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This Bluetooth speaker charges via four solar panels, is weatherproof with an IP66 rating, and sounds stunning. It also can be connected to up to 30 other Lodge speakers.
The speaker weighs in at 7.5 pounds
I've tested a variety of portable Bluetooth speaker brands over the past two decades. Most of the time, I connected these speakers to my smartphone and streamed music for backyard gatherings, beach outings, drive-in movies, and other events with family and friends. The most common issue I had with these speakers was the dead battery which plagued me because I'd often forget to charge the speakers in advance of an event.
For the past few weeks, I've been testing an amazing new speaker that solves my battery problem and also takes the entire audio experience to the next level. The Lodge Solar Speaker 4 Series 2 is covered in solar panels and has a massive 10,000 mAh battery. Consequently, you should rarely ever have to worry about a dead speaker.
In full sunlight, according to Lodge, you will experience infinite non-stop playtime; however, testing these during the winter hasn't allowed me to verify that claim. With indoor use -- or no solar charging -- the speaker is designed to provide 22 hours of playtime, which is still likely to last far longer than your event. Four solar panels are installed on the speaker with 180 square inches of solar capturing surface. The Lodge speaker also charges via USB-C on the lower back panel.
The retail package contains the speaker, a USB-C cable, and a three-piece outdoor mounting pole. The pole includes one end that is designed to penetrate a grass surface down about six inches. Another piece extends above that and then a round metal piece attaches to an opening in the bottom of the speaker. The round piece magnetically attaches to the bottom of the speaker with a single securing screw also provided to keep it in place.
The speaker has an IP66 dust/water resistant rating so you can use it without worry. The solar panels are also shatterproof and chip-resistant, and they're protected by the speaker grill on all sides.
An opening on the top of the back that extends nearly the entire width of the speaker serves as the carrying handle. It's easy and convenient to pick up the 7.5-pound speaker and carry it to your destination. I used it for a 50th wedding anniversary party and set the speaker down in the corner of a large rental hall.
Along the front of the top panel you will find a rubber strip with icons indicating the function of the button under the protective material. There are functions for power, battery status, volume control, play/pause, LodgeLink, and Bluetooth connection.
Connectivity is provided via Bluetooth 5.3 and if you purchase multiple speakers you can connect them using the LodgeLink feature built into each speaker. Up to 30 speakers can be connected via this feature so you can have extensive coverage and enjoy music everywhere.
The Lodge Solar Speaker 4 Series 2 sounds incredible, delivering very loud volume, excellent clarity, and solid bass. It is simply the best-sounding speaker I have ever tested. It has a 50-watt class-D amplifier, a three-quarter-inch tuned dome tweeter, a 4-inch tuned driver, and a 4-inch passive radiator. Party attendees could not believe that the music at the event was being provided by a single Bluetooth speaker.
ZDNET's buying advice
After using various portable Bluetooth speakers for two decades, my cabinet is littered with the dead bodies of speaker tubes with short battery lives. The Lodge Solar Speaker 4 Series 2 has raised the bar for Bluetooth speakers thanks to its solar charging capacity, massive internal battery, and extreme audio performance. With the current $100 discount, this is the speaker to buy for backyard entertaining, family picnics, and other events where you need to bring your own speaker.