Tired of dealing with your portable music player's headphone or ear bud cords? Bluetooth will set you free. You just need to add the right gear. Cell phones have featured Bluetooth for some time. The short-range wireless system is used on the ubiquitous headsets. But now, some gadgets can stream music wirelessly - in stereo.
For example, you can stream music from an MP3 player to headphones. Both the player and headphones must be Bluetooth-enabled. Bluetooth has a 33-foot range.
Not all Bluetooth gadgets are created equal.
When looking at Bluetooth, you're bound to run into some acronyms. Look for A2DP and AVRCP.
A2DP stands for Advanced Audio Distribution Profile. It is required for stereo audio. Increasingly, new cell phones and other gadgets support A2DP. However, older gadgets may not support it.
Vista and Mac OS X Leopard also support A2DP. It can be added to older systems with a USB dongle.
AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) adds remote control functions to Bluetooth gadgets. For example, you can control music via headphones.
To find out if your gadgets can stream audio in stereo, check the manufacturer's Web site.
Many manufacturers make wireless Bluetooth headphones. If you like larger headphones, consider Logitech's FreePulse Wireless Headphones ($100). A behind-the-neck band connects the earpieces. The headphones have volume controls.
Logitech includes a wireless receiver. It plugs into an iPod's dock connector. You can connect it to other players via the headphone jack.
Motorola's MOTOROKR S9 ($130) ear buds are smaller than the Logitech headphones. The earpieces fit inside your ear. The S9 has built-in touch-sensitive controls.
The S9 works with Bluetooth cell phones and doubles as a cell phone headset. You'll need to buy a Bluetooth adapter for music players.
Want a traditional wireless headset in addition to wireless headphones? Jabra's BT8010 ($150) is a convertible Bluetooth headset with built-in controls.
A second earpiece connects via a cable for stereo listening. You need to purchase an adapter for non-Bluetooth gadgets.
You don't need to buy a new music player or cell phone to get Bluetooth. You'll find Bluetooth adapters that work with many different gadgets. Adapters for the iPod are most common.
iSkin sells the Cerulean TX RX ($150). The TX attaches to an iPod or computer. The RX snaps to your iPod dock. You control the music remotely.
Belkin's TuneStage 2 ($150) includes a Bluetooth adapter for your iPod. A wireless receiver connects to any stereo via RCA or minijack cables.
You control the music from your iPod.
Some iPod docks also include Bluetooth adapters. Dock your iPod and listen to it with Bluetooth headphones. iLuv and iSymphony make Bluetooth-enabled docks starting at $130.
Jabra, Anycom and Sony make Bluetooth adapters for iPods. Or add Bluetooth to phones and other players. Jabra and IOGEAR make adapters that connect via the earphone jack.
Expect to pay about $50.
Numerous companies make USB Bluetooth dongles for your computer. Prices start around $20. Before buying, make sure the dongle supports A2DP.
Expect to see more products that stream music with Bluetooth. For example Pioneer and Sony make car stereos that support A2DP. At about $400, these stereos are pricey.