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BlackBerry Music Gateway review: BlackBerry Music Gateway

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MSRP: $49.99

The Good The RIM BlackBerry Music Gateway offers a simple and affordable way to push smartphone audio to older home entertainment products. Setting up the device is a snap and even easier with an NFC-enabled BlackBerry. It's also compatible with other Bluetooth phones and tablets.

The Bad Streaming video to the Music Gateway is not an option. NFC compatibility with non-RIM handsets isn't guaranteed.

The Bottom Line RIM's BlackBerry Music Gateway makes it dead simple to enjoy smartphone audio in the living room.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

Pushing audio content, whether it's music, podcasts, or Internet radio, from mobile phones to devices in the living room has never been easy. This is especially true if you're saddled with old audiovisual equipment that lacks Bluetooth or even HDMI ports. Research In Motion has created an elegant solution to the problem in its $49.99 BlackBerry Music Gateway.

This compact gizmo serves one simple purpose but does it well. It connects to legacy home theater gear and streams audio wirelessly from not only BlackBerrys but practically any product with a Bluetooth radio.

Tiny and lightweight, the miniscule BlackBerry Music Gateway is crafted to be inconspicuous. The black, rectangular device gives no outward clue of its purpose or capabilities. Only the recessed Pairing button sporting a BlackBerry logo indicates this is a RIM product. Measuring just 0.4 inch tall by 2.4 inches wide by 1.5 inches deep and barely tipping the scales at 0.8 ounce, the Music Gateway is dwarfed by standard-size home entertainment gear such as Blu-ray players, AV receivers, and cable boxes.

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On the back of the BlackBerry Music Gateway are a 3.5mm audio jack and Micro-USB port. Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from the Pairing button, a minute LED on front along with a 3.5mm audio jack and Micro-USB charging port (placed on back) are the Music Gateway's sole connections, indicators, and controls. The gadget's top and bottom surfaces are coated in a soft-touch material that lends it a quality feel.

True to its name, the BlackBerry Music Gateway is primarily built to do one thing: stream audio from BlackBerry devices wirelessly to your home entertainment system. Thankfully the product accomplishes this using universal Bluetooth (version 1) technology, enabling it to link to virtually any Bluetooth-equipped smartphone, be it an Android, iOS, or BlackBerry.

The idea here is to unleash the music, podcasts, Internet radio, and other audio content living on your handset and enjoy it using a set of non-Bluetooth speakers, an iPod dock, an AV receiver, or even a car stereo you already own. Since the Music Gateway lacks a display, you need to use your phone's screen to control all media playback.

One trick I wish the Music Gateway could pull off, however, is transmitting audio via Bluetooth from a corded device to another wireless product. That way, I could conceivably transform any piece of living-room hardware into hands-free tech and listen to tunes or TV sound over a set of cordless headphones.

Additionally, you can't use the Music Gateway to make phone calls since it lacks an internal microphone. That's a function you do get from modern wireless speakers such as the Jawbone Big Jambox.

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