There is no denial that wireless is soon being pronounced as the future for this emerging tech industry. Firstly, the phones became wireless and then headphones turned wireless. While most wireless devices are relying on a wireless charger, solar charging (the old-fashioned wireless charging) is making its comeback. And from calculators to flashlights, here is a Bluetooth speaker that charges from our own free and plenty, natural resource — the Sun.
ZOOOK SolarMuse speaker is a Bluetooth 4.0 supported speaker that comes with a solar panel. The company claims that the speaker can give you a good 30 minutes of audio playback with just 10 minutes of exposure to bright sunlight.
ZOOOK is an audio peripherals manufacturer and the company has been in the Indian market lately, offering a plethora of portable Bluetooth and wireless accessories. SolarMuse is a newly added device in their lot of Bluetooth speaker line-up. The differential factor amongst other speakers is the added functionality of the Solar panel on the roof that allows it to charge from sunlight when outdoors, eliminating the need of a power socket. Of course, you can also charge it using a conventional 5V smartphone charger when indoors or at night.
Weighing around 430g and measuring 68X62X200mm, the speaker is just smaller than the size of a conventional brick. The build quality of the speaker is undoubtedly rugged and comes in a honey-comb hard rubber shell made of refined ABS and rubber. This shell makes it substantially portable and can be carried anywhere without hustle. Mounted with a solar panel on the roof, it also comes with a built-in torch — great for those outdoor camping trips.
Apart from Bluetooth connectivity, the speaker also features an AUX input for external media players. Two LED indicators on the rear panel show the battery level and pairing status each. The speaker supports AVRCP which allows the speaker to control the playback apart from answering calls.
As spoken earlier, the external body is covered with a rugged silicone rubber that gives it a tough shell. The body is also water resistant with an IPX5 rating — so be free with how you use it outdoors. The speaker will be unaffected by dust, sand or water.
However, the rubber surface is pretty prone to attracting dust, which could make this device look ugly after some use. Cleaning the device often is your only remedy. The speaker is highly portable and can be tucked away easily into backpacks, or can be hung using the bundled carabiner hooks. The speakers also come along with rubber flaps that can be used to attach it to a bicycle.
The solar panel on the roof is built using a monocrystalline silicon. It produces power rated at 5V/200mA when exposed to bright sunlight. This power is used to charge the internal batteries when it is not in use. Since the device is prone to extreme temperatures, the company warns not to charge in relatively high temperatures.
The speaker is equipped with double magnetic 16-core 40mm drivers with a separate bass diaphragm for additional bass output. The speaker also supports A2DP, HFP, HSP, EDR with AAC, MP3, SBC stereo Bluetooth audio profiles.
The solar speaker supports 3D surround sound — thanks to the APT-X chip that supports HD lossless audio technology to generate 3D stereo audio. Lastly, the built-in battery is said to provide up to 30 hours of audio playback on a full charge. The internal battery can recharge via a power adapter in around 3 hours, while solar charging can take up to 10 hours for a full top-up. The company claims that, “the efficiency of the solar charging depends on various factors that include the angle of the sun, time of the day etc."
As mentioned earlier, the built-in torch produces bright cool white light, that comes handy during outdoors or when at home during a power outage. The torch also supports SOS flash.
Setting up the speaker is pretty simple. Simply turn on and the speaker automatically goes into pairing mode. If you need to connect the speaker to a second smartphone or device, simply disable the Bluetooth on the first device or unpair it from the same and the ZOOOK will automatically re-enter pairing mode. The speaker works within a range of 10 metres from the source.
After using the ZOOOK ZB-SolarMuse for a while, we state that the audio output is pretty above average. The highs and lows are equally balanced, however, being small in size, the bass delivery is decent. 3D stereo surround is on by default and the effect is audible when watching movies. Casual music using this device should be satisfactory for everyone — its pleasurable. The volume levels are pretty loud too — using the device outdoors will not be a problem.
The battery life is remarkable and probably can be very hard to kill — thanks to the continuous background solar charging. With a moderate use of 3-4 hours a day, on a full charge, you can expect around two weeks of playback to the max.
This rugged speaker very convenient to carry around for beach/pool parties, camping, or can be simply attached to your bike during long rides around the country side. ZOOOK’s rugged SolarMuse is totally worth investing on if you are a nature lover or enjoy frequent trips outdoors. With the advantage of solar charging, calling features and a dust-proof water-resistant rugged body, this speaker is definitely a gadget for your trips. The speaker is available for an MOP of Rs 4,550, which makes this device a great value for money.
With inputs from Francis D'Sa, Editor...