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Lemon’s new Bluetooth speaker harnesses the power of the sun for off-the-grid fun

Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days, especially at CES. Water resistance? Seen it. Microphone on board with Siri support? Nothing new here. But startup Lemon has added a nice twist for the beach bound with its new speaker, the California Roll, by incorporating a solar charging panel that allows you to keep the party going — even off the grid.

Lemon’s new speaker is far from the first of its kind — Eton has been successfully pumping out solar-powered speakers for years. But the California Roll does offer an intriguing form factor and a punch of sound in a very portable design. It also brings an updated feature set with all the trimmings you’d expect from a speaker hitting the market in 2017.

The speaker is carved into a familiar tubular design, with basic controls on one end that allow you to control functions like volume, Bluetooth pairing, and the onboard microphone. It has a pairing function that allows you to double down with two speakers for stereo sound. It also offers both a microUSB and 3.5mm analog input, as well as a USB port to allow the speaker to double as a charging bank — not exactly a revelation in the Bluetooth speaker segment, but adding in the solar charging functionality makes this a great option for music fans hitting the outdoors for extended periods.

The speaker is also water resistant with an IPX-7 rating, allowing it to be fully submerged in up to 3 feet of water for as long as 30 minutes. The California Roll will come in a variety of colors with both mesh and metal speaker screens.

When it comes to sound performance, we weren’t able to judge very well on the CES showroom floor, but it does get pretty loud and appeared to offer a full and punchy midrange in our limited aural introduction. The downside is the speaker takes up to seven hours to charge by the sun, and around half that from an outlet. However, while we were initially told the speaker couldn’t be charged during playback, the company has since reached out to let us know that isn’t the case, meaning it could theoretically be charging the whole time you play outdoors.

Lemon is expected to ship its new California Roll in March with a price point of $250. You can find out more by going to the company’s website.

Updated 2-1-2017: Clarified that Lemon has reached out and confirmed the speaker actually can be charged by solar power while playing, meaning it is much more versatile when it comes to battery longevity for outdoor use.

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