With it looking increasingly likely that there will be actual sunshine this summer, more and more people will be heading outdoors for picnics, barbecues and general frolics. Devotec’s Solar Sound is a nifty little gadget for outdoor weather music.
In the box you get the unit, a 3.5 mm retractable stereo audio cable, mains plug that also works with USB and a little carry case.The unit itself is a medium-sized brick that connects via either Bluetooth or an analogue audio cable, making it ideal for mp3 players, tablets or laptops with awful built-in speakers.
Analogue playback is obviously straightforward. Just plug in the supplied stereo audio cable and press play for 5 – 20 hours. In testing this worked out to about 18 hours indoors, but your milage may vary.
Bluetooth is obviously a little trickier. Battery life goes down to 5 – 10 hours, which is still pretty good and playback has a range of 10 meters. I could stand reasonably far from the device and still get a signal and it works through walls as well. Line of site is obviously best.
Bluetooth support extends to all the acronyms you’d expect – Bluetooth 2.0 EDR with HFP, HSP, A2DP and AVRCP profiles so it’s pretty extensive. I tested the Solar Sound with a variety of laptops, tablets and phones and pairing was quick and painless. Bluetooth playback gives you access to the nifty music controls at the front of unit enabling you to skip ahead, rewind or pause. You can also use the audio output port, which enables you to playback Bluetooth devices on a regular hi-fi.
There is also a mic built into the device that enables a Bluetooth paired phone to be used as a speakerphone. You can start and stop calls from one of the buttons on the device and music is automatically paused. Whilst not the best conference-calling device I’ve ever used, the integrated speaker is however handy for dealing with incoming calls on a smartphone and is well suited to lazing around outside.
The most amazing aspect of the Solar Sound is the solar panel that stretches across the top of the unit. If you leave the unit in direct sunlight the battery will slowly recharge. 12-24 hours of full sunshine is stated in the manual although I lacked the weather to test this. During music playback, the solar panel can technically power the unit, either supplementing battery power or replacing it all together is the music is not playing full blast. Theoretically infinite playback is possible and in practice you can eeek sounds out of the unit after the battery is long gone, harnessing the power of the sun – which is pretty amazing for long sessions in the park.
The Solar Sound 2 is £69.99 from here