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Monday October 7, 2013 1:20 pm
SOL Republic x Motorola Deck review
The world of the portable Bluetooth wireless speaker is a crowded one, but SOL Republic is confident that its Deck speaker can stand above the rest, what with it's unique feature set. The SOL Republic Deck is a $199 speaker that comes out of of a collaboration between the company and Motorola (which took care of the Bluetooth connectivity side of things,) resulting in a flat, eye-catching design that can pump your beats with relative ease. Is it worth your time and money? Join us for our SOL Republic Deck review as we answer that question.
The Deck features a unique shape when compared to just about every other Bluetooth speaker out there. It's a flat unit with nice curves all around--you won't find any sharp corners here. The actual speaker grille area even features a cool design effect, with different sized tiny cutouts on the top, and a glowing SOL Republic logo adorning the face of the unit. It's flat enough to fit into a back pocket, although we wouldn't say that this would be the most comfortable way of carrying it around.
One side features all the ports and controls--a pairing switch that also allows you to select between a single-user mode and Heist mode, where up to five people can pair up at once, two headphone/AUX jacks (one in, one out,) microUSB charging port, and the power button. The top of the unit has volume buttons and a button that lets you select an indoor or outdoor mode.
USING THE DECK SPEAKER
We're pretty sure the majority of our audience understands the usefulness of a Bluetooth speaker. A small, lightweight speaker that connects to your smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, laptop, or anything else that supports Bluetooth music streaming and can play that music or other content at a much higher volume, enough to where multiple people can enjoy the entertainment.
The SOL Republic Deck sets itself apart with a few key features. When you first turn it on, you're greeted with a voice prompt that lets you know your current battery level. To get paired up, you can go through the simple Bluetooth connection process on your device, or if you have a smartphone that supports NFC, you can simply tap it against the Deck's NFC area for auto-pairing.
Gallery: SOL Republic Deck
Once paired, you can begin streaming your music, audiobooks, and even phone calls (the Deck has a built-in speaker, allowing it to act as a Bluetooth wireless phone system.) If you have a device that doesn't support Bluetooth, you can plug it into the Deck by using the AUX In port, and enjoy it that way. In fact, you can use the AUX Out port and connect it to the In port on another Deck speaker, stringing multiple units together for an even bigger, more impressive sound array.
One of the key features is the 300-foot Bluetooth range. That's a big deal when you realize that most Bluetooth speakers boast a 30-foot range--90% less range than the Deck. There no Bluetooth speaker with greater range than the Deck, allowing you to freely roam around a house, party, or park without the music suffering because you walked a bit too far away.
If you use the Deck at normal volume levels, you should get about 10 hours of battery life out of it--more than enough for a few listening sessions and conference calls.
One of the flagship features on the Deck that sets it apart from other speakers is Heist Mode. Flip the switch on the Deck from single- to multi-user mode, and a whole new level of fun and interaction is opened up. Now, five different devices and be paired to the Deck--all at once--and each can take over what's playing at any time. So, you and four other friends can all be connected, taking turns playing tracks through the speaker. The SOL Republic logo on the Deck will change color depending on which device is currently in control, so everyone knows who took over at a glance. It's a fun way to let everyone get in on the action without having to pass around one device.
The Deck sounds good for what it is. It can get loud, and can definitely fill a room. The outdoor mode is appreciated, as it tuned and optimized the music for a better experience where there are no walls to bounce the sound off of. We did find that it would suffer a bit when bringing the volume way up, but that's the nature of the beast with these types of devices, so we can't hate on that too much, when it's something that you can expect from competitors in this space as well.
The SOL Republic Deck speaker has a few key features that make it stand above the pack in the crowded Bluetooth speaker game, but at $199.99, we think it's just a tad too expensive to justify, even with the extra stuff. We'd love to see the price reduced by about 25%, since that would make it a no-brainer. That said, for a small speaker, it can get loud, and the sound quality is better than we expected it to be for a speaker of this size.
It's a good speaker with cool features, and if you hang out with friends and love sharing music, this is the one to get. It's easy to carry, has very impressive range, and even has a good look (available in yellow, blue, red, and gunmetal black.)
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