Deck by Sol Republic portable Bluetooth speaker review: Slim size, big sound

Deck by Sol Republic portable Bluetooth speaker review: Slim size, big sound

By | Sep 13, 2013

The good: The Deck by Sol Republic speaker’s slimness makes it easy to slip into a bag for on-the-go use. It offers big sound for its size, has a

“multiuser” Heist mode, NFC tap-to-pair support, and a built-in speakerphone, and comes with a simple but nice carrying case. It can also stream audio from up to 300 feet away from your device — much farther than other Bluetooth speakers.

The bad: Should cost about $50 less.

The bottom line: While it’s priced about $50 too high, the Deck by Sol Republic is an appealing portable wireless speaker that delivers decent sound, a good feature set, and superb wireless range.

It took a while for me to figure out what the new Deck Bluetooth speaker from Sol Republic and Motorola reminded me of. Then it hit me: my old clamshell carrying case for the Sony PSP.

Indeed, it’s the same shape as the PSP and Vita, but beyond the portable-game-console similarities, its relatively flat design invokes a sportier, hipper version of the office speakerphone. The idea behind that design is that since it’s so slim, the Deck slips easily into a bag, making it easy to take with you wherever you go.

I liked how it looked and it’s pretty lightweight, weighing only 11.5 ounces. If yellow (aka “lemon lime” isn’t your color, it also comes in red, blue, or simple black.

There are volume controls on the top of the speaker, as well a multifunction button with the Motorola label on it that pauses and plays your music, answers calls in speakerphone mode — yes, there’s an integrated microphone — and also skips tracks forward and back. (That speakerphone performed well: callers said I sounded loud and clear on their end.)

The Deck does have a few notable extra features. Like the Jawbone Jambox, it has voice prompts to let you know your device is paired and how full the battery is. And for those who have NFC-enabled devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Moto X that this speaker was launched with (Sol Republic and Motorola have announced a new accessories partnership that also includes headphones), you can tap the speaker with your device to pair them.

More interesting is the Heist mode. After you flip a little switch on the side of the speaker, shifting from single-user mode to multiuser mode, you and your friends can pair up to five devices with the Deck, each of which is assigned a different color LED. You can stream music from only one device at a time, but if you hit play on a second device that’s connected, the Sol logo on the top of the speaker changes color, and that device takes over the music playback. Thus, the name Heist.

Battery life is rated at 10 hours, which is fairly decent. At more moderate volume levels, you should be able to get through the day (by day I mean daylight hours).

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