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Sony CMT-U1BT: The Bluetooth alternative to docking

Sony uses the magic of Bluetooth to stream music from phones to its new hi-fi. It's not clear whether little blue pixies are involved in this process

Good old Sony -- its repeated attempts to squash the iPod are both amusing and worthy of respect, if only for persistence. Clearly angry that you can't move without running into something with an iPod dock on it these days, Sony has developed a handy alternative. The CMT-U1BT is a Bluetooth micro system which offers an alternative to all that tedious docking business.

On the surface, the CMT-U1BT is a pretty standard-looking micro hi-fi system except it has a couple of tricks up its metallic sleeve. The most significant of which is the inclusion of Bluetooth audio streaming. This handy technology means if you own a mobile phone with A2DP -- stereo audio streaming over Bluetooth -- you can stream music from it to the hi-fi. Many newer Sony Ericsson phones, such as the W880i, can do this but you'll probably want to check before spending £300 on this hi-fi.

The other good news is you can also stream music from the CMT-U1BT to your Bluetooth headphones. As long as you don't wander more than about 10m away.

You can also hook up a computer via Bluetooth and stream your music collection back to the hi-fi. The good news is that you can use any software you like to organise your music on your computer -- including iTunes. Obviously, the PC will have to be quite close, but laptop users will no doubt enjoy this functionality. You'll also need a compatible Bluetooth dongle though, which Sony will happily flog you.

The CMT-U1BT will also do mundane things like playing audio CDs, if you have any of those. There's a radio, which will do FM and AM, but sadly no DAB, which is something of a missed opportunity. It will also play MP3 and ATRAC files from CD, CD-R and CD-RW. It seems Sony is trying to allow more flexible use of music after its rootkit debacle, thank goodness. -IM