Jabra Solemate Max review
The Jabra Solemate Max is a portable wireless and wired Bluetooth-capable NFC enhanced boombox and speakerphone. It’ll also act as a USB audio device for Windows (possibly Mac), charge your phone for you, and is heavy enough to keep a weiner dog down in high winds.
It was first demoed at the International Consumer Electronics Showcase (according to an email from the PR firm), and I was lucky enough to get one to play with.
The Solemate Max sits at the edge of portable, and merely luggable, but since they were nice enough to send me one to look at, I’m inclined to put it in the portable category. I’d say it was a brick, but bricks are half a pound lighter.
Solemate Max features and specs
- 3kg/6.6 pounds
- Omnidirectional microphone
- 2 x 76mm mid-woofers
- 2 x 20 mm tweeters
- 235mm x 92mm passive radiator
- Bluetooth 3, A2DP v1.2, HFP v1.6, Headset profile v 1.2
- Up to 10 meter/33 feet wireless range
- Up to eight paired devices, two active connected at any given time
- 14 hour max playtime
- 130 day standby
- Integrated carry strap
- Dimensions: 5.43″ x 4.01″ x 11.89″
What’s in the Solemate Max box?
- Solemate Max
- Charging brick
- Charging cable
- USB cable (which can be used to charge a phone or pair with computer)
- 3.5mm audio cable (located on the bottom of the speaker)
The Jabra Solemate Max in action
It took a couple of days for me to actually test this out at full volume. I couldn’t do this indoors, as I had an exceptionally cranky baby on my hands (teething, it’s not fun), and it also decided to alternately be freezing cold, raining, and otherwise not good speaker weather – but finally I did.
My first attempt at cranking it up was in my front yard, where I quickly decided to kill it when it was audible over to the retirement castle across the street. I stopped that, as blasting covers of John Denver at full volume is not my thing and moved around back.
At this point I placed the Solemate Max on the ground and started walking. At 16 paces the audio started sputtering, so somewhere around 28 feet or so was how far my phone was willing to transmit. Not too shabby, although in a crowded room that will be drastically reduced. Cranking the audio and leaving the phone, I walked 26 paces before the audio just wasn’t particularly distinct any more.
For the average house or pool party, this covered the range of what it needed to, although with the speaker being designed for that scenario throwing in the speakerphone functionality seems a bit odd, but oh well.
The bass and sound reproduction quality on dampish dirt was what you would expect, but the audio shines when you put it up off the ground on a decent surface. Not the best audio I’ve heard; however, hands down the best audio at the volumes it’s capable of producing in a portable Bluetooth speaker. That’s a compliment even if it doesn’t read like one.
Jabra Solemate pros
- Extreme battery
- Charges cell phones while it plays
- Carrying case for audio cable
- Can be used as a USB laptop speaker
- Can make and receive phone calls
- Controls built on top allow for fast forward, rewind, play, pause, answer/end call, volume, battery status
- Great sound
- Pair new devices via NFC or voice guided Bluetooth pairing setup
- Footprint has treads, can grip surfaces pretty well
- Rain, dust and shock resistant (unfortunately does not list level of liquid it can survive)
- Dolby Digital sound
- Firmware is updatable
- Laptop sized charge adapter not built in
- Can’t charge a tablet (DJ iPad 2 is disappointed)
- Battery capacity not specified so no clue the number of phone charges you can get out of it
- By default makes sounds turning on and off
- Heavier than a brick
- Audio cable kind of short
- I’m not a fan of their Dolby software
- Pretty pricey at the moment
I found when attempting to write this up that at the moment there’s no MSRP listed on the website, nor is it listed as even available. This isn’t unexpected with the Jabra website, as it doesn’t seem to receive the attention it needs. Amazon has the price listed as $399.99 which I’m hoping will drop after it’s out of the gate for a few weeks.
Good speaker, would probably be in the $80 range if it were wired, I do not see a reason at this point for speakerphone functionality, sound effects and voice are annoying after a while but can be disabled, I’d expect to pay about $250 for something like this. But it might be worth it if you want it for this summer’s pool parties.