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Sony Ericsson MDC-60, MBR-100 – new music widgets
This February during the presentation of a new range of handsets, among which was the brilliant W880i, names of new Sony Ericsson-branded accessories were mentioned as well – a pair of new headsets, a Bluetooth-transmitter, a cradle and new speakers. As I promised earlier, reviews of all these widgets will be available on our portable in the near term, though the gadgets we have on our table today will be reviewed within one article. We are doing this firstly so as not to delve into unnecessary details (and not to force you to do that) and, secondly, these things are too quaint to be spoken about separately.
Well, let me begin with the music cradle MDC-60. In general it repeats the design of the previous devices of this kind, for example, the CDS-60, if we talk about the design. But the color is totally different – blackness suits the accessory very well. Moreover, when plugging a handset in the cradle violet backlighting flares up in its lower part, right at the place where the Infrared window is located. By the way, should you fit the device in an improper way, the backlighting will not gleam, such thing happened with me several times when I was trying the cradle with the W950i. The accessory’s underside is home to two Fast Port slots – one for connecting mains cord, and the other one for music cable, and USB cable won’t work out (which is a shame). As you probably know the company offers two types of music cables – MMC-60 with two plugs and MMC-70 with 3.5 mm jack; with this cradle either can be used. No matter what somebody would say, these accessories are quite available; it was not a one-time occasion when I came across then in markets, shops and etc.
The cradle comes equipped with a remote control. It is modeled after the company’s trademark style, and is somewhat reminiscent of the remote for Sony Ericsson W950i. The device drains power from a round cell, you may change - to open its section just push the lock. Using this thing you can manage playback (Stop, Play, rewinding and volume control), launch radio (in pair with cradle it works quite well, perhaps the cradle doubles as an antenna). On top of that, you may answer or end a call via the keys with very familiar symbols. Unfortunately, I couldn’t turn on the speakerphone so I had to take the smartphone off the cradle to actually talk. The important detail is that the remote and cradle work even when no cable is linked up, meaning that it is a stand-alone device. What I really loved about it is that to start playback you should only press the key “Play” on the remote, without having to launch the handset’s player manually. At least, it worked for the W950i, I hope this will also hold true for other company’s handsets.
Now let’s imagine how it could be made best use of. Plugging the MDC 60 in a home stereo via the music cable and putting charger into the socket we’ll get charging-plus-music station, which is much likely to be not the first one in your home (for me it is quite so, as there is already a cradle near my notebook, and now I have one more next to the home stereo). Normally, you use it in the following way: put the phone in, press “Play” and enjoy the sound via your stereo’s speakers. The remote’s effective range is limited to 1-2 meters so won’t have an opportunity to lie far away from the device. On the other hand, pressing keys on the handset is even less convenient.
By the way, with the cradle you can charge other types of accessories, for example headsets, as you can see it in the picture, there is nothing wrong with it. I should say a few words about the devices which the MDC-60 can properly work with – a dig at the W880i, which has its socket on a spine. While there is a good chance that you will actually connect it, I doubt it will look great.
Perhaps, that is all I could say about technical side. Now let us try to figure out, who and why would buy the MCD-60. I’m swaying more towards thinking that it would be the most desirable present for an owner of Sony Ericsson’s handset. Buying it for your own self is quite another matter, just come think of think, do you really need this charging dock, which, moreover, costs about 60-70 USD (no word on price yet, it is only my guess). On balance, look into it only in one case – if you are dying to plug your handset in the home stereo and listen to music in such way.
And it is all due to the device being way too exotic and, to some extent, lacking the final touch. Why didn’t the manufacturer tack small speakers onto the cradle and another USB socket? Then it would be been a kind of a do-it-all gadget, which wouldn’t bring any harm standing on your workplace, in the living room during a party or for no particular reason, or placed in the kitchen to let you have all favorite tunes one click away.
On the other hand, I do realize that I’m a spoilt consumer - Sony Ericsson is rejoicing all gadget aficionados like no one else and can afford releasing just about anything. Undoubtedly, it will eventually hit its target audience.
Sony Ericsson MBR-100
The company has already one similar widget in its portfolio - transmitter MMR-60 operating on FM frequency range. As some of you might know, the MMR-60 gets linked up to the handset and transmits songs on a certain frequency from the handset to your home stereo, car stereo and so on. The novelty we about to break down works in a totally different way, sharing only one thing in common with the MMR-60 – being a medium between the headset and your home stereo. This Bluetooth-receiver is plugged into a sound source (car stereo, for example) via audio jack (3,5 mm), than you link up your handset to it and listen to music via speakers. Simple? Aye; to pair them up, you should press and hold the key on the accessory back until you see the indicator twinkling in red and green. With the W950 coupling delivered no problems, nor did anything else – music was beamed properly, the sound quality, as I’d expected, was mediocre. Also I tried to get the MBR-100 in gear in car, my impressions of quality are one line above. One more thing, if someone calls you music gets paused and you should answer the call in the usual manner.
In would seem, what kind of “thingy” is that! But don’t get overwhelmed with these thought just right now, as you can to plug in the MBR-100 custom headphones and get, in fact, a basic Bluetooth stereo headset, though, there will be not way for answering the calls with this. But it is alright, for this purpose you may always use handset. Of course, you will lose control over playback, however it is nothing – you can manage with music using the handset’s keys. Dear readers, what I’m going to tell you next may seem quite strange to you, but I put aside my beloved DS-970, connected V-moda Vibe headphones to the MBR-100 and… enjoyed not only quality but the battery life as well. According to the manufacturer the device lasts about 12 hours in playback mode and about 300 hours in standby. In practice it put up about 5 days with occasional shut-downs for periods of inactivity at 1-2 hours of music every day. Looks good? No, it is excellent!
By the way, I’d like to note that when the MBR-100 is linked up to a home stereo, you may use a Bluetooth-headset – there is nothing wrong with that, probably, profile 2.0 is used.
The device comes included with standard charger for Fast Port, connecting cables: one with 3.5 mm pin, the other one with 3.5mm and 2RCA.
Design-wise, the MBR-100 isn’t altogether bad, its black streamlined casing looks very authentic put next to various gadgets.
The MBR-100 retails for about 65 USD, I strongly recommend it to all owners of handsets equipped with A2DP-profile, mainly in order to use it together with own headphones. In the case of non-Sony Ericsson-branded devices you’d better test the coupling capability before purchase. I repeat, in spite of being incapable of talking and managing playback, you will get a long-lasting gadget for listening to favorite tunes via custom headphones, which will be both cheap and reliable.
We looked only at two novelties among those presented recently but some things are becoming clear now. As far as I see, people responsible for accessories development over at Sony Ericsson don’t know how to use their wits, and owing to that the market has already seen so many out-of-the-ordinary gadgets. Isn’t it the time to take a more adequate path? For example, to create a battery case, music-minded headset with noise reduction, do-it-all cradle which I craved for above? Also I’d like to see a more credible wireless headset, the DS-970 is okay, but it would be better off with a bigger display, longer battery life, ability to skip within tracks, replaceable headphones and so on. I do hope this year company will offer consumers many accessories-related surprises – make no doubt about that.
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