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Cerulean TX+RX: The Review.

by Richard

iSkin recently sent along a couple of their new products for me to try out… the Cerulean TX + RX (Transmitter + Receiver). I think this is a very useful pair of devices, and that they fill a gap in the MP3 player accessory marketplace that needs to be filled (I know, I know you can’t believe that there’s actually a new iPod accessory out that isn’t a copycat at least 20 others on the market :))

The thinking behind the TX + RX is pretty simple: Your iPod or other audio player itself is the best full featured remote control for your music, so why not make a device that lets you use it that way? There have been quite a few Bluetooth adapters that plug into the bottom of your iPod and let it transmit its music wirelessly, but they’ve always been paired with Bluetooth headphones, and you can’t transmit to anything else. With the TX + RX, you can transmit virtually any audio device with an output to any other audio device with inputs. It is, of course optimized for iPods, as there is a male dock connector on the TX to connect to an iPod, and a female dock connector on the RX for an iPod dock. iSkin lists the following devices you can use these to stream audio to and from with the TX + RX: iPod speaker docks, MP3 Players, gaming consoles, home stereo receivers, and laptops. Obviously though, you can figure out all sorts of situations where these would be useful. iSkin has thoughtfully included 1/8 inch jacks on both of them so that you can connect to pretty much anything you please… so I did!

I used the TX + RX to connect my iPod to my car stereo, as I already have an 1/8 inch auxiliary input in there, and I thought it would be really cool to be able to stream music from either my iPod or my cell phone to my car with no wires. It worked brilliantly. The TX and RX come prepared to pair with each other out of the box: you just plug them in, give them some power (if you’re using an iPod and an iPod dock, that’s covered, and if not, you can use the included USB cables) and they’ll find each other almost immediately and begin streaming audio.

The music came in loud and clear, and everything from metal to pop to slower, more melodic music sounded great. I also tried pairing the RX with my cell phone, as the RX supports Bluetooth audio over A2DP, so if you can stream Bluetooth audio from a device, it’ll work with this system. I was surprised to find that when I paired it with my Treo 750, it detected not only the Wireless Audio profile for audio streaming, it also detected Hands-Free capabilities. I decided that I just had to try the Hands Free profile out and so not only was I able to stream audio from the phone to the car, I was able to make a phone call using my phone’s internal microphone and my car speakers. That’s awesome, and totally unexpected!

I’ll be buying a set of these and using them to build their Bluetooth audio capability into my car for real, tearing out the center console and wiring the RX directly into my stereo and the power from the car battery. That’ll be a fun weekend project!

The TX + RX are available now as a set for $149, and they’ll also be available separately: the TX for $129, and the RX for $89.99.

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