Jabra is well known for their professional wireless and wired headset solutions, making a name for themselves in the world market. In order to differentiate themselves from their competitors, Jabra decided to come up with a wider product range to meet the highly sophisicated and specific customers. At the same time, they also brought the best of Jabra to these new products – wireless audio and speakerphone technology.
Last year, Jabra released their first handsfree speakerphone to the market. While the media was all talking about how intuitive the Freeway was, it was also the starting point for Jabra to move into the wireless speaker market.
Fast forward a year later, Jabra just announced the Jabra SOLEMATE, a new product that aims to change the way people think about portable speakers. It’s a shift in marketing strategy from Jabra, targeting a wider average consumer audience. Even though the SOLEMATE has handsfree speakerphone functionalities like the Freeway, it is branded solely as a portable speaker.
Product Features and Specifications
|Core features and functionality|
|Durable Sound bag included|
|Durable Sound Bag|
At a first glance at the Jabra SOLEMATE, you will realise that it is not the usual portable speakers. The high quality packaging of the SOLEMATE gives potential buyers a great impression, similar to viewing jewellery across a glass panel.
Wireless Technology: Bluetooth
Supports Bluetooth™ for wireless connectivity
Bluetooth version: 3.0
Supports Bluetooth® version 3.0
This device does not support AVRCP, meaning you cannot
control your music directly from the device
Auto Pairing: Yes
With Auto Pairing, a device pairs automatically with
Bluetooth® devices supporting this feature
Music Streaming: Yes
Device can stream music from a source, such as a
Smartphone, Bluetooth enabled laptop, tablet, or MP3 player
Remote Call Control
Digital Signal Processing: Yes
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is a technology that
digitally optimizes your voice and music and suppresses echoes
Microphone Type: Omni
Enhances call clarity by eliminating background noise
from the office.
Music streaming time: 10 hour
Music Streaming Time is the maximum time you can stream
music before a device runs out of power
Mute function: Yes
Mute gives you the option to mute/unmute the microphone
directly on the device
Aesthetics and Design
|SOLEMATE is designed around the idea of a shoe|
|Volume and command buttons at the top|
Access buttons are located at the top of the unit. As mentioned, the SOLEMATE is also a speakerphone. The command button in the middle allows users to pick up and hang calls, or even initiate Siri or Google Voice action to give users a handsfree experience. There is a built in microphone within the speaker unit to ensure that you’re heard in a call.
|Jacks and switches at the side|
|Bottom designed like a shoe’s sole|
The rubberized base of the SOLEMATE claims to reduce the vibrations and shocks, keeping the speaker unit in place even after the volume is cranked up.
|3.5mm cable aesthetically hidden as a shoelace|
The 3.5mm audio cable is cleverly hidden at the base of the shoe, putting the final touches to the design of the sole of the shoe. Next time, you’re sure that your audio cable won’t go missing again.
What I really liked.
How often will you see speakers disguised as a shoe? The Jabra SOLEMATE is definitely one of its kind, bringing speaker designs into a whole new level. Because of the design of this product, the rubberized “Sole” of the Jabra SOLEMATE compliments to the technical feasibility of the speakers, reducing vibrations and movements to the speaker unit, preventing it to move around with its heart thumping bass which it produces. I’m simply amazed by how SOLEMATE exemplifies what the perfect meeting of science and design can bring to a product.
User Friendly Voice Feedbacks
Upon switching on of the device, the user is greeted with a sound feedback from the speakers, indicating that the speaker is switched on. When you want to pair your bluetooth enabled audio playing device to the speakers, a catchy tune is played and a sexy male voice prompts you to search and connect your audio device to the speakers. Your friendly male friend also notifies you of your low battery, reminding you to plug the unit in for charging before you leave your house for a full day camp tomorrow. All these friendly voice feedbacks are simply evidence of how much Jabra engineers has put into product development. With these feedbacks, the speaker is much more user friendly and I definitely had a great user experience when playing with this set of speakers.
I have always thought that the size of the speakers actually matters a lot on the quality of the sound coming out from it. However, the SOLEMATE has changed my views towards that idea. The SOLEMATE is a lot like a Home Theater setup’s soundbar, just that it’s made much smaller and portable. Astonished by the amplitude of bass this small device can reach, I’m actually having thoughts of throwing my set of X-Mini away after comparing it to the SOLEMATE. SOLEMATE performs really well compared to the X-Mini, producing audio which are clear and loud, yet at the same time being able to produce deep bass which keeps your heart racing. Kudos to the speaker technology team at Jabra.
Use of Universal MicroUSB interface
Jabra SOLEMATE uses a MicroUSB interface for charging. This also means that you can connect your portable power bank to the SOLEMATE to charge it while on the go. It doesn’t matter if you forgot your SOLEMATE charger because you can simply make use of you smartphone’s charger to charge the unit. If not, just plug it in to your computer and it will be powered by the current from your USB port.
Flexibility in audio input
As SOLEMATE is made to be portable, it is made wireless by Bluetooth Technology and also at the same time, you can connect it through a standard 3.5mm audio jack to your MP3 player. If not, you can even connect the speakers to your PC by connect via MicroUSB. Drivers are automatically installed, so you need find go on the internet and find the correct drivers for the product.
Long battery life
Connecting SOLEMATE to my handphone, I managed to squeeze 6.5hours of continuous audio goodness from the SOLEMATE, which is out of the world, judging from the size of the unit. After that, I plugged it into my Yoobao portable power bank and I was good to go for another 4 hours again. Good audio which lasts long sounds pretty good to me.
What I didn’t really like.
Difficult to maintain
Unfortunately, the dust can be easily seen on the black unit of the Jabra SOLEMATE. Once dust gets into the front grills of the speakers, it’s almost impossible to get them out. Someone suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder could probably get nightmares when he realises that the insides of his speakers are full of dusts and dirt. Additionally, as SOLEMATE is made for the outdoors, there’s an even higher chance where it gets dirty. The product developers were thoughtful about such situations and included Jabra SOLEMATE with a durable sound bag which solves all these problems. However, without soundbag, the speaker unit is not easy to maintain.
Use of material
When designing a product, some tradeoffs have to be made. Rubber is a great material to keep the speaker firm and steady, but it wears off easily too. The sole of the SOLEMATE like any other shoe, will degrade overtime. The device is made for the outdoors and I believe that the user will see significant wear and tear to the sole of SOLEMATE. “The eraser effect” will take place and nothing can be done to get the SOLEMATE back to its shape. Although the use of the durable sound bag could solve this problem, one loses the rubber properties of the speaker when the speaker is placed inside the bag.
Pricing is probably what is deterring mainstream consumers in laying their hands on the brand new offering from Jabra. SOLEMATE costs S$288, a price which not everyone can afford. Besides that, you can probably daisy chain 10 new X-Mini portable speakers together with the same amount of money.
Pricing and Availability
Each unit comes with a 1-yr warranty. More info on warranty and service centre at www.setelco.com.sg
The Jabra SOLEMATE is a great product for consumers who are looking for a highly portable speaker solution, yet reluctant to compromise audio quality. SOLEMATE gives the best of both world in terms of space and sound. With its high quality and durable design, this premium product is the dream of audio enthusiasts who are always on the move.
A premium product also has a premium price tag to it but I’m glad to say that the Jabra SOLEMATE justifies the amount of money you are paying for it and it will be a good investment with its feature packed solution.