Wireless Speakers and Headphones

The iPod seems to have induced a certain trend in the consumer electronics industry as many companies on the market rushed to manufacture accessories for the little device that allows you to take music with you wherever you go. Speakers and headphones were among the first choices as iPod accessories for consumer electronics companies. The next step was wireless speakers and headphones to allow more freedom of movement. We’ll try to discuss the pros and cons of wireless peripherals for the iPod as well as the models that each wireless component works with.

Logitech

Logitech began marketing in 2005 a wireless headphone unit that works with any model of iPod that has a dock connector on the base. This feature is standard on all new models and is available on older models as well. The headphones use Bluetooth technology to connect to the iPod through an adapter that transmits the signal. They come with rechargeable batteries that supposedly can play up to eight hours of music per charge.

The wireless headset is very light and weighs only 3.2 ounces, with the adapter unit weighing less than an ounce. iPod controls are provided on one of the earpieces, so there is no need to return to the iPod to adjust the volume or move through the play list. The iPod can be left sitting on a counter or on a desk, and the headphones will pick up the signal for up to 30 feet away.

Logitech also markets a wireless music receiver and transmitter that turns your current stereo into a receiver and set of speakers for your iPod. It comes with its own rechargeable batteries so it doesn’t drain your iPod. The receiver unit simply plugs into your stereo system and the transmitter onto your iPod. The system works with any iPod or MP3 player with a standard 3.5mm headphone output.

The benefit of this system is that you can use it to make your existing speakers wireless without having to purchase additional equipment. It is easy to plug in and use so you can easily move to other rooms in the house. The only drawback is the 30-feet distance restriction between the receiver and the transmitter.

Macally

Macally designed a Bluetooth based BlueWave iPod headset that connects to the iPod through a transmitter plugged into the iPod’s headphone port. One issue with the BlueWave system is that the transmitter unit doesn’t use the iPod’s connector for power but two non-rechargeable AAA batteries. Another issue would be the plastic notch situated by the headphone jack that prevents the transmitter from wobbling on the iPod’s top and which you will need to remove if you own an iPod shuffle or a first or second generation iPod.

The signal’s range should be around 30 feet but it varies greatly depending on the environment you are in, especially if doors or walls stand in the way. The headphones can provide up to eight hours of interrupted music depending on volume level and other factors. They are also powered by two non-rechargeable AAA batteries.

With the BlueWave system you can also wirelessly stream music from your iPod by connecting the headphones to the home speaker system with a RCA patch cable that fits in the line-out jack from the headphones.

Oregon Scientific

Oregon Scientific released in 2005 a very interesting wireless speaker system designed for the iPod, the iBall. The speaker is shaped like a bowling ball and it connects to a transmitter dock, that holds the iPod, through 2.4 Ghz wireless technology, with adaptive frequency hopping spread spectrum. The signal range should be up to 100 feet and the rechargeable batteries provide up to 8 hours of music on a single charge. It is compatible with iPods, iPod photos, iPod nanos, and iPod minis.

The iBall has a built-in remote for the iPod which you can use even if the iPod is not in the room. The speaker has a round LCD display that you can use to change volume and skip tracks, find out the time, wireless signal strength, battery power, play/pause status.

Wi-Gear

The iMuffs from Wi-Gear are wireless headphones made especially for the iPod but with a twist. They use Bluetooth technology to connect wirelessly to both your iPod and your Bluetooth enabled phone, so you can use them as a wireless headset for the cell phone. When you receive a call, the iMuffs pause the music on the iPod, ring in the headphones and allow you to speak in the integrated microphone.

The iMuffs system has a small receiver that hooks on top of the iPod and comes with a rechargeable battery that provides up to 12 hours of interrupted music. As expected with Bluetooth, the iMuffs headphones can pick up the signal in the 30 feet signal range. They also feature iPod controls on each earpiece for pause, volume, skip and search.

In the future, the market of wireless headphones and speakers for the iPod will become a bigger share of the overall iPod accessories market, as the signal range will increase, the audio output quality will get better and the batteries the manufacturers use for power will allow more hours of playtime.