Several manufacturers have come up with a variety of solutions that give the user the ability to open up the audio output to a wider audience. In some cases the solution is device specific with the iPod being the clear favourite, but there are some solutions that cover the whole range. Falling into this agnostic category is the i2i Stream product from Aerielle Inc., a Mountain View, CA based company with offices in Hong Kong.
Basically this product allows you to stream and receive audio content from your music player using wireless signals over a range of up to 30 feet. The kit consists of two Stream units plus various accessories. You get two 12-inch audio cables, two 28-inch audio cables, two USB charging cables, two pocket clips, two neck lanyards and a concertina-style User Guide.
The Stream units are wireless digital devices that can broadcast and receive audio data on the 2.4GHz frequency. Predominately black in colour and small in size (63 x 32 x17mm), the Stream draws its power from a built-in battery that can give up to seven hours of use from a single charge. The initial charge takes between five and seven hours with a flashing red LED that indicates when charging is taking place. Charging can be carried out via the supplied USB lead when connected to a computer or mains if you possess an appropriate adapter plug – this latter method does help reduce the recharging time.
One of the Stream devices needs to be connected to an audio player that has a 3.5mm jack output socket – generally available for headphone connection. For this purpose you have the choice of the 12 or 28-inch audio cable depending upon which is the most suitable. The input connection on the Stream device is located on the base of the unit. An output socket for attaching headphones is positioned on top of the unit next to the on/off volume level switch. Decorating the front of each Stream unit are buttons to send and receive data separated by a large channel selector button.
There is support for seven different frequencies and these are colour coded to help with identification. The colours used are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, cyan and purple. By setting both the send and receive units to the same coloured channel, the audio signal will then be transmitted. The unit chosen for receiving could be attached to an external speaker system or personal headphones. You also have the option to attach headphones to the first stream unit.
In my tests the 30 feet limit was definitely the maximum range with signal transmission beginning to break up as you approached this limit especially if walls or other obstructions got in the way. However keeping below this figure (I would suggest 25 feet or less) would ensure a good clear signal. The use of the provided lanyard and pocket clip accessories does give a choice of how to wear these devices if you intend to move around. My preference was for the pocket clip.
According to Aerielle you can connect as many Stream devices as you like (or budget allows) without any audio quality degradation. However my tests were limited to the two units that form the standard package which is priced as £68.51. The i2i Stream device is expected to be the first in line of planned accessories for the iPod and MP3 players. I look forward to seeing what the company offers next.
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