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REVIEW: GlobalSat Bluetooth Stereo Audio Gateway BTA-809 for iPods
Posted by Arne Hess - on Saturday, 22.04.06 - 16:10:59 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 22250x
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For some days now, I'm using the the GlobalSat Bluetooth Stereo Audio Gateway BTA-809 for iPods (which is called iWAG = iPod Wireless Audio Gateway now) which turns your iPod into a wireless music center. Using Bluetooth, the Audio Gateway transmits crystal clear digital sound to A2DP/AVRC compatible Bluetooth audio receivers up to 10m away. The BTA-809 audio kit consists of a receiver that onnects to your iPod and a Bluetooth headset. It is simple plug-and-go device which supports the standard Bluetooth A2DP and AVRC profiles for consistent and clear stereo sound quality and remote control functionality. It connects directly to your iPod via Dock Connect interface and is compatible with and 3G, 4G, 5G, mini and nano iPod and enables your iPod to transfer the stereo audio signal wirelessly to any A2DP compatible Bluetooth headset, for instance Globalsat's own BTH-820 Bluetooth stereo headset (see me previous review here).

The sales package includes the Stereo Audio Gateway BTA-809, the Bluetooth stereo headset BTH-820, a Y mini USB to USB cable for recharging the audio gateway and the stereo headset and a 110 - 220 Volt charger with USB out jack:

As explained more detailed in my previous BTH-820 review, the main-unit includes the control keys, the microphone to use the headset as a hands free unit for compatible Bluetooth phones and a 3.5mm jack to use the main-unit with any compatible headset:

The iWAG is a small white box with round corners - looks pretty much the same as an iPod and an iPod compatible Dock Connector on the top. On the front it has a blue/red LED which either indicates the pairing mode or working mode. Bellow the LED you have the on/off switch. On the right side of the iWAG you have a mini USB jack which is used to recharge the unit.

The iWAG connects to the Dock Connector jack of any compatible iPod and fits - size-wise - best with 3G and 4G iPods since it is similar thick as the iPod itself. This makes it a nice looking compact combination:

After you've paired the gateway with a compatible headset (and thanks to the A2DP profile this work without any problems) you are ready to listen your music wireless through the Bluetooth A2DP profile. However, you can also control your iPod wirelessly, right from your Bluetooth stereo headset, thanks to the support of the Bluetooth AVRC profile because the iWAG also supports the required Audio Video Remote Control (AVRC) Bluetooth profile and send the commands to the iPod. Thanks to this support, you can jump to the next/previous song in your playlist, pause, stop and play the current track as well as adjusting the volume (which is however not done through the AVRC profile but done on the headset directly).

Another interesting feature is the possibility to connect the headset (if supported by the headset) in parallel to a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone. This means, that you can listen your music from your iPod and as soon as you get a call, the playback is pausing. Right after you've finished the call, the playback continues again. This means you will not miss a call anymore while you are listening your music and because you don't hear your mobile phone ringing and you don't have to carry two headsets anymore but one fits all.
Another interesting way to use the iWAG is to connect it to Bluetooth media hubs like the Motorola Bluetooth Gateway DC800. That gateway works bi-directional and it either sends or receives A2DP Bluetooth streams. If you connect the DC800 to your Hi-Fi equipment at home , you can playback the music from your iPod through your Hi-Fi system wirelessly. Therefore there is no need to place the iPod in the near of your Hi-Fi system anymore but you can find a better location, like your couch or a place near your computer.

Final Conclusion

Many of us might have used FM-transmitters in the past to playback the music in the car. As convenient this FM-transmitter solution is in the car, as convenient is the Bluetooth solution the iWAG provides. Especially now, in the Spring many of us will have a bike-ride again and I was always a little bit annoyed by the cables, hanging around me and connected to my iPod. Now I can pack my iPod in my Timbuk2 bag and enjoy my bicycle ride without any cumbersome cables and even better - I will not miss a call nor I need to carry a second headset to have phone calls. This makes the use of an iPod truly convenient, an opportunity Apple missed so far!
I seriously enjoy the iWAG and can recommend it to all iPod lovers too, especially if you also carry a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone with you also since this combination is just perfect.

The iWAG works up to 7 hours which is enough at all, my iPod isn't working longer anymore and therefore it's good enough. Talking about charging,  as much as I normally appreciate the use of standard USB plugs in this case - for the gateway I would prefer to either have a Dock Connect jack, instead of the USB jack for recharging the gateway's Li-Polymer battery because in this case I could use one single charger for both, the iPod and the gateway or - even better - if the connected gateway could also recharge the iPod. Due to the current combination, you can not use the iPod while charged which is okay as long as you use it on the move but for a home use it would be more convenient to get both units charged simultaneously while you can still use it.

Beside this, I'm just happy with the overall product: it looks nice, it works as expected and it provides some real benefits.

The GlobalSat Bluetooth Stereo Audio Gateway BTA-809 for iPods aka iWAG is available from several online shops around the world with an recommended retail price of US$ 129.99.

Cheers ~ Arne

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