And that’s because the brightly-colored polygon plugs into the back of a stereo system or a set of speakers and allows up to five smartphones, tablets or computers to connect wirelessly to it simultaneously, as long as they support Bluetooth, that is. As well as being able to DJ a soirée from your handset or desktop, there’s another social aspect to the Stream. Because it can support multiple phones, others can ‘challenge’ your musical taste and, in ‘heist’ mode, seize control of the virtual decks with their own playlists.
The device lunches this week in the US and costs just $49.99. However, bear in mind that although it connects to smartphones and other devices wirelessly, it needs to be plugged into a wall socket to work and that it connects to a stereo via a cable too. The Stream looks great: Motorola describes its shape as an icosahedron, and the heist mode could prove to be a killer feature. However the gadget is by no means a new idea.
Belkin has been making and refining Bluetooth receivers for a number of years and its latest gadget in the range, the HD Bluetooth Music Receiver, launched back in January 2013. Like the Moto Stream, it plugs into a set of wired speakers or a stereo system, but unlike the Stream, it can support up to eight different devices via Bluetooth and at $59.99 is just $10 more and is available internationally.
Increasing choice of wireless music systems for the home
Whether or not the Moto Stream is original is a moot point. What isn’t in any doubt is the growing interest in wireless speakers and wireless music streaming systems. The most recent Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study, published by the Consumer Electronics Association in May, shows that over the past year, ownership of standalone speakers or speaker systems that connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Apple’s AirPlay has jumped from 25 percent to 30 percent of US households.
At the same time, the choice of systems is growing, particularly at the highest end of the market. Three years ago, Sonos was the standout brand for digital audiophiles that wanted to fill each room in their homes with their mP3 collection but now Bose and Samsung have also unveiled rival offerings, and this month, Denon, that maker of impeccable hi-fi systems and separate components, unveiled its own range, called the HEOS system.
However, from the mid-tier down, the sound quality is often secondary to portability or ease of use and unable to offer the balance of tones that good old-fashioned three-way speakers and a dedicated amplifier (i.e., a stereo system) can deliver. And when one considers that a Beats Pill 2.0 Bluetooth speaker costs $199.99 and the Jawbone Jambox range of speakers starts at $129.99, the Moto Stream looks like a very appealing alternative.