Sunday, May 14, 2006

Short Take: Motorola DC800

The Motorola DC800 Bluetooth Home Stereo Adapter may be the perfect accessory to bring the Bluetooth wireless world to your stereo system. The DC800 allows the streaming of music using the Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) bi-directionally. A compliant Bluetooth enabled music player can stream music through the stereo system and the stereo system can stream music to a set of compliant Bluetooth enabled headphones. But in the real world, how does it perform? Let's do a Short Take and see how well it works!

The Motorola DC800 Bluetooth Home Stereo Adapter is designed to extend a stereo system's functionality by providing inbound and outbound wireless audio capability using the Bluetooth standard. The unit can be placed vertically (Figure 1) or horizontally. The front panel contains a small power switch and a large "M" button used to initiate pairing with Bluetooth A2DP compliant devices.

Unfortunately the inbound audio functionality has a major weakness. The pairing sequence requires a pass key. Therefore, it appears that in order to pair any audio device with the DC800, the device has to include a keyboard or other mechanism to enter this pass key. Without this ability, it seems impossible to pair an inbound device. Motorola seems to have designed this for Bluetooth enabled PCs, cell phones and PDAs which are A2DP compliant. The GlobalSat iWAG (BTA-809), attached to the iPod, we reviewed here did not pair successfully with the DC800
At first glance the Motorola DC800 seems like the perfect device to Bluetooth enable your stereo system. However with today's skyrocketing sales of Apple iPod's, it is inconceivable that Motorola would have designed such a perfect device without taking into account the ability to pair with iPod accessories.

I contacted Motorola support and they explained the pairing process. Unfortunately they were unable to help any further since they had no experience with the iPod together with a GlobalSat BTA-809. The DC800 has two pairing modes: the first, when the Motorola DC800 powers up, allows compatible devices to initiate pairing with it. This discoverable mode requires the entry of a pass key on the device requesting the pairing. This is fine for cell phones, PDAs and PCs, but the iPod does not have a means of entering the pass key. The second mode allows the DC800 to initiate the pairing sequence via discovery. This mode does not require a pass key. I placed the Motorola DC800 in discovery mode and the GlobalSat BTA-809 in pairing mode (there is only one mode). They failed to pair.

The Motorola HT820 and GlobalSat BTA-809 pairing was successful. This leads me to believe that there is an issue with pairing inbound devices with the DC800. The inability to use this function diminishes the value of the DC800 greatly. Despite the excellent quality of the outbound audio with the HT820 headphones, I can only recommend a slightly above average rating for this product. Should Motorola resolve the inbound device pairing issue it would receive a 5 out 5.

Review by: Stephen Skarlatos,

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