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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First Impressions: Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

My two year old Roku Soundbridge's wifi card failed, and it's impractical to run an ethernet cable out to where the entertainment center is, so I disconnected it (some day, I might find a practical way to run it), figuring that I would use the PS3 to stream music.

The reality, though, is that it never happened. There's something silly about having to turn on the huge ass screen just to listen to music, so when one of Amazon's lightning sales gave me the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver at $20, I jumped on it despite the mediocre reviews about the range, sound quality, and the need to mod the product to get decent range. I figured I'd return it if it turned out to be no good, or mod it if the range was inadequate for my tiny home.

The product arrived and to my surprise, the power connection on the unit was the same as the very first version of the kindle, which meant that my gomadic system would work with it in the car, for instance. I plugged it into my system, paired it with my Nexus One, and away I went. To my surprise, the music sounded decent. Not "blow the doors off great", but on the other hand, no one had stuck a CD into the PS3 for ages, which is what it would take to get great sound. Furthermore, the Google Music UI on the phone gave me access to all the music in the cloud, with only a minimal delay for streaming.

I then tried pairing the device with XiaoQin's LG Optimus V. That device paired but did not connect. After a bit of frustration, I long-pressed the device selection on the Android screen and turned off the "Phone Audio" for the Belkin, at which point the connection went off without a hitch.

I was expecting to have to modify the device (read the Amazon Reviews for the details), but it turns out that in my tiny home, the range is just fine. What's sweet is that a bluetooth laptop, for instance, could just as easily stream to the device.

All in all, this is an incredibly cheap replacement for my Roku Soundbridge, and for $20, a more than good enough replacement for it. I still will eventually want to find a way to plug the Roku in, but for now, this works just great. Recommended.

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