iSkin Cerulean F1
iSkin Cerulean TX+RX
iSkin RX (available alone by the end of the summer)
When you hear “iSkin” I bet you think iPod cases. That’s what I used to think. However, iSkin has now entered the Bluetooth market with 3 accessories under the name Cerulean for your iPod, Bluetooth equipped computer, and/or Bluetooth equipped cell phones.
The products include the Cerulean F1 (Bluetooth Headphones), the Cerulean TX (Bluetooth transmitter that connects to your iPod), and the Cerulean RX (Bluetooth Receiver that connect to speakers or systems with iPod docks). The TX and RX are currently sold as a set (which makes sense), but I have been told the RX will be sold separately by the end of the summer.
I’ll start with the TX and RX. The RX simply connects to the dock of your dock compatible audio system. The TX plugs into the dock connector of your iPod. You hold the two within inches of each other and flashing lights on the units let you know when they are syncing. It is as simple as that. You turn on your audio system and turn on your audio on the iPod and sound comes out of the speakers. It even transmits the sound from video playing through the iPod. It does not transmit video.
Once up and running your iPod becomes a remote control for your audio. All of the features work through the connection: forward, reverse, skip, play, pause, etc. The TX has several nice “bonus” features. First, you can tell the product comes from a company that has specialized in iPod cases. It has a dock extender, so I was able to connect it to my iPod WITHOUT removing the case! I wish more companies would start doing this. Second, it has a mini-usb port (cable included) on its side for connecting your iPod to your computer for syncing and charging.
The RX has an audio jack, also. This worked great in my car. I plugged the RX into my car’s audio jack and my iPod car charger powered the RX. The TX was plugged into my iPod and I was able to control my iPod wirelessly, and without having to reach for it in my center console (this is where my audio jack is making it very inconvenient for controlling the iPod).
Power for both parts of the system comes from the iPod and whatever the RX is connected to. You might ask, “How does this effect the battery of the iPod?” I’ve used the TX on my iPod for hours on end, and have noticed no significant increase in battery drain. Not only is the TX needed to transmit your iPod audio to the RX, it is also needed to transmit audio to the F1 headphones., which are just as easy to setup as the TX/RX pair.
To setup the F1 headphones to work with the TX you turn them on in discoverable mode. As with the RX, lights will flash a certain way within seconds letting you know when a connection is made. You can then transmit audio from your iPod to the headphones. Not only will audio from music, audiobooks, and podcasts transmit, but audio from video and games you might have transmits also.
The headphones themselves have a nice collection of features. First, it has audio controls for adjusting the audio on the iPod. Second, you can skip through tracks, and adjust the volume directly through little buttons on one of the headphones. There is a larger button for pausing and unpausing your iPod, too. Aside from the Pause/Play button, the other buttons are rather small, and take some getting used to. People with larger finger might find it a little difficult.
Power for the headphones is achieved by charging them with the included mini USB cable. Battery life is great. I easily got 8+ hours of listening to my iPod through the headphones. In addition to working with the TX and your iPod, the headphones can also be connected to your Bluetooth enabled computer, and your Bluetooth enabled cell phone (yes, it also has a microphone).
As for comfort, the headphones come with two different ear clip systems. I found the ones that come pre-attached worked for me. The earbuds themselves felt a little tight in my ears. A little too tight for my taste, but this is a personal preference. The main unit also rotates to allow for a more customized fit.
All three parts of the Cerulean system look great. All are black in color, and have a very modern/sleek look to them. The TX and RX are small and thin, and also light as a feather. Even the packaging is nice looking. It is reminds me of the iPod packaging, and it looks great.
Many Bluetooth headphones I have seen are big and bulky, or odd looking. These headphones look great. They remind me of the teardrop shaped cell phone headphones that have become very popular (although they are not teardrop shaped). Like the TX and RX, the headphones are extremely light.
So, I have saved the most important feature for last. How does it all sound? The TX and RX system sound great! I used it through several speaker options and the audio sounded just as good as if the iPod was connected directly to the system.
The audio quality of the F1 headphones varied by what they were connected to. When I connected to my iPod with the TX, the audio sounded great. I was very pleased. However, when connected to my iMac the audio quality dropped considerably. It sounded like a poor set of battery operated speakers. As for connecting to a cell phone, I was unable to try that out.
The range on the system is fantastic. I was able to keep my iPod in my basement and go to the third floor of my house. Once there, I started getting loss of signal, but that is about the thirty three feet range that iSkin states you should get.
Overall, I really like the entire Cerulean system from iSkin. I especially like using the TX and RX with my iPod and turning my iPod into the perfect iPod remote. Throw in the F1 headphones, and it is a great way to privately listen to your iPod with out being attached by a headphone cord.
In addition to the minor issues I mentioned above, my biggest issue with the system is the price. The prices of $129.99 and $149.99, while falling in the range of other Bluetooth accessories, are not on the inexpensive side, especially if you want to use your iPod and the F1 headphones together. I’d like to see the TX sold with the headphones or available separately since it is needed to use the headphones with your iPod.
With that said, if you can afford it and want some nice looking, nice quality Bluetooth accessories for your iPod the iSkin Cerulean system is worth checking out.
MyMac.com Rating: 4 out of 5 (for both products)