TuneLink Home

Author: Sven Rafferty
October 18th, 2012
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Pros

  • Auto-pairing function, no codes needed
  • Amazingly powerful IR Blaster
  • Long range Bluetooth up to 100 feet
  • TOSLink Compatible
  • Massive Remote Control database

Cons

  • Bit pricey

The Bottom Line
There is no better way to get audio off of your iOS device and into your sound system wirelessly than using tuneLinkhome. Apple’s propitary AirPlay doesn’t give you the flexibility that New Potato Technologies offers with the tuneLinkhome. Ignore AirPlay and grab a tuneLinkhome now.

Ratings

Overall:

Features:

Ease of Use:

Design:

Bluetooth Reception:

Sound Quality:

Price:

Recommended
Yes

Full Review
Wireless is the new way to connect. It’s becoming the way to connect, in fact, with all of our smartphones, tablets, and portable music players. So many manufacturers attempt to bridge our devices to those large pieces of equipment sitting in an entertainment system, on a shelf, or even on the nightstand. Sadly, most use adapters that are either exclusive to the manufacture or must be licensed thus limiting the options. Thankfully, New Potato Technologies tripped over a decade old standard out in the tatter patch named after an old Viking called Bluetooth.


At first glance, the TuneLink Home looks to be nothing more than a Bluetooth-to-Receiver adapter with a cool LED ring. But that impression is quickly removed when you turn the unit around to reveal its goodies on the backside. There is the expected power input (USB-mini), 1/8″ stereo line-out, and even a line-in. But one quickly smiles when they notice the IR output for either extending to another room or to help with a hard to hit piece of equipment. The smile broadens when you see the little glow behind the trap door for the TOSLink fiber optic digital audio output. Sure, one can argue Bluetooth isn’t going to deliver the best sound from a compressed MP3 or AAC anyway, but, it’s an option none the same that keeps it digital until your receiver has it. It’s a freakin’ cool option.

But turn the unit back around after connecting your cables and you’ll find something way more cool than the blue LED ring circling the face of the TuneLink Home. See, behind that black cover is an IR BLASTER which consists of four 3 mm IR LEDs that light up pretty much anything in the room. No direct facing or line-of-site configuring. Heck, do what I did and put the TuneLink Home on top of of your AV receiver and find the proper device code in the astounding 80,000 remote code database and start controlling your receiver from another room. Wirelessly, of course. The $400 wireless dated LCD remote that came with my Denon AVR-5801 can now be officially laid to rest as I will never even consider it for anything other than a piece in my tech museum. Thank you, New Potato! Like most universal remotes, you can create custom buttons, program codes, and select among a variety of themes and skins.

Pairing your device couldn’t be any easier than saying, “What am I going to play from my music library first?” Simply open your Bluetooth settings page, tap TuneLink Home and within a few seconds you’re paired. But not so fast, cowboy, don’t open the Music app just yet because you just got a pop-up on your screen asking if you’d like to download the free TuneLink Home app. Man, how did the iPhone know about that? Sa-weet! After the download and install, you are walked through a nice tutorial in how to use the app. The applications main purpose is for the universal remote; however, it is also used to update the firmware right from your phone. I know, how cool is this?! You can also configure the sharing mode between Off (keep it private), Free (openly links to other Bluetooth devices), Ask (you have to approve all requests for pairing), or TuneLink (automatically add other devices.)

One of the features I like about the app is its ability to automatically play your content upon connection to the TuneLink Home. In fact, you can make everything automatic down to the Bluetooth connection when entering your home. Don’t worry if you are not one to have music playing upon entering your home like some scene from Space Odyssey 2001, you can disable any or all of the automatic features.

I’ve already made mention of Bluetooth’s sonic prowess or really lack of it but I tell you, listening to my music or a movie streaming on my Netflix app sounded great pumping from my Altec Lansing speakers pushed by my Denon. I walked around the living room and never experienced a drop or fade out. The claimed one-hudred feet reception though can be a subjective number. I found using my iPhone 5 with Bluetooth 4.0 to get very good reception while in my living room. The TuneLink Home was in my office network and AV rack in the office on the other side of my living room wall. Once I walked to my master bedroom on the other side of the living room, things became choppy. If I held my phone up and moved more slowly away from the office/living room wall, the TuneLink Home held the signal. In fact, I was able to make it all the way into the bathroom without any drops. I’m sure if the TuneLink Home wasn’t surrounded by audio and networking equipment, hampered by various walls, and in an open point of view, the claimed 100 feet distance would be true. Truth is, Bluetooth is only rated up to 30 feet which I was bettering without any issues so this was pretty impressive to say the least.

Now, let me be sure you fully understand the overall awesomeness of the TuneLink Home. This isn’t just for playing music from your iPhone or iPad or other portable music player. No, as I already eluded to, you can shove the audio from Netflix, Hulu, or any other video player on your iDevice. That includes videos that you recorded from your Camera app as well. Essentially, with the TuneLink Home, you will hear everything from your iOS device on your audio system. The TuneLink Home hooks up to any piece of hardware that has a line-in (AUX). So, don’t be bogged down just by thinking it has to go into a receiver or amp. You can put it into a boom box, freeing your iPhone from being tethered, or to your nightstand radio allowing you to still browse web sites or read your email in bed. Granted, AirPlay can do the same thing but there isn’t an AirPlay adapter forcing you into purchasing a new clock radio, dock, or AV receiver. TuneLink Home gives the ability to use your current stuff without too much discomfort in the pocket book.

So, let’s wrap it up with the price. This certainly is a stellar device and you are technically getting two products in one with the Bluetooth and the universal remote blaster. However, $100 is a bit on the high side for my taste. For me, I would only grab this if I had disposable cash or really needed to get my audio into my amplifier. Heck, for a mere $200 more, you can purchase a Denon AVR-300 series that has built-in AirPlay and have a very nice amp on top of it. Sure, you lose the flexibility of the TuneLink Home, but I’m just making light of how it is a third of the cost of an audio receiver which has a lot more going on in the inside.

You know, if you can find the tuneLinkhome for $70 or less, I would say snap it up. Amazon carries it for $90 and that’s still just too much for comfort. Maybe $80 would be a good price point. Truth is, there really is no better way to get audio from your iOS device into your speakers – no matter what they are connected to – than using a TuneLink Home. It is a well made product, looks awesome, has a vast amount of audio options, and is one freaking cool IR BLASTER. Perfection would be a better price point but even at a $100, the TuneLink Home is one amazing piece of technology. New potato technology.

Price: $99.99

Platform: Bluetooth and iOS 4.1 (or higher)

Website: Product Webpage


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