If you enjoy “cutting the cords” and being able to play your music wirelessly, then we’ve got a treat for you. Cignias was kind enough to loan us a review unit of their NAO Symphony Wireless Music Station. One thing to quickly note is that you can still take advantage of a big pricing discount Cignias is running if you want to snap one of these up for a last minute special Christmas gift ;).
I’ve been using the NAO Symphony Noir model for over a week, and I can safely say that I’m sad to send it back. The unit worked great with both my BlackBerry Bold 9700 and my iPhone. You have multiple options for playing music — via Bluetooth, over Wi-Fi, connecting via an auxiliary port, or docking (if you use your iPod/iPhone).
I know, you want to see it in real live use don’t you? That’s really the only way you’ll be able to appreciate how good the NAO Symphony sounds. Well then, let’s jump right in and put it to the test to see if it belongs on your own gadget wishlist.
First things first, the unit is compact and the styling is minimalist. The NAO Symphony Wireless Musitc Station consists of the wireless speaker itself, a remote control and a power supply. So what makes this different from other speakers? First, the NAO Symphony will play your music over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Straight away I paired my BlackBerry Bold 9700 to the NAO to play music. While you won’t mistake being in a concert hall, the sound from the NAO Symphony was very impressive. The product features a 40-watt, 4″ performance speaker system.
After one week of use, I can see how well this product would fit the needs of anyone wanting a speaker system at the office, college dorm, apartment, or just about anywhere. I set it up in my kitchen and enjoyed streaming music while fixing dinner — or just relaxing on the couch. Here’s a video capturing the NAO’s performance when paired with my BlackBerry:
Here’s a video capturing how well the NAO worked with the BlackBerry:
The LED on the NAO will let you know what “mode” you are using with your device:
- Green lets you know you have it in Wi-Fi mode to stream your music over a wireless network.
- A Bltue LED indicates you are in Bluetooth mode (which was my preferred way of using the NAO with my BlackBerry).
- If the LED was set to Yellow, you could dock your iPod/iPhone in the NAO Symphony and then — wait for it — control it from your BlackBerry. I know, there probably aren’t too many folks out there who would be salivating over this specific feature, but it is nice if you have an iPod and want to quickly move through playlists without having to get up and walk across the room. Note: you will have to download the free MusicNao app for your iPhone/iPod touch or BlackBerry.
Even if you don’t want to use another smartphone for this feature, you can easily use the included remote for managing basic controls (volume, mute, play, pause, etc).
- The Purple LED will show when you are in “auxillary mode” and then you will be able to plug in any audio source you choose.
I really enjoy the fact that the NAO brings even more functionality to your smartphones. While the iPhone/iPod touch certainly have a wide array of accessories, docs, and music stations built specifically for their use, I am happy to see a product come out that can stream music from other devices — like BlackBerry — and integrate it for entertainment. I tend to stream Pandora in my car using my BlackBerry, and I really enjoyed being able to do the same at home using the NAO Symphony. I believe more products will eventually come out that help integrate any smartphone you choose into your home entertainment needs — and I’m happy that Cignias is taking a lead in that respect.
Something to think about if considering the NAO Symphony is that the unit is upgradeable. Cignias will provide free updates to customers to continually enhance their systems. Since I’m not sure how this process would work in practice, I would speculate you would have to be notified by email as an existing Cignia’s customer and then download the update over Wi-Fi.
The price may be the only initial drawback that would keep me from impulse buying the NAO Symphony Noir (the unit tested) regularly retails for $299 — c. The “regular” NAO Symphony, the one without the custom black grill, is typically $229 but is also on sale. That model can now be ). That said, I enjoyed using the NAO Symphony very much and knowing that as I upgrade smartphones I can continue using it is a very big advantage. If you’ve been looking for a way to further enjoy the music collection (or streaming radio options like Pandora or Slacker) from your BlackBerry or iPod/iPhone, this is a product you will definitely want to consider.
What I Liked: Ability to stream music from BlackBerry, iPhone or iPod over your Wi-Fi network or using Bluetooth. You can use the auxillary port to connect to a variety of audio sources. Minimalist styling and upgradeable firmware helps make the unit “future-proof” and, one would imagine, compatible with more devices down the road.
What Needs Improvement: Pricing is a bit high. I would like to see the current sale price become the permanent pricing for the NAO Symphony and NAO Symphony Noir Wireless Music Stations.