Summer is one of my favorite times of year. And one of my favorite things to do is take long walks or hang out at the beach while listening to good tunes on my MP3 player.
However, I also like to take walks or hang out at the beach with friends. And unless I want to cut myself off from my friends, that means no MP3 player or shared tunes, unless I want to make like Radio Raheem with the super-loud boom box.
But now I have another option. I can broadcast the tunes from my MP3 player (or any audio device with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack) and my friends can listen to the same tunes on their own headphones.
The i2i Stream, from Aerielle Technologies, is a small device that uses old-school wireless technology to let users broadcast an audio stream up to 30 feet.
To use the i2i Stream I plugged one i2i Stream device into my personal MP3 player and then plugged headphones into another i2i Stream device. I then selected the channel I would broadcast on. The i2i Stream supports seven channels that are all color-coded with the main button on the device glowing the channel color. So, for example, I could choose the green channel and tell my friends to tune to that channel.
Once I was ready I hit the top broadcast button on the device connected to the MP3 player and the lower receive button on the device connected to the headphones. From there I was able to listen remotely to the songs being played on the MP3 player and could walk around so long as I didn't get too far, put too many walls between me and the player, or use a microwave.
I found the i2i Stream to be easy to use and pretty useful in some ways. I could see it being great for the beach (much better than being tethered to a friend via a splitter cable) or in buses or trains where you and a friend aren't sitting together (the i2i Stream most likely isn't airplane-friendly).
However, it does have some drawbacks. The product comes with cables and lanyards for hanging around your neck or hooking to your belt, but it still comes in at about twice the size of the iPod Shuffle I hooked it up to. Also, the i2i Stream hooked up to the sending device uses a special cable with a 3.5 jack on one end and a minijack on the end that plugs into the i2i, which would have to be replaced if lost.
Probably the biggest drawback is that you need multiple i2i Stream devices to get the full value. The i2i Stream two-pack that I tested is priced at $119.95 and additional devices are $59.95.
My guess is that unless this really takes off I won't have lots of friends with i2i Streams to send to. Actually, based on my tests, the main use for the i2i Stream might be as wireless headphones, useful when watching movies or playing games while family or roommates are sleeping.
To get more info on the i2i Stream go to www.i2igear.com.