The Solemate Mini is a durable unit with a sturdy rubber base that grips the table well to avoid movement, so don’t even think of buying two and racing them. It measures 12.4x5.3x5.8cm (length, width, height), and is small enough to fit into a large pocket or small bag.
The Solemate Mini has a compact design, with speakers on one side of the unit. The other houses a passive radiator that improves the bass output. On the top of the box there are three buttons, two for volume, and one for pairing. The pairing button can also be used for activating Siri on your iPhone.
The advantage of the size is portability, and the dual direction of the sound output means that it provides relatively balanced audio. A stereo cord is supplied that that allows the speaker to also be used with any non-Bluetooth devices, and the fact that it clips conveniently into the base of the unit means that you don’t need to remember to take it with you if a friend wants to plug in their device — just turn the speaker upside-down and the cord will be there.
We tested the unit with an iPhone 4s, an HTC Sensation XE, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 and a MacBook Air. The results were consistent across all devices, with pairing via Bluetooth being an easy three-step process.
The Bluetooth pairing is very simple. Just turn on Bluetooth on your device, hit the middle button on top of the Jabra, connect, and you’re away. NFC can also be used to pair the device. For devices that don’t have Bluetooth, then the provided cord that we mentioned earlier will come in handy.
We were able to get around seven and a half hours of continuous playback from the unit, which is pretty close to the eight hours claimed by Jabra. Seven and a half hours is still a considerable amount of time, and plenty for a small gathering where background music is all you want.
While it’s difficult to test the validity of Jabra’s claim of three months standby battery life, we were able to go one week between uses and the battery still held plenty of charge. Devices such as this are rarely used continuously over a prolonged period, so it’s nice to know that you can put it away and have some battery life the next time you use it. To charge it from empty only took about two hours.
The sound quality is good in an indoor environment or in fairly close proximity while outdoors. We were able to clearly hear audio in the next room inside an apartment. As long as the volume is not pushed above about 80 per cent, the clarity is good. We don’t recommend the Jabra if you are an audio purist, but suspect you will be looking at higher priced units if you are.
In Outdoor environments the sound dissipates considerably beyond about 10m. If there is any ambient noise about, audio can get lost in the ether. Sitting around a table with a group of friends, there is no problem hearing audio over normal conversation.
The balance in the Solemate Mini is nice in terms of bass versus mid- and high-range frequencies. As we mentioned, above eighty per cent volume or so there is considerable distortion, especially at the low end. This results in some serious rumble and vibration from the unit that makes some bass-heavy music particularly hard to hear. Unless you are planning a speaker war with a friend and aren’t looking for high-end sound quality, you should have no problems with performance.
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