As the iPhone/iPod audio docking systems move into a more mature phase, Creative is hitching its wagon to Bluetooth in its bid to differentiate itself in this crowded category. Bluetooth compatibility allows the wide range of A2DP devices--which includes iPhones, iPads, recent iPod Touch models, most recent smartphones, and many PCs--to stream audio wirelessly to the speaker. On the PC speaker side, Creative has the $150 Inspire S2 Bluetooth system, and now it's bulked up its audio line with several Bluetooth-enabled iPod speaker options, including the D200 reviewed here. It retails for $130.
There really isn't a whole lot to the D200. It's rather compact, measuring 3.9 inches high by 15.9 inches wide by 3.7 inches deep and has a nice heft to it, weighing in at 3.6 pounds. Unlike the wraparound speaker grille of its step-up sibling, the $300 ZiiSound D5, this model only has cloth on the front of the unit, covering the speaker drivers. The speaker shell has a nice, glossy black finish that, as you might expect, is something of a fingerprint magnet (yes you will find yourself polishing this speaker with a cloth from time to time).
From a distance, the speaker looks simple and understated, much like a small center-channel speaker in a home-theater setup. There's an auxiliary minijack input on the back for connecting other audio devices with an optional cable, and the requisite power button. On top of the unit you'll find volume up/down controls, plus a Bluetooth button. When you hold that button down for a few seconds, a blue light flashes indicating the speaker is discoverable and in pairing mode.
As mentioned earlier, if you own a stereo-compatible Bluetooth-enabled phone, PC, iPad, or portable media player (the D200 supports the A2DP and AVRCP profiles), all you have to do is turn your device's Bluetooth on, wait for it to search and find the D200, input the PIN (0000), then hit play on your music; the music will stream wirelessly to the speaker so long as you're within about 30 feet of the D200. You can then use your phone/media player as a remote, controlling what music you want to play from the palm of your hand.
What happens when a call comes in on your phone? The music pauses and when you hang up, it starts again where it left off. Alas, you can't use the D200 as a speakerphone, but that's not the end of the world.