When I saw the Sol Jam Bluetooth speaker at the ECOXGEAR booth during this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, I was intrigued. We’ve seen all sorts of Bluetooth speakers, but this one has a built-in solar panel. A quick look at the numbers revealed that it can indeed run all day, and night, with a little help from the sun.
First, let me go over some of the specs. At only 5 inches deep, 6.1 inches wide, and 3.1 inches tall, the 25.1 ounce Sol Jam is very portable. Inside, it has a pair of 10 watt speakers, plus a subwoofer. That should provide plenty of volume for most people. We think it’s great for a backyard BBQ, by the pool, or while camping. And feel free to use it by water, or even on the water. Yes, it floats! So no worries about a little splash, or even some rain. For 10-12 hours of run time, there’s a 2800mAh battery tucked inside. Of course, that time is shorter if you use the Sol Jam to charge your device via the USB out port.
Across the top of the speaker are buttons for the controls. These include power, Bluetooth, volume up and down, playback controls, and battery level. A set of five blue LED lights indicate the state of the battery charge. You can also take calls on your Sol Jam, when paired to your phone. Note that this works best when you’re close to the speaker, although your phone can be up to 30 feet away.
Tucked inside the back panel, behind a waterproof cover, are several ports. In addition the main on/off switch, there is a USB out, micro USB in for charging, and even an audio in. That audio in is handy when using my old iPod Nano indoors. Having the port unlocked and open renders the speaker susceptible to water. So consider that an indoor option only.
Pairing the Sol Jam was quick and easy. It even verbally tells you when it’s ready to pair, and when you’re connected. We tried it with a Nexus 6 as well as the iPhone 6. Once connected, the sound is actually pretty good, for a waterproof speaker. The highs are clean, the bass deeper than expected, and the voices and instruments sound good. This is a good time to mention that it’s a speaker for outdoor enthusiasts, not audiophiles. Also, sound quality can only be as good as the source. With lower quality audio files, the sound is not so good. Overall, it’s more than good enough for background music.
Let’s get back to the solar panel, since that’s the whole point of the Sol Jam. When you play the Sol Jam at high volumes, it will consume 300-400mA of current. But if you’ve got it out in the sun, that panel can return around 350mA to the battery. Run it at part volume during bright summer days, and you should be able to listen to tunes all day, and into the night. Of course, you can check the battery at any time with that top-mounted button.
After a few weeks with the Sol Jam, I’m pretty impressed. So has everyone we’ve loaned it to. Maybe that’s because it’s the right combination of all the things we like. It’s compact in size, puts out a good amount of music, and requires no batteries. So far, no one has complained that they were able to drain the internal battery either. Because who doesn’t want good tunes, to go with their good times? Check it out, with the rest of their products, at ecoxgear.com
I’d like to thank Ecoxgear for sending the Sol Jam for this review. It’s been tested most evenings and weekends since we got it, and has been one of the most popular items we’ve covered lately. If you’re looking for more portable audio options, check out the headphone tips at Spriee.