Remember that SOL Republic Bluetooth speaker that made a sneak appearance at Verizon's Droid event? Well, it's actually official now and the company wants to ensure its first foray into audio outside headphones is a success. Dubbed the Deck, the speaker is the result of a team-up between SOL and Motorola, with SOL providing its audio know-how and Motorola handling the wireless connectivity bit. The $200 speaker features a flat design that might fit into a pants pocket. Vertically positioned drivers and a side-facing port provide 360-degree sound, and an outdoor mode boosts the highs and cuts the lows if you need to fill open areas with sound.
Additionally, deck boasts a usable range of 300 feet, a sprawling distance compared to the the usual 30-foot line-of-sight limit you'll encounter on devices like the Beats Pill and Jawbone Jambox. Its Heist setting lets up to five devices connect without needing to enable a pairing mode and, like the name suggests, any user can steal the speaker by hitting play on their device. Rounding things out, you can expect roughly 10 hours of battery life, water-resistance (via a sonically-transparent bag), speakerphone functionality and a 3.5mm input / output. Interested? It costs $200 and is up for pre-order today in yellow, blue, red and "gunmetal." Shipments are expected to begin before August is over. In the meantime, you can join us after the break for our initial impressions.
Deck by SOL Republic and Motorola (hands-on)See all photos
We love the shape of the deck, even though we're not exactly sold on the yellow color of our prototype unit. While similarly priced speakers are smaller all around, this one simply fit less awkwardly in our pants (including the skinny ones), hoodies and backpack pockets. Heist mode worked seamlessy between our iPhone, Lumia 900 and MacBook Pro, each pairing quickly with mostly interruption-free connections. Better yet, every device gets assigned its own LED color in the mode so you know who hit play, but speakerphone functionality gets axed. Voice prompts are onboard to alert you to battery life and pairing modes, though we're hoping there will be a way to disable them in the future -- lights are simply less bothersome at times.
Getting into the sound quality, we dig the bassy and loud voicing that SOL put into this speaker. That said, a company rep let us know that the sound is indicative of the final production models, but we could see a few tweaks before these hit shelves. Outdoor mode isn't as full, but the treble boost does make it easier to hear in areas with more sonic pollution. As far as that all over sound goes, the unit is actually a stereo speaker with the drivers slanted slightly opposite of each other. The effect worked well, especially with Deck at the center of a room or a table.
Our main concern for now lies with the low end reproduction: the bass driver had some issues reproducing the lowest points of some EDM and rap tracks along with not sounding terribly accurate at moments. Sadly, the rubber foot also didn't help the unit from slowly spinning it self around during extra low bass drops. Distortion at high volumes was minimal and no worse than what we've come to expect from this type of kit. However, the speakers did sound a bit scratchy on certain tracks. Overall, Deck may prove to be an intriguing little speaker if the final shipping units end up with some tighter bass and slightly cleaner treble output from the drivers.
SOL REPUBLIC AND MOTOROLA MAKE MUSIC SOCIAL WITH NEW WIRELESS SPEAKER
HEIST MODE BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY LETS UP TO FIVE PEOPLE PAIR SIMULTANEOUSLY AND TAKE TURNS CONTROLLING THE MUSIC
New York, NY, August 1, 2013 – Linked by a passion for sound, style and technology, SOL REPUBLIC and Motorola, a Google Company, are proud to announce the DECK portable wireless speaker. Built on the companies' mutual commitment for improving people's music experience, DECK is the first and only wireless speaker featuring 360° Full Sound, 300-Foot Wireless Range and Heist Mode™, which allows up to five friends to simultaneously pair to DECK and take turns controlling the music. Music was meant to be shared and DECK is the first mobile speaker that enhances the shared music experience for everyone.
"Expanding beyond headphones has been part of our strategy since the company was founded," said Scott Hix, President and Co-Founder, SOL REPUBLIC. "We believe in the power of music and wanted to create a mobile speaker that not only has big sound, but also enhances how people share music. And, like we did with headphones, our speaker has to differentiate the category. DECK's revolutionary design, 360-degree powerful sound and Heist Mode redefine how music fans will use a portable speaker and make music social."
With unique styling and the power of 360-degree Full Sound, DECK ensures music sounds loud and pure no matter where you are in the room. DECK is the first wireless speaker with Heist Mode, allowing up to five people to simultaneously pair to the device and control the music. Now everyone can be the DJ and "heist" DECK to share their favorite track or change it up with a different sound. Heist Mode is supported through Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (NFC) and allows for seamless pairing or super-easy "Tap and Play." To show who has control of DECK, a backlit logo on the speaker changes colors as different users "heist" DECK with a new song.
"Motorola and SOL REPUBLIC share a passion for music and a mission to develop products that enhance the sound experience," said Matt Vokoun, Vice President, Companion Products, Motorola Mobility. "Our first product created from the partnership, DECK, shows how much we can do together to create products that will change experiences for music listeners in ways they didn't know were possible before, but won't want to live without."
Powered by R2 Sound Engines, DECK delivers full sounding music and maintains bass in a slim, portable design. Unlike other portable speakers that come with small speaker sound, the extra-large R2 Sound Engines combined with a bass port, high-watt amplifier, and huge lithium ion battery for power offer bigger sound than you would expect from a pocket-sized speaker.
Featuring Outdoor Mode, DECK allows you to press a button for a boost in sound that travels further when you want to listen to music outside. Plus, you can actually walk away from the DECK and keep your device in hand with Super Power Wireless range, offering up to 300 feet of wireless range.
With stereo in and out ports you can connect DECK to your home or car audio system and use Heist Mode through the amplified systems in your house or car. You can daisy-chain multiple DECKS together to create an unrivaled wall of sound. DECK even moonlights as a crystal-clear speakerphone as well so you'll never miss a call. Use DECK nearly everywhere in its standard, acoustically-transparent case so you can protect it while you listen to it.
DECK is available for pre-order today at SOLREPUBLIC.com, www.motorola.com and will be at leading retailers worldwide, including Radio Shack, Verizon, Best Buy, AT&T and Target within the next 30 days for $199.99. DECK is available in multiple finishes including Gunmetal, Lemon Lime, Electro Blue and Vivid Red.
For more information about SOL REPUBLIC, its partnership with Motorola and full line of products visit www.solrepublic.com or www.motorola.com.