Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sony makes good

I've lambasted Sony on numerous occasions. Well, to be fair, I'm not the only one. The last piece of Sony equipment I bought that didn't in some way disappoint me was a phone I bought back in 1993 or so. It's still out in the garage hooked up to the last POTS line in the house for emergencies. Well, Sony may have redeemed themselves. I'm still not 100% sure, though.

The product that did it is the HWS-BTA2W Bluetooth A2DP transmitter/receiver. I've put it out by the hot tub to use with the iPhone and XM streaming. The idea is that the XM app for the phone is not 100% perfect. It will sometimes have a hiccup that will keep it from working until you tap on it to retry. And if you play the music long enough, it will time out on inactivity. So because of that, it's sort of desirable to have the phone near the hot tub in a waterproof bag. Now that the phones support A2DP, bluetooth is the natural solution. I simply connected a 1/8" stereo to dual RCA audio cable between the line out port of the Bluetooth device and the two line-in ports of the amplifier for the speakers, and then paired it to my phone.

Alas, it's not total nirvana. For one thing, the hot tub is near the office. The office is where the Cell2tel is located. The Sony box is close by enough that the two will fight for the attention of my phone. So I have to tell the Cell2tel to "let go" of the phone by pushing the button on it before taking the phone outside. Once out there, I then need to turn the Sony box on. When I go back in, I need to reverse that procedure to get the Cell2tel working again. But that's not so bad. The other minor annoyance is that the WiFi signal doesn't quite reach the hot tub. The phone gets enough wifi signal to sign on, but actual data transfer doesn't work so well. So it's actually better to just turn off the WiFi and use 3G. But all those are just local considerations that affect my installation only. They're not condemnations of the device itself.

But there is one negative thing I can say about this product - it's overpriced. It's currently retailing for just shy of $80. I just bought a pair of LG A2DP headphones for just under $25 at Fry's. And those were battery operated and included headphones. This thing is a chip, two jacks, two buttons, a switch and two LEDs in a shiny plastic box with a wall wart and a short audio cable. It couldn't have cost them more than about $10 to build it. But It's a Sony! And they say that Apple gear is overhyped.

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