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Updated: February 1, 2012 20:25 IST

Nokia Play 360°: Time to unplug

Ketaki Bhojnagarwala
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Nokia Play 360 Speakers. Photo: R. Ravindran
The Hindu Nokia Play 360 Speakers. Photo: R. Ravindran

Although the Nokia Play 360° was first shown to reviewers a few months ago, it has only recently debuted in the market. Initially launched to complement the N9's NFC capabilities, this NFC speaker resurfaces with Nokia's recent Symbian Belle devices. To test the speaker, I used a Nokia 700 which is part of the company's Belle entourage.

The Play 360° is meant to be a simple, no-fuss travelling speaker. Weighing in at just 514g, it's very light and can fit easily into most handbags. Available in Black, Grey and Blue colour options, the speaker is fitted with aluminium casing. The rear sports a 3.5mm jack along with the micro USB port (for charging) and a power button. The front has two chrome plated volume buttons on top and the bottom has a Bluetooth key as well as a battery status indicator. On the top you'll notice subtle embossing where the NFC tag is. Pairing the speaker via NFC was very easy. If you're using a non-NFC device to play music, you can pair it via Bluetooth by long-pressing the Bluetooth key to activate pairing. Once the device pairs the Bluetooth button glows a cool blue, indicating that your devices are connected. The great thing about the Play 360° is that it has a rechargeable Li-ion battery which offers up to 21 hours of playback time. There's also a power saving mode where the speaker becomes inactive after being idle for an hour.

The speaker features a 2.5-inch Peerless full range driver with maximum output of 75dB. If using a single speaker, you get only mono sound, although Nokia calls it ‘360 degrees omni-directional sound'. You can also attach a second speaker for stereo sound. If you pair dual speakers to your NFC or Bluetooth device, the effect instantly switches to stereo.

Volume output was pretty loud in a quiet room but it's not really something I would use for a party. That said, stereo sound would create a much more impressive effect. I played ‘Imma Be' by the Black Eyed Peas to test bass and found that bass levels were quite low. Voice clarity was great when I listened to vocal heavy tracks like Coldplay's ‘Green Eyes'. There wasn't any major distortion when I pumped up the volume to max.

On the HTC Rhyme, I was able to stream music via Bluetooth while multitasking but I couldn't do the same with the Nokia 700, so I guess this differs from device to device.

Overall, the Play 360° is a very handy device if you're looking for portable sound. The addition of a 3.5mm audio jack makes it pretty flexible too. The sound is average bordering on good, but then again it's not meant to be a replacement for your audio system.

Love: Easy to connect, good battery life

Hate: Low bass levels, mono sound with a single speaker

Rs 9,350

For more reviews, visit http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/smartbuy/

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