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March 01, 2014

DECK by SOL REPUBLIC and Motorola Review

SOL REPUBLIC, a speaker manufacturer known for their hip designs, and Motorola joined forces and came up with the DECK — a Bluetooth and NFC-enabled speaker with eye-catching physique and a pack full of features. Is it impressive? Read on.

DECK specs and features:

R2 Sound Engine
40mm low profile speakers with 360-degree natural sound
60Hz – 20kHz frequency response
Bluetooth V4.0 and NFC
Wireless up to 300 feet
Outdoor Boost
Heist Mode
96 x 185 x 29mm
325 g

DECK 1

Design

SOL REPUBLIC has always been creative with their designs and DECK is a testament to this. Upon first glance you’d notice the grid-like texture on the face of its all-plastic body that looks like it came straight out of an iTunes visualizer. SOL’s logo is slapped flat on the device which changes color depending on who’s currently playing (I’ll get to that more later on). In addition, we have volume controls situated comfortably on opposite sides, and a Motorola logo that can play/pause the song, among other things.

Located at the back of this wireless speaker, we find all the ports and switches. There is a power button and switch that toggles between single user and multi-user, the IN port for wired connectivity, and the OUT port for connecting it to a bigger speaker (making the DECK just a Bluetooth receiver). The OUT port also functions in a way that you can daisy-chain it with other DECKs for a bigger sound.

Underneath, you have a rubber strip with the same textured design to keep the speaker still while music is playing. A bass diaphragm on one side of the DECK is placed to let its 40mm low profile speakers breathe.

DECK 3

Wireless connectivity

DECK has been equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC for wireless pairing. One feature, the Heist Mode, lets up to 5 devices be connected to the speaker all at the same time. Because of this, the next user can play his song right after the previous one (and keep the party going) to avoid dull times while pairing the next device. The entire “SOL” logo changes color to indicate which device among the 5 is currently playing.

This department is actually where DECK has an edge over its fellow wireless speakers. With other Bluetooth speakers limiting you to stay inside its 30-foot range, DECK lets you go further to a maximum of 300 feet. But as I’ve experienced, the 300 feet should be clear since obstruction interferes with the signal and halts the stream. On the other hand, playing wirelessly nearby works well even if there’s no line of sight between the two devices.

When connected, this speaker can also be used as a loudspeaker for calls using its built-in microphone. Answering a call may also be done by pressing the Motorola logo on the speaker.

DECK 4

Sound performance

So I popped in Daft Punk’s latest album and played ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ to test out the overall sound reproduction of the DECK. Initially, sound clarity was noticed. The discotheque-sounding guitars were delivered as if live, as Pharrell’s falsetto voice rose above the instruments with good distinction. Bass joins in on the fun with juicy thumps and kicks, but somehow I find the chimes and all the other highs being drowned out and a bit dirty. This performance still proved consistent after playing couple more tracks.

Music sounds equal in different locations around the speaker thanks to the 360° Full Sound technology and its flat build that throws the sound upwards. Although I believe it’s because of this vertical direction that the lows and mids of the sound are the ones easily heard, while the highs get overpowered by a little. This is one tradeoff I personally couldn’t sacrifice since I want my sound equal.

You probably thought the function of the Motorola button ends at answering calls, but its function still continues. Pressing and holding it enables the Outdoor Mode that boosts the sound so you could use it even…well, outdoors. Be ready for it to chug down serious battery juice, though.

Battery life

The DECK promises that it can last up to 10 hours of continuous playing, but of course it all depends on varying factors. I used it on an out of town trip and started at full battery, played songs every time I was in my hotel room for about a total of 2-3 hours per day and it only lasted me two days since I like my music a little loud.

So if you’re using it as party speakers (which almost all features point to it being used as so), I suggest you use it near a power source. If not, it makes sure you know the time when to charge since there is a JARVIS-like voice prompt that reports  the battery’s status once in a while.

Conclusion

DECK 2

DECK by SOL REPUBLIC and Motorola is truly a feature-packed speaker, no doubt about that. Some of the features, like the increased Bluetooth range and speakerphone are nice to have, but I’ve proven that they don’t work as flawless and as important — at least for me. Having two of these at home just so you can use its daisy-chain function isn’t totally wise, in my honest opinion.

At Php13,000, I find it expensive. It would attract me more and maybe even make me buy one if it’s around Php8,000. Yes, it is impressive, but with its asking price DECK is something that you’d probably want, but not totally need.

What I liked about it:
– Funky design
– Lightweight and easy to bring around
– Good lows and mids
– Can pair with up to 5 people simultaneously

What I didn’t like about it:
– Lacks treble
– Too pricey

The unit is available at Pismo Digital Shop at the East Wing of the EDSA Shangri-la Mall.

Devices that will soon get Jellybean update
Samsung unveils DA-F60, NFC and aptX in tow
Moto X official ad hints at Build-to-Order smartphones

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Kevin Bruce Francisco is the Senior Editor and Video Producer for YugaTech. He's a Digital Filmmaking graduate, a music junkie, and a superhero by night.

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