Headphones From Harald - Part 2

Source and sink. I covered the sink, now let's talk about the source.

The source end of Bluetooth A2DP solutions is even worse than the state of the sinks. Headphones are finally coming out. The problem is, we're stuck with half-crap dongles for most of the A2DP sources. Bluetooth technology has been slow to catch on in portable media players. There are a few players on the market that support it, but if it isn't in the iPod, people really aren't noticing.

To A2DPize your iPod, you must use a dreaded dongle. Dongles suck. They add bulk. They ruin the visual design. They usually require their own charger. They lack features that could be achieved with tight integration. They can break off. These all apply to A2DP adapters.

The adapter I chose for my solution is the Jabra A125s. It connected to the dock connector, which allows for track skipping and volume control (AVRCP). It wasn't too huge. The colors matched. The price was right.

Well, it works, sort of. All of the player controls work just fine. You can play/pause, control the volume, and skip tracks. One delight feature was the fact that you can wake a sleeping iPod with a press of the play button on the headphones. One other nice thing is that when the dongle runs out of battery, it will pause the iPod as its last action before shutting down. Nice. Range is so-so. Line of sight can barely get 10m in a clean environment. This isn't a problem when you have your player in your pocket or backpack, but it doesn't allow you to sit your player on the front steps and mow the lawn listening to wireless music.

The dongle charges via mini-USB cable to a USB port on your computer. This is the best you can get other than not requiring it to be charged at all. I wish it could just suck juice from the iPod. The dongle runs out far before the iPod does. That leaves you switching back to wired mode, which sucks. You can use the dongle while it is charging, but I can't use my headphones while charging, so this has limited use.

The on/off switch is a little hard to use since you can barely see the indicator lights behind it when you are pushing it. The colors of the plastic match the iPod pretty well. They even mirrored the back to match the iPod. The depth is also pretty close to matching my 60GB iPod.

Pairing was simple and effective. I haven't had any problems with that.

Now the worst part. Either my unit is bad, or this thing has poor performance, antenna or error rate. If I'm at home, on the bus, or in open areas at work, things work fine. It will only skip about once an hour, which to me is usable. However, when I'm at my desk, which is awash in a sea of 2.4 GHz transmissions, the solution is unusable. It will work and then enter fits of skipping for up to 20 seconds at a time. I've used dongles from Plantronics and Logitech in the exact same environment and didn't have these problems. At this point, I can't use my Bluetooth audio solution for the reason I bought it (use at work). I'm going to have to try another dongle while I continue to wish for Apple to put it in the iPod.

Stay tuned.

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