When I look in the mirror, I don't yet see an old man staring back at me. When I look at technology, particularly around music, I feel positively prehistoric!
I started out with a hand me down record player from my Dad to listen to my Disney songs on. It was probably 30 years old even then, but I thought it was the coolest thing, as it could suspend records and drop each down to play automatically as the last finished. It probably didn't do the records much good, but it could give you hours of music without having to move from the comfort of your arm chair (or kids desk, where I played with it).
Fast forward to the present and a cigarette box sized gadget can hold enough music to see you through months of listening, without having to pick up the same track twice. Not only that, you can buy almost anything you can think of (or steal if you're into that sort of thing) within moments of typing the title into your computer's web browser. Or you can subscribe to a service like Spotify and instantly have a collection of 18 million songs (and counting) to explore. There's never been a better time to be a music fan in my opinion.
It's not all perfect however. One common complaint amongst friends has been managing digital music collections has been a bit of a pain, not to mention the multitude of different adaptors you need to get the music playing on the car stereo, the living room HIFI and up in the bedroom, particularly if you use your phone, computer or tablet as your music player.
One fantastic, but fantastically expensive solution is to buy a multi-room setup where all your music is piped round the house via a collection of boxes hidden away whilst a cool wireless remote with a touchscreen allows you control from the sofa, or the bed or wherever you want.
However, in this time of high quality tablets and smartphones, there does seem less point in spending all this money if all you really want to do is say, play with Spotify on your iPad but enjoy the music out of your stereo, rather than the tinny built in speaker. Docking stations are fine, but if you're jumping around tracks and exploring your collection from a comfy chair, wireless is better.
If you have an Apple device, you can buy an 'Airplay' compatible stereo, or adaptor, but these are comparatively expensive and only work with Apple devices. No, I think the way forward is to aim for a more independent technology, one that can wirelessly play music from your smartphone or tablet, to your stereo, without you having to worry about which brand of any of those gadgets you bought.
For me, that way forward is the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver. Physically, there's not a lot to it. You get a small square box, not much bigger than a matchbox, and audio lead and a power adaptor. All it does is wirelessly pair with your (Bluetooth enabled) mobile, tablet, PC or whatever gadget you've got using bluetooth and then it'll stream your music in stereo to whatever you've plugged it into the via the 3.5mm jack. I've got it permanently connected to my amp in the living room, but it's just as happy in the car, although you'll need an auxiliary socket in your car stereo and the gateway will get its power from your cigarette lighter socket.
Once paired, it's so simple to use. Turn on bluetooth on the phone, turn on the gateway and the tunes will be sent that way automatically. I love relaxing on the sofa in the evenings exploring music on the iPad Spotify app with the music filling the room via the HIFI. Yes, purists will argue that the sound quality is no where near that of a CD (bluetooth will compress the sound a bit - but if you're listening to your ipod with the supplied headphones, you won't notice) - and they're right, but the convenience of wireless at such a low price is hard to ignore. Your phone/tablet becomes a wireless remote control with everything at your fingertips and there's no need to rush to a docking station when a call comes in and you're reminded that it's also a phone!
For under £20 or thereabouts, Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver, or its main competitor from Blackberry (which a good friend has and it does the same job just as well), I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
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