RCA Jet Stream with Kleer: The Review

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The RCA Jet Stream is a basic DAP intended for use while exercising. To that merit, it includes a pedometer and a BMI measurement utility of debatable accuracy (I’m just big-boned). As a standalone unit it is, rather vanilla.

Perhaps sensing this conundrum, RCA opted to include Kleer wireless headphones, the same technology that I gushed about at CES this year, proclaiming it my “best in show” product (a proclamation that bears little-to-no consequence, but there it is). So let’s look at this thing in two parts, the device and the headphones.

First up is the device, since it is, after all, RCA’s baby. I feel half-pleased with it. The 1GB DAP includes a pair of corded headphones for convenience and it comes loaded with a handful of media, including some mp3s and audiobooks (holy crap, The Da Vinci Code).

It’s a nice showing. Hell, it’s almost great — but then it falls from grace. There is zero mac-compatibility. If you hook it up to a Mac, you’ll see a file index like all is well and it’ll even let you transfer files over to the device. The transaction was exciting for about 10 seconds — drag-and-drop media devices are by far the best scenario I can imagine and this is almost one.

Unfortunately, once you disconnect and attempt to play, you’ll then notice that the device shows no media present. So working from a Mac will essentially corrupt the file structure of the Jet-Stream which is a major booooo. So if you’re interested, you’re going to need a PC until they figure out some work around.

On a PC, however, drag-and-drop is an option. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can use Yahoo! Jukebox or Windows Media Player 10 (included on the install disc). This isn’t a terrible decision, judging from the demographic the device is aimed at. Subscription download services like Yahoo! and Napster (in WMP), are a popular choice for those unwary of DRM — namely those interested in a $129 DAP.

The other major issue is the speed of the device. It’s slow; really slow. I don’t know if it’s the memory or the processor or their combined sucking, but the interface is clunky as a result. But even with those strikes, I’m remain generally pleased with the device. At roughly the size of a lighter, it’s tiny and perfect for all those feats of athleticism that you’ll probably never be doing since you are, after all, reading CrunchGear.

Now to Kleer. As I said back in Jan., this is the wireless audio technology that everyone has been waiting for. It broadcasts in a lossless 16-bit, 44.1KHz format that sounds perfect. What I hadn’t noticed before was the distance one could get from the player. Standing at least 15-feet from the tiny Jet Stream, the audio still hit me with perfect clarity. Moving further makes it stutter, but something with greater signal strength could feasibly project for a greater radius.
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Like the Jet Stream though, there are some problems. The Kleer buds require a separate USB charging adapter, so charging the Jet Stream and the headphones at the same time will consume two ports. Fortunately, these particular buds are tethered to one-another, allowing them to share one receiver, which means they achieve an admirable battery life.

I also experience problems when attempting to fit the buds into my ears. They’re huge and there are no size adapters, only two giant ear clips to use in-case you don’t get a snug fit — and seeing as that I have huge ears, I doubt many people will achieve acceptable ear penetration without a display of masochism.

The overall verdict though, while not optimum, is not exactly a negative one. Putting this device in perspective, I believe it could be a potential success. Its realistic price, coupled with a sample of a soon to be major technology makes this a decent little stocking stuffer for the PC-loving parent or harem.

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