Bluetooth has not really taken off as a technology for wireless stereo listening: its forté is more in the realms of wireless mobile phone conversations. But you can combine these two worlds with the i-Phono BT420EX.
The kit has two components. A headset which can be paired with Bluetooth devices, and a small box with a 3.5mm headphone jack which can be plugged into any device that emits sound (for example a portable or desktop computer, TV, portable music player). The box is a Bluetooth transmitter, and when paired with the headset allows you to use Bluetooth to receive sound output from the originating device.
Note the limitations of this kit: the Bluetooth transmitter won’t send voice data from a non-Bluetooth mobile phone to the headset. You can only get sound out of such a phone, and must pair the headset directly with a Bluetooth phone for voice access.
Nor can the headset switch connections automatically, so you can’t be using the plug-in transmitter to, say, listen to music from a portable music player and have the headset switch connections all by itself when a call comes in to your Bluetooth phone.
The process is more cumbersome, requiring you to pause the plug-in transmitter then connect with the phone to take or make a call. And you’ll need to be able to hear an incoming ringtone or feel your phone vibrate to be prompted to take calls, of course.
Even with these limitations the kit has potential. We tried the plug-in transmitter with a laptop, portable music player and even a TV and it worked well, though you may need converters for the various sized headphone sockets around your home, and the 10-metre Bluetooth range can be restrictive: we did find ourselves wandering out of range on occasion which we found irritating.
Both the transmitter and headphone are coloured iPod white, but snap-on covers can turn the headset earpieces blue, orange, lime green and red. Its back-of-the-neck fixing feels a little clumsy and the headset is far from stylish, but sound quality was impressive.
Large buttons on the headset make it easy to control volume and the microphone used for voice calls can be tucked away into the headset itself when it is not in use. Also handy is the fact that the headset folds down to assist with portability. The supplied splitter for the power cable means the internal cells of both parts of the kit can be charged at the same time.
The transmitter box is very small and light, but if you are carrying it around with a portable music player it may prove cumbersome. The product box includes a Velcro strap to link transmitter and portable device together, but a better solution might be to pop both into one of the many available carry cases.