While Bluetooth audio is not acceptable for everyone, the convenience of wireless paired with the range and sound quality of this receiver make it a top option for most consumers.
This receiver is incredibly easy to setup and even easier to connect.
An inability to connect to an Android "project" device while connecting to the same device running an outdated operating system was disappointing to a technology hobbyist.
The Bottom Line
While the sound quality produced by the receiver wouldn't cut it for a professional or audiophile setup, it is definitely a device worthy of being in any home's entertainment center.
Where To Get It
One of the well-known issues with Bluetooth audio devices is the fairly low quality sound. In the grand scheme of Bluetooth devices, however, this receiver is fairly average. It doesn't hinder the experience of listening to the streamed audio, but it doesn't enhance it, either. The frequency range carried and transmitted through to this receiver is adequate for everyday home use, but it isn't designed for any sort of professional or audiophile scenarios. Now, this is not to say the receiver is bad, because it is far from it. In fact, we plan to replace an extremely old Bluetooth receiver here in the office with one of these.
The receiver has only one inconvenience in regard to pairing, but it is easily ignored. If the device is currently paired and connected, you cannot long-press the connect button and override the pairing. As most people won't be pairing the device to multiple phones, this will almost never be a problem for anyone other than those of us who test and review hardware.
HTC 8Xt (Windows Phone 8.1)
The phone, even running an experimental version of Windows Phone 8.1, was able to connect to the device immediately. The phone remained connected through an entire episode streamed on Netflix without any signal drops.
Apple iPod Touch 4th Generation (iOS 6.1)
The iPod, despite being a few generations old and running a version of iOS that is a full generation behind, was able to connect immediately. The player remained connected through an entire episode streamed on Netflix without any signal drops.
Microsoft Surface Pro (Windows 8.1 Update)
The tablet, running the most modern version of Windows and sporting current hardware, connected immediately. The tablet remained connected through several episodes streamed on Netflix without any signal drops.
HP TouchPad (webOS 3.0.5)
The tablet, running an older, abandoned operating system, sporting older hardware, connected immediately. The tablet remained connected through an entire album played from internal memory (webOS 3.0 does not have a Netflix application, nor Xbox Music support). The album played without and signal drops.
HP TouchPad (Android 4.3.1)
The tablet, running a fairly modern version of Android on older hardware, was incapable of connecting. Because of a lack of connection, no play time or signal strength was logged. The same tablet, noted above, was capable of connecting and playing without issue. The process of trying to pair the tablet would cause the tablet's Bluetooth hardware to crash and the tablet would need to be rebooted to try again. We did attempt to pair the tablet 6 times without success, always with the same result. With Android's popularity on non-standard devices, it is disappointing that this tablet didn't work.
Amped Wireless claims on the package that this device will give you up to double the range of a standard Bluetooth receiver. Based on our tests, that claim is mostly accurate. While a normal receiver in this price range will cover a room, or several rooms, we were able to leave the building with just under 100ft of range beyond the outside walls. Concrete block, rebar and stucco could not prevent us from getting decent range.
With the ability to transmit from outdoors to indoors, you could conceivably use this to power a multi-room sound system without having to leave your phone behind in a particular room. It could also be great for an indoor/outdoor system, maybe around a pool, with the same lack of restrictions.
This device has very little in the way of controls, which is exactly what you want in a device like this. With a single status LED and a single connect button, it is easy to figure out and easy to use.
A red light indicates idle mode: nothing connected, no pairing in process. A solid blue light indicates paired and connected; a device is capable of streaming to the receiver. A blinking blue light indicates pairing mode; a Bluetooth-capable device can search for and pair to the receiver.
This button does exactly what you expect it to do - it puts the receiver into pairing mode. When the red status light is on, simply press the button, not long-press, and the LED should start to blink blue. Then the receiver is in pairing mode, and it is as easy as going into Bluetooth settings on the transmitting device. The only thing that would make this better would be the ability to force-disconnect a device from the transmitter; possibly through a long-press on the connect button.
The wonderful thing about this receiver is that it doesn't do much, in a great kind of way. Because of its highly-focused capabilities, there is almost no learning curve required. Plug in the included audio and power cables, pair to your phone or tablet and start streaming.