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CNET First Look
Sol Republic and Motorola debut Deck wireless speakerThis slick Bluetooth speaker is feature-packed but pricey at $199.99.
-I'm David Carnoy, Executive Editor for CNET.com and I'm going to give you a quick video tour of another wireless Bluetooth speaker, the DECK by SOL Republic and Motorola, which has a list price of $199.99. The first thing you notice about the DECK is that it has a relatively flat design and looks like a sportier hipper version of the office speaker phone. The idea behind that design is that since it's so slim, it will slip easily into a bag. So, you can take it with you wherever you go. I liked how it looked and it's pretty lightweight, weighing only 11.5 ounces. If yellow isn't your color, it does come in a few other color options including simple black. It does have volume controls on the top of the speaker as well as this multi-function button with the Motorola logo on it that pauses and plays your music, answers and ends calls in speaker phone mode. Yes, there isn't integrated microphone and it also skips tracks forward and back. The DECK does have a few notable extra features like the Jawbone Jambox, there are voice prompts onboard to let you know your device is paired and how full the battery is. -Battery full. -It does get around 10 hours of battery life according to Sol Republic. And for those who have NFC-enabled devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Moto X that the speaker is launching with, can tap the speaker with your device to pair it. More interesting is the Heist Mode, after you flip a little switch on the side of the speaker shifting from single user mode to multi user mode, you and your friends can pair up to 5 devices to the deck, each of which is assigned a different color LED. You can always stream music from one device at a time, ranges about 30 feet. 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 music playback, thus the name Heist. The other feature worth mentioning is the speaker has both an audio input and audio output so you can connect a non-Bluetooth enabled audio device or daisy chain multiple Decks together to get bigger sound. Now, about that sound, it's pretty good but it's not $200 good. So, the speaker is designed first and foremost to sit on a flat surface and fire upward, it's not surprising that it's being billed as delivering 360-degree sound. The so-called surround effect does have its limitations and you do have to experiment a little with placement to optimize the sound quality. For a small speaker, it does play loud and can fill a small room with sound, it also has an outdoor mode that boost the sound and changes the sound a little bit to make the speaker better suited for outdoor listening. But other $200 competitors such as the UE Boom and Bose SoundDock, many delivered bigger, fuller sound with more bass. Both of the speakers do way more however. Don't get me wrong, though, after using the speaker for a few days, I came away liking it. it's a very appealing design, it's easy to carry around and had some cool extra features. The only issue I had with it is the price tag. Performance wise, it just doesn't measure up to $200 competition, but other than that is a decent little Bluetooth speaker. I'm David Carnoy and that's the DECK by Sol Republic and Motorola. Thanks for watching.