Building a Bluetooth music gateway was not something new and is not exclusive to RIM. Recently I have found another gateway I am testing out called the Kanex AirBlue. Compared to the BlackBerry Music Gateway, this is a rounder version of the rectangular styled counterpart. Read on t o learn how they stack up!
In short, the Kanex AirBlue is a portable Bluetooth-based music receiver that enables you to wirelessly play, listen and control all your favorite music from your Bluetooth enabled device through your home stereo speakers. This is the same as the BlackBerry Music Gateway and the BlackBerry Stereo Gateway.
Additionally, the BlackBerry devices paired with the gateway are able to control the volume, although my Dev Alpha could not control the Kanax (It could not control when connected to a speaker as well), so I guess it was the device’s fault.
Similary, all 3 also have the same concept – one button to control everything. From power to pairing its all controlled and toggled by that one button on the top of each device.
The Kanex AirBlue is different, in the placing of the connections. Unlike the BlackBerry ones, this is built in a circular shape, with the charging port and 3.5mm output on 2 different ends.
Now did I say charging port? Yes I did. What sets this apart also is the fact that it comes with a rechargeable battery built into it! At full charge, at—or near—maximum volume & a constant stream, they are able to last about 3 hours which is plenty of time for an afternoon. Charging is via a mini-usb port, and takes about 30-45 minutes to charge via the computer’s usb port.
I have dropped it a few times from about 3–4 feet on accident, but the device still works fine. It is very lightweight and the plastic has a nice soft (rubber-like) tactile feel, a fingerprint-proof matte finish, and doesn’t seem brittle or shabby. The finish is similar to that of the X-mini speakers if have owned one before. This is different from the BlackBerry one’s, which are more metallic and glossy finish. Hence, in terms of looks, BlackBerry wins hands down.
In conclusion, with the price retailing at USD$49, this is quite a value-for-money gadget. Its light, much lighter than the other 2 bluetooth gateways, but yet, it gives you the same quality sound. There is minimal distortion just like the BlackBerry ones and is not your cheap typical Bluetooth receiver. The fact it has the built in battery would make this a much more worthwhile as it would truely be portable.
PS: you can also grab it at just USD$30.20 at Amazon.com!