Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bluetooth Music Receivers

Bluetooth Music Receivers are a great way to connect your phone or iPod to non-Bluetooth devices. Most come with both a 3.5mm-to-RCA and a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable, so they’re perfect for connecting to that old shelf system at your vacation spot, a pair of powered speakers, or even to a hotel TV or radio, and there are a plethora of inexpensive options to choose from.

My favorites are the Belkin ($39), the Rocketfish ($49), and the Kanex AirBlue ($49). All score about the same in the device connectivity and distance departments. The Belkin is well thought out and dependable, as are most of their products. The Kanex adds a rechargeable battery, which is pretty handy if power is an issue, and the Rocketfish adds an Optical Audio Out option to the mix. As with all electronical gadgetry though, there are a couple of caveats you should be aware of;

First and foremost, these devices are not backwards compatible with all versions of Bluetooth. That means there’s a chance they won’t work with your particular phone. Check out the manufacturer sites for compatibility charts and user reviews before choosing.

Secondly, Bluetooth connectivity is pretty much same room, line of sight, remember this. I was surprised by reviews complaining about Bluetooth connectivity range: “I got a call and stepped into the other room and the music stopped”, or “I want to hide the phone/iPod in a drawer behind the couch, but then it won’t sync.” Same room, line of sight, with a max separation of about 20 feet, and people or objects passing by can block the signal (blocking interference is more prevalent at distances over 15’). I have seen these things work up to their rated range of 33’, but it was a straight shot across my pool, so technically it’s possible, but conditions have to be perfect.

If I’m syncing with a sound system, I prefer to use one of my iPods rather than my phone, and I place the iPod on the coffee table or somewhere near the sound system, and then use it like a remote. This way there’s no connectivity dropouts, and there’s also no phonus interruptus to the music flow. Plus, you won’t end up incommunicado should you wear down the phone’s battery while you’re busy jumpin’ and jivin’. Nice.

So, while Bluetooth Receivers are not the perfect, one size fits all solution for connectivity, they are a great alternative to docks and cables, and a very cheap way to upgrade old components instead of deep sixing them.

That is all.

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