BlackBerry Music Gateway Review

Sometimes you come across a device that just astounds you. It promises something that would actually be amazing and it states it will do it with the minimum of fuss. When you get hold of it and it actually does it, too, that’s when you become a firm believer. That’s what the BlackBerry Music Gateway device did to us.

A small, black, rectangular device, it allows you to pair any bluetooth or NFC enabled smartphone or tablet and output music through your speakers of choice, be that your Hi-Fi in the lounge, home theatre amplifier and surround sound system or car stereo. All you need on the output device is a 3.5mm jack to allow the gateway device to be physically connected to it..

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The unit itself is 60mm x 37.5mm x 11mm and as such is barely perceptible in terms of footprint, nor in terms of weight. It’s glossy black plastic around the sides and matt on the top and bottom. It has a 3.5mm jack input, a micro-USB port for the power adapter (provided) and, well, that’s it. Aside from the Blackberry logo on the top which cunningly when depressed begins any bluetooth search and pair operation.

We specifically call out bluetooth pairing this way as the headline method of connectivity is NFC (near field communication). By simply tapping your NFC enabled smartphone on top of the gateway device you can have a magical two-way communication nigh on immediately. In our experience both methods were incredibly simple and foolproof, something which in itself can’t be said of most folk’s experience with bluetooth, say. Incredibly simple and very quick. Both methods worked fine with a Samsung Galaxy SIII and a BlackBerry Bold 9900. There are many more devices listed at the BlackBerry site but pretty much anything NFC or bluetooth enabled should find and pair with this brilliant black box.

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Actual streaming of music using Spotify (with our Android device) and the stock music players on both the SIII and Bold 9900 (playing pre-loaded MP3s) was rock solid even up to about ten or fifteen metres away and the quality was very high as far as our ears could tell, with no loss of fidelity compared to other methods of playing the same bit rate of streaming media, or exact same digital files. We were unable to test it out in the car due to a lack of input but there’s no reason why this wouldn’t work where available.

The Gateway device is priced at only £39.99 in the UK and is available direct from the BlackBerry store. Considering it works fantastically well - without fail during our tests - and provides such versatility in terms of with what and where it can be used, this is a great solution for folks who have a lot of their music collection in digital and portable format and don’t want to pay the outlay needed for Sonos or similar devices. Frankly it’s not necessary when something as capable and smashingly well executed as this loveable box of tricks comes along.
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