ATECH provides an amazing lightweight Bluetooth Receiver but with limited battery life.
New technologies provide me with both excitement and woe, personally referred to as “woeful excitement.” I love to learn about new gadgets, new gear, and new devices. However, like Woody had to make room for Buzz in the Toy Story movies, we often have to make room for our new devices. This can mean that many of our still-functional older tech items get placed into the no-longer-playing with-it-pile. Some of this tech has been with us for a long time and may have even started to feel like a relative/friend. Stitch said it best: “Ohana means family. Family means, nobody is left behind or forgotten.” What if there was a device that could man-up the older tech? Luckily, there are devices like the ATECH Bluetooth Wireless Receiver to do just that.
The ATECH Wireless Receiver is one of those devices that you may not realize you needed until you held it. The rather plain 4 7/8 inches wide by 4 3/8 inches tall by 1 inches thick brown cardboard box was adorned with a single 7 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide wrap-around black sticker. The sticker beautifully provided the title in contrasting white and then provided an attractive image of a rectangular three button device with 3.5mm port. Above the image, the company crossed out the grey “IT’S WHAT YOU WANT” and in bold white font listed “IT’S WHAT YOU NEED.” The ATBR001-BLK device is listed as a Wireless Receiver, but the packaging provides no additional information about the device. This was a little confusing as the internal description and online description refer to it as a Bluetooth Receiver. As noted above, without opening the box and seeing what this device was meant to do, you likely would not pay the packaging a second notice. Inside the box, you will find a 4 3/8 inches wide by 4 1/4 inches tall black foam pad, with a 1 11/16 inches tall by 13/16 inches wide cutout. Oddly, this cutout was centered vertically but not centered horizontally ( 1 5/8 inches left and 1 7/8 inches right). I am aware that this sounds pretentious, but it was visually odd. Within the cutout, I found the 8-gram ATECH Bluetooth Receiver.
Upon first impression, the device was tiny, lightweight and incredibly portable. I thought that there was no way for this little device to empower my old 3.5mm tech to become Bluetooth friendly and wireless. So, I turned to and devoured the information within the well-written instruction manual to learn more. The four-panel manual detailed the 1 year (+6 months bonus) warranty, information about how to charge, how to pair, and how to control the Bluetooth receiver as well as the specifications: Bluetooth 4.1, HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP protocols, 33-foot wireless range, 3.7V 60mAh battery, 140 hour standby time, 4-5 hour talk/music time, 1.5 hours charging time and allows a range of 20Hz to 20kHz. The three-button remote was visually attractive with the three 1/4 inch diameter concave buttons and the white “+”, “o”, “-” icons printed on the side. The top of the Bluetooth receiver had a single 3.5mm port, and the back of the receiver had a lapel clip measuring 2 1/8 inches long by 3/16 inches wide. Once you remove the device, do not throw away the box, as you will miss out on the eight inch long 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable, the 4-panel instruction manual and the eight inch long USB-A to 3.5mm cable. I initially loved that the company used the same 3.5mm port for charging as well as earphone connection. That was until I realized that we had to keep up with yet another type of cable. Despite this, I felt that the sleek product design was appreciated. I do wonder, however, if it would have been cheaper to provide a USB-A dongle with 3.5 mm input, instead of the secondary 3.5 mm to USB-A cable?
To charge the device, plug the 3.5mm audio cable into the audio jack and the USB-A end into a computer USB port or a USB wall adapter. Out of the box, there was no way to know how much power the device had remaining. I plugged the receiver into my laptop device and waited over an hour, and the red LED (between the “-” and “o” buttons) never extinguished. After charging for two hours, the light changed to blue, and I was ready to play. Pairing was incredibly easy. When fully charged, I held the central “o” concave button for 3 seconds, and the LED alternatingly flashed red and blue. I then navigated to Settings, to Bluetooth and chose ATBR001 from the list. I wish that I could rename devices within the Bluetooth list, as the ATBR001 name will be forgotten in time. Unfortunately, many of our devices utilize Bluetooth connection, and I find myself deleting items from the list and adding them back as I need/use them. For those of you who are more tech inclined than myself, a manner to rename devices would be ingenious (Hello Apple?). The button combinations were just as straightforward as the pairing process. Short press the “+” or “-” buttons to increase/decrease the volume and press the center button to play/pause/answer a call/end a call. If you long press the “+” or the “-” buttons, you will navigate to the previous and next tracks respectively. I did not like this combination as it was not intuitive. Personally, I think of “+” as advancing and “-” as retracting/subtracting, and it felt as if the combination was reversed. With a good understanding of the button combination/layout and utility of the device, it was time to test them with my 1More Quad Driver Earphones.
To use the Bluetooth Receiver, simply plug the 3.5mm jack from your device into the Bluetooth Receiver and Voilà. I was pleased with the sound, the fullness and the overall feel of the device. Using audiocheck.net, I found the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz) and the High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz) passed markedly well. Strong bass was present at 20Hz, and I was able to hear up to about 15kHz (upper range of hearing for many young adults). The Left/Right Stereo Audio Test maintained Left/Right/Center, as well. With the tech testing complete, I turned to music. I started with a few of my test tracks but quickly changed to fun music. I started with Holly Cole “Train Song,” which sounded great. The deep bass reminded me of why I liked the 1More Quad Driver Earphones. I listened to “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack, my son wanted to listen to “Lost Boys” by Ruth B, and my middle son wanted to listen to “My Lighthouse” from Rend Collective. The sound was great, but there were some issues. First, I did not like the flashing blue LED every 6 seconds. Second, I found that the pairing range was severely restricted by any line of sight obstruction. Simply putting my phone into a hip holster or my pocket caused distortion and made running/jogging, trampoline jumping difficult. Luckily, this was not present every time but was present often enough to warrant notice. Third, I want the “+” icon to take me to the next “up” track and not previous. As noted above, this may be the layout as you are moving up (backward) or down (forward) on a track. Fourth, the device battery is incredibly too short for this type of a device. I did not mind 2-hour charging, but I would expect more than 3-4 hours of use. If you expect to use this for gym time, remember to charge it regularly because it will not likely last you a full week. Fifth, the charging cable is simply weird. You cannot charge and play at the same time. Also, if you misplace the 3.5mm to USB-A cable, you will be at least temporarily out-of-luck (Walmart/Amazon). We all have micro-USB cables lying around, and some may feel it would have been easy to add a micro-USB port (or USB-C). Personally, I would have included a 3.5mm-USB-A adaptor that connected to the end. Sixth, the in-line controller for your earphones does not work, and you will have to use the buttons on the controller, which were more responsive than I would have thought. Seventh, there is no voice activation. If you double press the central button, it will redial the last number called but will not activate Siri.
The Bluetooth receiver is an amazing idea/piece of tech but needs some work to be completely worth the purchase. The website currently has them on sale for $29.99, which is worth the price. For the listed $49.99, I think that there are cheaper devices on Amazon that will do the same thing. The aluminum shell, the 8-gram weight, and the overall feel separate this from the other devices that I have seen. Since my iPhone X no longer has a 3.5mm port, this tech helped to breathe life back into one of my favorite earphone companies, 1More. The Apple 3.5mm to Lightning adaptor was a reasonable attempt, but that device has its issues as well. For example, many in-line controllers do not work with the dongle. However, unless you want a Bluetooth experience, you can purchase the 3.5mm to Lightning adaptor (comes with your phone) for $9 from Apple to listen to music. As noted, the weight was perfect, the aluminum body was amazing and perhaps the best on the market. For packaging, I give the company a grade of C, for the quality of the product I would give them an A+, and for device function a B. The sound from the 1More Quad Drivers was exceptional but the connection, the flashing blue LED, and the short battery life could use some work. Overall, I liked that I was able to pair the device with my iPhone X, sans 3.5mm port, and was able to enjoy the earphones. The device was functional, solved a problem and did it better than I expected. Now, I want it do more and to be better. Perhaps the generation two device will solve some of these features?