They may pack in magnificent processors, loads of information, fancy cameras and displays, but when it comes to sound, most gadgets — be it smartphones, tablets or notebooks — tend to come up short. Some possess volume but lack clarity while others offer just the inverse. Which is why speakers are alive and well in the accessory market. Of course, they too have been undergoing changes, morphing from solid, tall structures that sat imposingly in one’s living room to smaller, more compact devices that one can just pick up and lug around.
If you are the sort who actually likes to switch a speaker from one device to another, instead of buying different speakers for each (which can be expensive and inconvenient), then the Jabra Solemate is an option worth considering. It can work with any device that comes with Bluetooth, a 3.5 mm jack or USB cable, so you can use it with your phone, your tablet, your notebook, your console — just about anything.
The sneaker speaker
Forget the sound, it is the appearance of the Solemate that is likely to grab your attention when you first clap eyes on it. It is just over half a foot long and about seven cms tall. At 610 gm, it is light enough to be carried around (it fits into the palm of your hand), and comes with an attached strap for this very purpose. The design of the device seems to have been inspired by sneakers, rather than speakers with its lower portion having a ribbed look that is not unlike what one gets to see on the soles of running shoes of the non-spiky type. Look closely at it and you will see a 3.5 mm cable tucked into it, with the pins lodged inside to keep them free of dust. The ribbed lower part also means that the speaker will not slide off very smooth surfaces, especially when you turn the volume up, and the set vibrates a little. There are three buttons right on top of the speakers for increasing and decreasing volume and to take calls, when you pair up the Solemate with a phone - yes, it can be used as a speakerphone too.
Wired and unwired for sound
And then there is the business end of the device — the speakers themselves. The Solemate has three front-facing speakers, one sub-woofer and dual tweeters. We will just jump the jargon and say that if you are looking for high quality sound in your living room, then the speakers do more than enough, although we could notice a slight distortion occasionally when we tweaked the volume all the way to the highest level. If you are the type that likes slow music with not too much instrumentation, you are going to love the Solemate — the haunting opening chords of Hotel California sounded wonderful.
There are no tweaks for settings on the speakers — you are going to have to do that from the device which is playing music. Speaking of which, the speakers connected smoothly over Bluetooth to our iOS and Android tablets and also to our Windows 8 notebook without any hassle — the devices recognised it and after being connected once, reconnected automatically. Of course, if everything fails, there is the option of just using the cable to connect the speakers to your device, where once again, recognition is quick and performance very good indeed. And as this is a portable device, it comes with its own battery, which serves up about eight to nine hours of music. Again, not bad at all.
It can work with just about any sound-emitting device, delivers a decent performance and is light enough to be carried around — heck, it looks so stylish that you would like to be seen carrying it (although Jabra does throw a ‘Sound Bag’ into the package). Yes, it does not come cheap at Rs10,990, but if you are looking for a speaker that you can carry around and connect with everything from your notebook to your desktop to your phone to your console and combines great looks with very good sound, you would be hard pressed to find a sound-er investment. Pun intended.