Creative is quite adept, most of the time, in delivering better than just decent audio solutions. Be it PC speakers, earphones/headphones, PMPs or DAPs and even portable speakers, Creative has dabbled in quite a few media fronts and managed to stay high enough on the list to be noticed. One of their newer products to make it out into the Indian market is the Creative D80 Bluetooth enabled speaker. Here’s a closer look.
Keeping in tow with the previous model i.e. the D100, the Creative D80 is almost just as compact and light weight. It weighs in at 1.06kg, which is just a little heavier than the previous model. It isn’t exactly a bulky device but it’s not something you could tote around in your pocket either. The simplistic design is what I found most attractive about it. The color options it’s available in include a bright Pink, Blue and Green grill with a white body and an all black version which is, by far, the neatest of the lot.
Just like the D100, the D80 also features a small control panel front and center between the two speakers. The control panel has a standard 3.5mm socket that can be used as a Line In for hooking the D8 up to an MP3 Player or mobile handset that doesn’t support Bluetooth. Of course it’s also quite handy if you wish to save a bit of energy by using a wired connection as opposed to Bluetooth. A set of volume keys are next followed by a large button with the Bluetooth symbol. The button has a cool florescent backlight to indicate that the power is on.
Unfortunately it's not completely wireless
At the rear is an AC In connector (cable provided) with a power switch. That unfortunately translates to no battery power which is, once again, a set back for this particular type of product. That lack of a battery pack for a device that’s dubbed ‘wireless’ tends to stand out although the company is actually referring to wireless audio streaming and not wire-free portability. Nevertheless, a built in battery or at least the option of using AA or any other type of battery would have been a real deal sealer.
Features and Performance
Hooking up your Bluetooth enabled device is child’s play. Simply keep the Bluetooth button pressed till you hear a double beep and the light starts flashing. The flashing light indicates that the device is ready to be connected to a compatible device. Switch on Bluetooth on your handset or other device, do a quick scan and add and pair Creative D80. That’s it. There’s no password or any other kind of security that would inhibit your connecting to the speaker. Once a device is connected the flashing light will be reduced to once every 2 seconds meaning you’re good to go.
Easily connects to all A2DP enabled devices
The D80 support Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and is fully compatible with any A2DP enabled device from mobile handsets to media players or your laptop/Netbook that supports the profile. To hook this up to an iPhone or iPod Touch (older editions that don’t support A2DP) or a PC via Bluetooth you’ll need to purchase an adapter for the same. Creative sells their BT-D1 USB adapter for PCs and their BT-D5 iOS device adapter separately. A cheaper option would be to simply buy an EP-EP cable i.e. a cable with a 3.5mm jack on either side and connect your iOS device via cable through the Aux In port.
I was quite impressed with the overall sound quality that the D80 was dishing out in our test center. I tested this on a variety of devices including the iPad 2, iPhone 4, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and a few mp3 players as well as via cable and Bluetooth. The quality varied just slightly from device to device and at the end of my tests, I was left quite satisfied with overall tone quality.
The Creative D80’s two 3-inch full range drivers are quite capable of providing you with quite a full and well rounded set of tones. Higher and mid range levels were just a little sharp but if your device is equipped with EQ settings that’s an easy fix. Bass levels were deep with quite a thump that will have you tapping your feet to whatever tune you’re listening to. The D80 was quite able to handle devices with volumes peaked without much distortion at all. A slight scratch here and there was evident but not enough to complain about.
The 10 meter radius that Creative claims the D80 supports for signal strength was spot on and then some. In an open space with no obstacles in your way, a high end mobile phone won’t waver from providing decent signals even at a distance of 13.5 meters. After that it’s not going to be too great and you’ll find the stream getting disrupted quite often.
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 2,700, the Creative D80 may not be the party speaker you were hoping for but it’s not a bad option for an average sized room or even outdoors at a picnic. Naturally you’ll only be able to place it a 1 meter away from a wall socket thanks to the short wire and lack of a battery feature. Other than battery issues, the D80 works out to be a pretty great product and affordability is its key USP.