartphone, I can’t seem to connect as easily to any device with the HTC. I didn’t bother enough to troubleshoot. Bluetooth music streaming was good enough for this review.
I also got a chance to connect the stored 3.5 mm stereo audio jack tucked at the bottom of the SOLEMATE rubber sole. I plugged it in to my laptop and started streaming music from Spotify to the speakers.
Wired connection with the audio jack should be the best and clearest, given it’s a physical wired, cable connection, right?
Even with the volume turned up on my laptop as well as the Jabra SOLEMATE speakers, I was rather disappointed that the sound volume was not as loud as I’d like. I was in a semi-quiet room at home when I tested this. And I wasn’t too impressed with the sound quality and volume.
I don’t know if this is a Spotify issue, my laptop volume issue, or the speaker itself. But I remember thinking that this will not do if I’m having a house party and the SOLEMATE is my sole (no pun intended) entertainment source.
The speaker grill that goes all the way around the front and back of the speaker on the left side (right side houses the ports and Power and Bluetooth buttons) gives a good, all round sound. With Dolby sound technology, you won’t be disappointed with the way Jabra handles your audio streaming.
Battery life was good and I almost never had to worry about charging the speakers everytime I powered it on.
The battery light indicator helps tremendously. With the reported 960 hours of standby and up to 8 hours of music streaming, it’s certainly impressive for a portable speaker like this.
Unfortunately, I also didn’t get a chance to try a phone call with the speaker serving as a conference speaker.
Overall, I think the Jabra SOLEMATE did well. Good sound quality for music streaming via Bluetooth or NFC or wired audio jack connections. Volume can go a bit louder, in my personal opinion. Nevertheless, as a portable speaker, it does its job well.
The rubber sole at the bottom, along with the hidden audio jack cable is nicely designed and serves well for non-slip use on any surface. Great design and functional at the same time!
For the price tag of RM 699 though, it may be a bit on the pricey side. However, you’re assured of the great reliability and performance of a known brand portable speaker, versus other cheaper non-branded alternative in the market. If the price range is right for you, I’m sure a lot will be comparison shopping between this and the Jawbone Jambox.
Although I do have the Jawbone Jambox at home, I didn’t get to do a comparison review of both portable speakers. From a hardware point-of-view, the Jambox is definitely slimmer and lighter than the Jabra SOLEMATE. I guess you’ll have to try both at the retailers to see which one appeals to you – design wise, price wise and performance wise.
In conclusion, I enjoyed my time reviewing the Jabra SOLEMATE. The 3 amazing things I love most will have to be :-
- The included 3.5mm audio jack provided and tucked at the bottom rubber sole of the speakers
- The impressive battery life
- Beautiful overall design of the speakers that will surely turn heads.
As a reminder, check out more about this portable speaker at Jabra SOLEMATE product page at http://www.jabra.com/Products/Speakers/JABRA_SOLEMATE/JABRA_SOLEMATE_Black