Solar Sound Bluetooth speaker October 2009

Solar Sound Bluetooth speaker

The Solar Sound is a solar-powered speaker that allows you to play music saved on any portable music player with Bluetooth or a 3.5mm headphone input. But does it deliver the goods? We got our hands on a Solar Sound to try it out.

Solar Sound Bluetooth

The Solar Sound, from Devotec, is a speaker that can play music from a number of devices, such as MP3 players, mobile phones and laptops and can charge through several sources. At just under £50, it looked like an interesting gadget, so we got one into the office for a first look review.

The Solar Sound is an oblong tube with speakers at either end, a solar panel on top, basic controls at the front, the mains switch and cable inputs at the rear and four non-slide feet on its base.

To charge it you can plug it into the mains or a USB port on a PC or laptop or you can leave it to soak up the sun. When it’s fully charged or charging, you can play audio through the Solar Sound by connecting your music playing device with either a 3.5mm audio lead, or a stereo Bluetooth connection.

The 3.5mm input will allow you to play music from most MP3 players, including iPods, and from many mobile phones. An extendable 3.5mm audio cable is supplied with the Solar Sound. Check out our mobile phones reviews to find out which models support a 3.5mm audio connection.

Using the Solar Sound with Bluetooth

If you want to play music through the Solar Sound over a Bluetooth connection, you’ll need to make sure that your Bluetooth device – such as a mobile phone or laptop – supports the A2DP Bluetooth standard. This is the Bluetooth stereo variety and may not feature on some older mobile phones.

The pairing of the two devices is very simple. Simply switch on the Bluetooth on your A2DP music playing device and search for the Solar Sound, enter the 0000 pass code, and you’ll be able to begin streaming music to the Solar Sound.

If you receive a call on your mobile phone while streaming music to the Solar Sound, the music will be paused. While this may suit you, it may disgruntle any companions who were enjoying the music.

Sound quality on the Solar Sound

The sound quality isn’t great, though it’s likely to be better than any built-in speakers that your mobile phone may have. There are, of course, many other devices that will allow you to share the music on your mobile phone in this way, but the Solar Sound is particularly portable and takes charge from the sun – making it suitable for camping trips. It also comes with a tidy pouch to protect it while you’re carrying it around.

Operation is simple. After pressing the power button on the back of the Solar Sound, the device beeps and an LED on the front switches on. The three buttons on the front allow you to control the volume, skip through tracks and switch the Solar Sound into and out of its sleep mode. It will default to sleep mode when not used for a few minutes.

The instruction manual is basic and contains some typos, but it’s easy to follow. The USB cable is a little short, which is fine for charging from your PC if your PC is sat on your desk. If your PC lives on the floor beneath your desk, then it’s likely that you’ll have to leave the Solar Sound on the floor too, where it could easily get kicked.

The build quality isn’t terrific, and glue can clearly be seen where edges meet.

It can be bought from CuteBitz for £49.99.

Pros: Portable, easy to set up, can be charged by solar power

Cons: Build quality isn’t great, USB lead is short

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