Saitek’s A-250 Wireless 2.1 Speaker is like a roadside accident. You know you should look away, but you can’t stop staring. Maybe it’s the colors. Maybe it’s the allure of wireless audio. Or maybe it’s the uncanny resemblance to Admiral Ackbar, architect of the Rebel Alliance victory in the Battle of Endor.
Whatever the reason, there are better ways to get your portable-speaker fix: any MP3 player and Cambridge SoundWorks’ delicious PlayDock MP3, for instance. Sure, it’s not the same as streaming music from your PC, but you accomplish much the same goal.
But, let’s get back to the A-250. The speaker communicates with media-player software on your PC via a Bluetooth transceiver. Just plug the transceiver into a USB port, turn on the speaker, and wait five to 10 seconds for the two to sync. Launch your favorite media player, push Play on the speaker, and music pours out.
The A-250, however, is finicky about the software it will play with. It shunned Windows Media Player 10 and Rhapsody. iTunes streamed only if we initiated playback on the PC, but the speaker’s Play/Pause and Track-forward and -back buttons did nothing. We finally achieved success with Creative’s MediaSource and Yahoo’s MusicMatch Jukebox.
But the music that emerged from the A-250’s drivers (two one-inch aluminum cones and one three-inch, down-firing subwoofer) was marred by whiney highs, ill-defined bass, and the near absence of stereo imaging: Think $40 boombox.
And unlike other Bluetooth devices we’ve tested, you can’t direct Windows’ event sounds to your local speakers—everything gets streamed to the A-250. So move along, there’s nothing to see here.
Month Reviewed: August 2006