Our garden has been filled with the sound of music for the past couple of weeks while I’ve been trying out the Soulra solar-powered sound system for iPod and iPhone.
The first test for any gadget I try out is its ease of use out of the box. Like many of us, I simply don’t have the time or inclination to fiddle about with my new technology, spending a weekend reading the user manual before I get any joy. Happily, I had the unit out of its box and working within a couple of minutes, which gives it a big thumbs-up.
My second bugbear is that every time I use a new piece of Apple-optimised gear, I find I haven’t got the most up to date gadget or piece of software and it’s suddenly not compatible. So I was delighted when I found my ancient iPod (circa 2006) was happily accepted by the sound system. So thumbs-up number two. The system is also compatible with iPhones.
Next, on to its solar charging abilities. The makers say that you’ll get four horurs of playback for every 10 hours of solar charging, or four hours of sounds for four hours of charging via the AC power cable supplied.
I tried it first on the AC power, just to check out the sound quality – which, with options to change the bass levels (although nothing else) – was excellent. A quick 10-minute solar charge got us up and running too, and I have spent the past couple of weeks with the unit on the garden table, providing non-stop tunes all day. The only caveat is that we have had an exceptionally sunny fortnight, so I have definitely benefited from the sun’s power. A simple display of lit icons give you info on whether it is being solar charged and how much juice is left in the battery.
Your tunes can be controlled either by rubberised buttons on the top or using the remote control, which we found worked from up to 20ft away.
The unit itself is good looking and has a rubberised body, which makes it feel a bit more durable for outside use – the solar panel flips up and does not benefit from the rubberised coating, so I’m not sure how it would stand up should it get knocked off a table while the panel was flipped up.
The body is also splashproof (if the panel is closed), so if it gets sprinkled during a rain shower it should be okay.
For anyone who spends a lot of time in the garden, goes camping or works on an allotment, this is an excellent choice of sound system to access all the sounds on your iPod or iPhone at a pretty reasonable £149.
Find out more at www.etoncorp.co.uk