While I was cleaning out the attic the other day I found a neat little stereo. It has all the usual play/pause, volumes controls and stuff, but the weird part is that it only takes these funny looking shiny circular thingies – there wasn’t an iPod connector in sight. That’s just weird.
But you know, plugging your player into a stereo is soooo last year – Bluetooth is what 2007 is all about. In fact, Orange revealed it special Bluetooth Stereo Loudspeaker System back in October, but it should come its own this year as more and more handsets start to offer the latest stereo Bluetooth standard, called A2DP, which has been designed specifically to stream high quality audio wirelessly.
The speakers fit together as a single unit, or you can separate each speaker from the main unit, with a little under 1m worth of speaker cable to play with on each. The controls are pretty basic and consist of a single volume dial, which acts as the power switch as well, and the essential Bluetooth button. There is also a 3.5mm line in.
Acoustic Energy is the company which actually makes Orange’s speaker set. It has a good reputation for making decent speakers and that really shows here. The sound has a pleasingly warm feel to it with a good balance of bass power and definition. You can really pick out a lot of the subtleties in what you’re listening to and you can crank the volume up to full and never experience any kind of distortion.
Pairing with a Bluetooth handset is very straight forward as you would expect – you just hold the Bluetooth button for a few seconds to start the pairing process. Testament to the simplicity of the design is the fact that all of the instructions are on one side of an A4 sized instruction leaflet.
The flipside to that very basic design is that the looks are a bit unexciting and it lacks any kind of playback controls. In its defence, the AVRCP standard necessary for remote control of playback functions isn’t particularly widespread yet, but you will need to bear in mind that you’ll have to turn to your phone handset (or whatever you’re using) to control the tracks. But that’s not a particular hardship and the range is pretty good.
I’m also not much of a fan of how it looks when the speakers are separated from the main unit. What you can’t tell from the picture is that there are two hooks pointing out of each side to keep the speakers firmly attached. It ends up looking like someone has driven four giant nails into the central section, which is a bit naff. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to remove them, other than perhaps going at them with a pair of pliers – something I wasn’t willing to try.
Dimensions: 373 x 133 x 156mm approx.
3.5mm line in
If you have been using the A2DP Bluetooth standard to listen to music through compatible headphones, Orange’s speakers might well prove a very neat way of upgrading your sound to something more powerful. While they fall slightly short in the style and functionality departments, there is little to fault in the sound quality. The price tag of £90 isn’t too bad either and given that there aren’t currently all that many alternatives to them, it seems all the more worthwhile.
Related sites: Orange