Have you noticed the explosion of bluetooth wireless speakers in the last two years? Everywhere I look, I see a new bluetooth-connected wireless speaker that you can throw in your bag, and connect to your phone, computer, or any other music-producing device to pump tunes wherever you go. A pretty brilliant idea and something that has serious practical use.
When are you going to use it? Well, if you’re like me, you’re going to use it almost constantly. I enjoy silence and I can zen out listening to the rain, but every other moment is filled with music. I’m so obsessed I had to find a way to work music into my budget fashion blog. I’ve been making music since I was under 10, and had a favorite musician (whose albums I could actually discuss) (hashtag Enya) by the time I hit 3rd grade.
Music has been by my side from the start, and with the explosion of portable, wireless speakers, it really can be with me at all times.
Jabra, a company renowned for their wireless and bluetooth technologies, released the first Solemate in 2012, and I got my hands on one for the first time earlier this year, and not a day goes by when I don’t use it.
Meet the favorite member of the household: our Jabra Solemate Mini.
Specifically, when Jabra asked me if I’d like to do a review (um, duh yes obviously), I selected the Jabra Solemate Mini – a small, rubber-covered, work-boot-bottomed speaker with only three little buttons, two little inputs and one switch, also little.
You may notice that my Solemate Mini is not exactly in “just out of the box!” condition. I admit it, I have a dirty Solemate. And there’s a good reason for it.
This wireless speaker gets used literally every day in my house. As soon as it was home for the first time, it was instantly being used by no fewer than three people in my house. In the mornings, it gets used in the bathroom for all of the showers. And for those of you who have put your phone in a bowl, glass, cabinet, or even the sink in attempt to amplify your shower tunes, this is what you’ve been waiting for. In the afternoon, it’s in the kitchen while I’m preparing food for dinner, and on the weekends, it’s outside in the yard while we’re working.
Oh, and that time our cheap tape adapter broke in our car and we were out of radio range, we used it on the dashboard to supply tunes for the most remote of road trips.
All you have to do is turn it on, open a music player on your phone or bluetooth-enabled device, and wait to hear the magic words: “Solemate is connected.” After that, it’s all shampoo-microphones and shower karaoke.
If you’re not bluetooth-enabled, or have no idea what it is and don’t care to learn right now (that’s okay), fear not: you can use the Jabra Solemate Mini without bluetooth.
The Solemate Mini has a small male-to-male audio cable so you can plug right into your headphone jack! That means MP3 players, cellphones, and any music device with a headphone input can be played and amplified through the Solemate!
As far as range, it’s pretty average for monstt
Me, personally – I go with Spotify. It’s my favorite streaming music service and I can’t imagine life without it.
Now I need to talk to you about Solemate’s amazing durability.
True story: One time earlier this year, during the rainy, foggy, weird-weather spring, my boyfriend left our Solemate Mini outside on a tree stump – completely exposed to the elements – for two days. Two. Days. Upon taking out the garbage one day, I noticed it and despite my obvious eye-twitch, I was extremely impressed that the Solemate Mini turned right back on as if it had been inside in a climate-controlled area for the last 48 hours.
As you may have noticed, the Solemate is named for its grippy, traction-increasing sole bottom, which perfectly matches many of Camilla Skovgaard’s best shoes. Aside from that, it also allows you to take it pretty much anywhere and lodge it somewhere to play your tunes for you.
It does well at an angle, it does well on its side. It has two surprisingly loud speakers that produce a good amount of bass with clear, crisp treble. When fully charged (via USB), it will play music for about 8 hours before telling you that it needs to be recharged.
The Solemate Mini is encased in rubber, preventing scratches and dings, and also keeping it splash resistant. That’s how mine was able to survive two days in the convergence zone north of Seattle in the spring!
Here’s a video of the Solemate Mini in motion:
Obviously, there’s a lot to love about the Solemate Mini… but I wouldn’t be doing it justice without talking about some of the frustrations I’ve had with this little player.
Firstly, you can’t control the volume of Solemate’s voice. Yes, Solemate has a voice, and it’s a very enthusiastic young man who annunciates really nicely and just wants to help you. But, when he says “Solemate is connected” at the top volume every time you hook it up wirelessly to a device… it’s kind of an attention-draw for a smooth “let me put on some music” moment.
Additionally, if it doesn’t auto-connect, pressing the center button will start some really terrible techno music and tells you how to connect your device to Solemate – again, very helpful, but ultimately embarrassing and uncontrollable.
Lastly, it’s tough to tell exactly when those eight hours of charge time… are gonna end. It would be nice if there were a battery gauge or some kind of meter to glance at to know when it’s time to hook it up to your computer or a USB wall adapter. There is a battery light on the original Solemate, but not its smaller counterpart.
Even considering all of these “drawbacks,” I can’t imagine a day when this speaker isn’t used, or a trip that this speaker doesn’t go on. It’s no bigger than a soda can, and can fit into my purse, no problem.
The Jabra Solemate Mini costs $99.99* and I think it’s worth the investment. There are four colors to choose from, the blue you see above, yellow, black and red. It would be a crazy good gift to someone who does a lot of hiking or camping, or someone who always “needs you to hear that song right now.” and doesn’t want to compromise sound quality by playing it loudly on their cellphone or laptop.
If you’re in love with this little box and want a bigger & better version (and are willing to dish out a little bit more cash), the larger version, the original Solemate, has a woofer as well as two speakers, and costs $149.99. There is one larger size, the Solemate Max – a dream come true for a lover of loud, and that monster clocks in at $299.99.
* The Solemate Mini is on sale right now for only $79.99! Now would be an excellent time to grab one.