SoundBite Summary: A powerhouse speaker with a Droid-like exterior and multiple connection possibilities.
Price: $299 (Holiday $199 special via their website!)
Sound: This thing is scary loud, reminding me of my very first Sony boombox. Through the grill you can see that there are three sets of speakers to cover the whole range. In testing I heard impressive sound in all three ranges. But I was especially impressed by the deep bass I got out of the Nao.
Setup & Use: The big news with the Nao speaker is the range of connectivity options. Let’s begin with the three hard connection option: you can connect it to your computer via USB and use it as a computer speaker; you can connect it to anything with an auxiliary cable; and you can dock an iPod on the top with an iPod dock. While the USB and auxiliary connections are on the back panel, the iPod dock is on the top, possibly annoying those who don’t plan on using the Nao with an iPod. Thus, the Nao comes with a cover panel that can be put into place above the iPod dock portion, completely hiding it from view.
The Nao also let’s you connect to other devices over the air: you can stream music from any computer via bluetooth A2DP; or you can connect to the Nao via WiFi and use it as a a networked speaker. The A2DP connection is pretty straight-forward and easy to use. I installed the WiFi connection software that allows you to stream your music to the speaker via WiFi but find that there was a lag and the software was only media card based–meaning I couldn’t easily stream Pandora over WiFi. Thus, I would recommend the easy-to-use and more versatile A2DP connection over the WiFi connection specialty software.
Exterior & Build Quality: The Nao looks like a rough machine. It forgoes rounded edges, in favor of a block like structure with two protruding ridges. But while this doesn’t sound quite attractive at all, Nao makes it work. In addition, the square-ish figure gives the appearance of strength. Another thing I like is the matching of the blue indicator lights with the black plastic exterior and black grill. Its a nice design step that is both techy and classy, matching up nice with the newer BlackBerry models.
Final take: If you are looking for a serious looking speaker system for your home, this is a powerful option that offers a variety of ways to connect a variety of devices. Keep that in mind if you are the type who would like to position the speaker on the shelf and maintain wireless connections to your devices.
Note: We received a demo unit from the company in order to write this review.