Eton Soulra Solar Powered Sound System review:

Eton Soulra Solar Powered Sound System

The Soulra is compact, measuring 6.6 by 11.9 by 3.5 inches (HWD). It weighs around 3.5 pounds, so it's got a little heft to it, though it's easy enough to carry around (there's a handle built into the top of the unit). Like most modern iPod/iPhone speakers, the Soulra is GSM shielded, so the iPhone doesn't need to be locked into airplane mode when used.

It's worth noting that if your iPhone or iPod is sheathed in a protective cover, you may have to take it off to get the device in the cradle. Once it's in the dock, you can then slip the removable translucent shield over it, which helps keep your device dry in the event of a splash of water or sand. It's also worth noting that Eton has included a rubber cover for the power and auxiliary inputs on the back of the unit, so you can keep them sealed off when you don't have something plugged into them.

Overall, the Soulra has an attractive, almost industrial design that seems like it will hold up well over time (that said, we only tested it for a few days). We liked the included remote--it, too, has a durable look and feel. If we had some quibbles, it concerns the lack of an FM tuner and the sound quality, which was fine but not quite on par with the Tivoli Audio iPAL, for example, or some of Altec Lansing's portable offerings.

Even with the bass boost on, the low-end didn't have much kick to it, and the speaker tends to distort at higher volumes. Still, for outdoor use, most people will find that it sounds just fine for casual listening.

You can get more-affordable portable units, such as the Logitech S715i and the Altec Lansing inMotion Classic that offer better sound. And the S715i even offers an onboard rechargeable battery as well. But those models don't feature the built-in solar panel, which adds value and provides the Eton Soulra with a uniquely "green" selling point.

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