New uses for iPod listening device

The Baltimore Sun

So let's say there are two of us and only one iPod. How'd you like to listen to it together, simultaneously, even if we're up to 30 feet apart? Didn't think so.

Other than a possible teen bonding ritual, I can't come up with too many share-an-iPod scenarios in which the Aerielle's i2i Stream wireless digital music broadcaster would be worth $120. Too many people, particularly the demographic that Aerielle appears to target, already have an iPod, anyway.

For those who don't own an iPod, $120 comes too close to the cost of a new Nano.

It looks like a dead end for the i2i Stream, two miniature transmitter-receivers, but in the spirit of the New America, we're not giving up so easily.

Why is the i2i Stream limited to the exalted iPod owner connecting the two devices and pressing the "Send" button while the pitiable iPod-less friend takes the other i2i Stream, connects some earbuds and presses "Receive"?

Why can't the i2i Stream send and receive audio from and to other devices? Well, it can, with the right connections and adapters.

I mind-bended the i2i Stream into a wireless audio connection for a hearing-deficient family member who recently welcomed a new 42-inch HDTV into her home.

Here's how I did it: On the back of the HDTV, you'll find a master audio output, a set of white and red RCA jacks (for left and right channel). I started with a basic RCA-to-miniplug cable. That, in turn, needed an adapter to get the 3.5 mm miniplug to fit the 2.5 mm opening on the i2i Stream (RadioShack part No. 274-373, $5.99).

Even though the i2i Stream devices have a combo on-off/volume button, the TV's maxxed-out volume was too much. This setup needs an inline volume control. We happened to have a pair, but they can be found for about $20 and up.

So we turned on the i2i Stream connected to the HDTV, chose one of seven colored broadcast channels on the 2.4-gigahertz radio spectrum, then pressed "Send." At the other end, with the earphones and i2i Stream in "Receive" mode, the sound came through loud and clear. It was much better than the $150 "doctor-recommended" TV Ears wireless headset this family member used until it started picking up interference from the newly purchased plasma TV.

Before this exercise, the i2i Stream was charged, using a computer's USB connection. This took longer than the Tournament of Roses parade in slow motion, so I bought two USB chargers - with a USB port and a plug for an electrical outlet - for about $2 each at monoprice.com.

The i2i Stream lasted about four hours per charge in our tests. Unfortunately, it could not be used while plugged in without transmitting bothersome interference. So every day or two, the i2i Stream needed recharging.

Perfect. No? But it's a potentially useful application. Or would you rather listen to my iPod with me?

I2I STREAM WIRELESS DIGITAL BROADCASTER

Price:: $120 (with free portable speakers)

Hot:: Wireless audio (available online as low as $80)

Not:: For what? Share-an-iPod? Takes too long to charge. For home use, does not work properly when in charge mode.

Alternative:: Audioengine AW1 Premium Wireless Adapter ($149, audioengineusa.com); better for home use.

Information:: i2igear.com

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