Jabra’s big daddy portable speaker isn’t cheap at £249, but it packs a powerful punch.
We don’t spend all our days at Clove playing with smartphones you know. Sometimes we get to play with speakers and other toys too! It’s a little outside the standard product range for Clove, however Jabra are an established audio brand whose products have always sold in decent numbers as accessories. With this in mind I took the plunge with their newest – and largest – portable speaker, the Solemate Max.
First up is looks; when you’re spending over £200 on a piece of kit, you want it to look the part. The Solemate Max is somewhat chalk and cheese in this respect, with a grey rubber casing dominated by the perforated silver speaker grille that stretches round the whole unit. There are also flashes of yellow in the handle, controls, lettering and a yellow 3.5mm cable.
The style won’t be to everyone’s tastes (what is?), with the overall look being similar to a larger Pure radio model. It conforms to modern trends, inoffensive with a splash of neutral colour, although would struggle to fit in with traditional décor.
At around 3 kilos the unit is surprisingly heavy. It remains portable, however I wouldn’t want to be carrying it too far in any one trip. This is definitely more of a unit that can be easily moved from room to room, or from car boot to beach, rather than kept in your bag every day.
The controls reside on the top of the Max, seamlessly covered in the same rubberised surface material as the rest of the speaker. They have a responsive ‘click’ and the soft touch finish is pleasing, whilst also being easy to wipe down and clean. Several ports adorn the far end of speaker, opposing the chunky handle to the left side, providing a number of connectivity options. Here is where you’ll also find the NFC tag for one-touch pairing with compatible devices.
Finally the base of the device is ribbed like a boot sole to avoid sliding around and features the unit’s logo. There’s also a quite neatly cut groove and sockets for storing the included 3.5mm audio cable, perfect for connecting to devices without Bluetooth or computers/laptops/screens with audio output.
All said the Solemate Max has a functional and simple design, almost understated in some ways. If it wasn’t for a 2014 RedDot Design Award I would say it’s a style that’s not trying to win awards; possibly the best compliment a product designer can hear!