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Globalsat iPod iWAG Wireless Bluetooth Pack review 3rd April 2006

Review by Mike Barrett

 

Last Christmas we reviewed the Globalsat Bluetooth Entertainment pack this enabled your MP3 player or PDA to be turned into a wireless Bluetooth audio transmitter. Globalsat have now gone one stage further and produced an iPod specific Bluetooth Audio Gateway: the Globalsat BTA-809. When coupled with the Globalsat BTH-820 remote control of the iPod becomes possible.

 

Globalsat have bundled these two devices into the "iPod iWAG".

Globalsat bluetooth audio headset

Quick Navigation

Overview

Specs & Compatibility

Review

Conclusion

Resources

Overview

I love my iPOD (I was a late convert) but sometimes it is too big and heavy to be used comfortably. This means that I either have to revert to my old MP3 player, something I find a little frustrating as it means I have to plan my musical listening. If my mood changes I am then stuck with the tunes I have pre-selected.

 

Globalsat have cured my problems with the BTA-809 and the BTH-820. These two neat devices combine to provide a Bluetooth wireless link between your iPOD and the headphones. Not only do they work with the iPOD but the BTH-820 is also a Bluetooth Headset for your mobile phone.

 

With simple plug and play functionality is the GlobalSat iPod iWAG going to tick all my boxes? Read on and find out...

 

Globalsat BTA-809 iPod Wireless Bluetooth Entertainment Pack

Specifications and Compatibility

The BTA-809 is compatible with most versions of the Apple iPOD. I tried it successfully with the 4G, Video and iPOD Nano. Globalsat quote compatibility with iPOD nano, 3G, 4G, 5G, and iPOD Mini.

 

The BTH-820 is compatible with a large range of Phones, PDAs and PCs supporting the Handsfree/Headset profiles, and also A2DP and AVRCP where available. I have use the BTH-820 successfully with my XDA Exec, and Orange M500, and with less success on my iPaq 4700 (which doesn't support these profiles as standard).

 

As a general rule I have found that the devices that natively support the required Bluetooth profile work well, others where third party software is required can be problematic.

Globalsat BTA-809 iPod Wireless Bluetooth Entertainment Pack

 

The following specifications have been taken from the Globalsat site...

Globalsat BTA-809 iPOD Bluetooth Wireless adapter

 

Product Description Bluetooth Audio Gateway for iPod 3G/4G/5G/Mini/Nano
Certification FCC, CE, BQB, DGT, IC
Bluetooth Version BTv 2.0, Class 2
Chipset CSR BC3M
Production ROHS compliant
Frequency Band 2.4GHz ~ 2.4835GHz unlicensed ISM band
Bluetooth Profile A2DP, AVRCP
Device Form Factor Audio gateway for iPOD (With Battery) / Docking connector
Stereo Audio Specification CD-Quality, 44.1, 48KHz 16-bit Stereo Audio Codec
Auto Power Shut-Off after 10 minutes of inactivity
Play Time Up to 7 hours
Charging Time Up to 2~3 hours
Battery Rechargeable Li-Polymer battery
Operation Temperature -10 ~ 55C
Storage Temperature -20 ~ 60C
Humidity 10% ~ 90% non-condensing
Dimensions 61.8mm(L)*24.5mm(W)*15.0mm(T)

 

 

Globalsat BTH-820 Bluetooth Headset

 

Product Description Bluetooth Stereo Headset 
Color Blue / Orange
Certification FCC, CE, BQB
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth v1.2 Specification
RF Output Power Class 2
Frequency Band 2.4GHz ~ 2.4835GHz unlicensed ISM band
Spread Spectrum FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum)
Operating Range 10 meters (32 feet)
Sensitivity -80dBm @0.1%BER
Bluetooth Profile Headset,Handsfree,A2DP,AVRCP
Stereo Audio Specification CD-Quality, 44.1, 48KHz 16-bit Stereo Audio Codec
Standby Time Up to 100 hours
(Updated) Power Saving Purposes:
Has a battery saving feature automatically switching the unit off after 10 minutes of inactivity.
Play Time Up to 5 hours
Charging Time Up to 2~3 hours
Talking Time Up to 6.0 hours
Audio input Bluetooth signal
Audio Output 3.5 mm stereo jack
LED Indicator 2 LEDs (Blue and red)
Battery Rechargeable Li-Polymer battery
Operation Temperature -10 ~ 55C
Storage Temperature -20 ~ 60C
Humidity 10% ~ 90% non-condensing
Dimensions 63.5x28.5x18.5mm(L x W x T), Including back clip
Weight 19 g
Microphone Embedded microphone,(To avoid the noise interference, please put the microphone within 30 cm from your mouth while talking.)

 

The iPOD wireless system review

Well the technical specifications are fine, but they don't really tell you how easy it is to use the system, or how good it is. As the old saying goes the proof of the pudding is in the eating...

 

The first question you have to ask is why get rid of a wired headphone and have a wireless link? Well if you are a gadget freak like me then the answer is simple: because you can!!! However I appreciate that some of you may want to do it for practical reasons.

 

My iPOD is quite heavy and is not really practical to use in a lot of my activities. This ranges from running (yes believe it or not I do sometimes), cycling, working out in the gym, or even in a much more mundane environment on the train. Going wireless means that you can place the iPOD in a secure place an just have the 820 and your headphones on your person.

Globalsat BTA-809 iPod Wireless Bluetooth Entertainment Pack

Now you might look at the BTH-820 and laugh at the wireless concept as there are wires between the BTH-820 and the ear buds. Well yes, you do still have wires, but the Globalsat BTH-820 allows you to control the iPOD. this is done with 6 buttons which would be difficult to incorporate into wireless headphones. So you still have wires albeit short ones.

What you do get is a small control unit that allows you to connect to both a phone and your iPOD but it weighs less then 2g.

Globalsat BTA-809 iPod Wireless Bluetooth Entertainment Pack

The picture to the right shows the 3 iPODs I used to test the Globalsat Wireless audio.

 

The size of the BTA-809 matches the width of a normal iPOD and is colour keyed to the iPOD. The depth is the same as the 4G iPOD and marginally thicker than the 5G, Video iPOD. The iPOD Nano is considerably smaller though.

 

Pairing the Globalsat BTA-809 to the BTH-820 headset is simple. All you do is press and hold the power button until the led flashes blue and red on each device in turn. After a few seconds they will automatically pair and then the leds will flash blue, it is now ready to use.

 

You can also pair the BTH-820 headset to your mobile phone now. This is done in the same way by pressing the power button until you see a blue and red flashing LED then following normal phone pairing. You need to be careful not to be connected to the BTA-809 whilst pairing with the phone otherwise it may not pair properly. The pass key is "0000".

 

Globalsat BTA-809 iPod Wireless Bluetooth Entertainment Pack

The iPOD iWAG in use.

I have been testing the BTA-809 and the BTH-820 for a few weeks now with good results. I have put them into operation whilst cycling, running, just generally hanging out at home, and whilst traveling. The place that I find them most useful though is in the gym.

 

Previously in the gym I had my iPOD in the drinks holder and the cable trailing up to my headphones. The problem with this setup is that I am always snagging the cable. The BTA-809 frees that wired connection and allows me to have the iPOD in my kitbag and just the BTH-820 attached to my shirt. I get freedom of movement and no chance of the iPOD going flying or me strangling myself.

 

The BTH-820 allows you to control a subset of the iPOD functions. Basically you can pause, play, skip forward and skip back. To do this effectively you need to set up playlists on your iPOD and select them before you try to control it using the headset. Once in this mode you can start stop and skip with the headset controls.

Globalsat BTA-809 iPod Wireless Bluetooth Entertainment Pack

Despite not having full remote functionality you still have sufficient control to enjoy music whilst leaving the iPOD in a secure and safe location.

 

Another extremely useful feature of this entertainment pack is that the headset also acts as a handsfree headset for your mobile phone. This is a fully featured headset with the microphone incorporated into the body of the BTH-820. This allows you to use the headset unit with any headphones of your choice. I tend to use my JVC over the ear headphones as they are more secure whilst I am exercising, and also more comfortable than ear buds.

 

When you receive a phone call the iPod is muted while the call is in progress. The Play/Pause button is used to answer the incoming call. When the call finishes the iPod is returned to normal volume. Whilst in the call the iPOD continues playing, it does not get paused.

 

The maximum range of the Bluetooth link between the two devices was about 4 metres. I tried a number of different tests but was unable to get much more distance out of them. When out of range the audio just cuts off and returns when you close the separation. Different things can affect this range including your own body. I found the most functional distance was between 2 and 3 metres which was plenty for all the applications that I put the units through.

 

Battery life was tested at 3.5 hours average for the BTA-809 and in excess of 6 hours for the BTH-820. Both of these were tested using continuous playing of the iPOD. Whilst on the subject of power both the BTA-809 and the iPOD are charged via the USB connector on the BTA-809.

 

So finally what about sound quality? Well this is a direct cable replacement. While I used the system in environments with noisy backgrounds and also in peace and quiet, I was unable to discern and difference in sound quality between the Bluetooth setup and a normal wired connection. The quality of the Bluetooth connection to my Orange M500 was not great, but then that has never been good with bluetooth headsets. The headset connection to the O2 XDA Exec was much better.

Conclusions

The Globalsat Audio devices are a great step forward in wireless technology. They enable a wide range of audio devices to be connected together removing the physical constraints of wires.

 

If you often travel in areas where security is an issue then your valuable phone and iPOD can remain tucked away in your bag. If you do get mugged then the likelyhood is that the thief will only get away with the headset and not your iPOD or phone.

 

Pros

  • No more wires
  • Advanced Bluetooth audio
  • Good headset
  • Replaceable headset
  • Security

Cons

  • Still a short cable
  • Only partial iPOD control

 

References

Manufacturers Website www.globalsat.com.tw
www.globalsat.co.uk
Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Barrett

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

www.Pocketgpsworld.com

   

 

 

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