Nokia MD 310 Reviewed
It was at Nokia World 2010 when we first saw the Nokia MD 310 wireless receivers and this little thing from Nokia was quite an unexpected accessory. A year on, a lot many manufacturers and accessory makers are offering a similar product.
At this year’s Nokia World, all of us bloggers had the opportunity to have a closed door session with Andrew Cresswell, Head for Product Partnerships for Nokia Gear, Smart Devices and Markus Ahonen, Head of Connected Entertainment Products – Nokia Gear. At this session which lasted a good hour we got to understand a lot about Nokia Gears, accessories market and how Nokia approaches them along with an informal presentation of the new Purity line of headsets that Nokia will be releasing in conjunction with the Lumia devices.
As a return gift, the two of them gifted each one of us a Nokia MD-310, a sweet gesture indeed. It wouldn’t be until I landed back in India and connected it to my home theatre unit, that appreciation for the gift would hit me. After all it was just another cool gadget in a box till then. I’ve been enjoying the Nokia MD-310 with my home theatre for a fair bit of time and I must say that it’s made my old HT new and modern again, I can haz Bluetooth streaming on my 7 year old HT system!
But this is a review, and I’m going to switch back to the reviewer cap. Here’s an honest assessment of the Nokia MD-310 unit.
A few disclaimers, I’m not audiophile nor is this going to be technical dissection of the performance of the unit from a sound technician’s perspective. This is however a review that will highlight the product, its strengths and weaknesses. It will assist you in deciding to purchase it or not.
The Nokia MD-310 is a compact little gadget to have. In terms of design it’s very much a Nokia design. The materials used, the finish and the look very much coincides with the new design approach taken at Nokia. The gloss from the good quality plastics used along with the lighting effects, all of it scream Nokia.
This is not a bad thing mind you. The subtle light hints and the minimalist design is indeed something to show off. The little circular disc will absolutely be at home in a condominium next to the custom music system you put up on your own or the humble system you bought off the shelf from a store.
Available in black, it lends a lot of class and will definitely look like a show piece of the 21st century. Oh! alright it’s available in white as well. The top features just one round switch bang in the center along with a thin ring of light which serves as an indicator of the various stages (standby, visible for pairing, paired) of the unit. Along with that there’s a little text embossed on the front near the tip, it reads ‘nfc’. Yes this little gadget is nfc enabled, making pairing a task of just tapping to connect.
When the device is connected to a compatible Bluetooth enabled device and is streaming music, you will see more lights in the bottom cavity that light up. It gives a nice soft light and makes the thing looks even more pretty.
The MD-310 comes with standard 3.5mm out jack and another accessory which splits that to the RCA jacks (red and white ring) which you can connect into a compatible system and enjoy. This makes the MD-310 an extremely flexible device to have, so you can connect only the speakers or the entire music system with it.
A 0.8m cable with the RCA jacks is pretty long for use in a variety of places don’t you think.
When it comes to looks, the device will not look out of place, nor will it disappoint in terms of connectivity.
Now the moment we think Bluetooth, we think inbuilt battery. Well, the MD-310 does not have any inbuilt battery and instead relies on a Nokia supplied charger (in the box) to supply it with power. Is that a good thing or bad, one cannot really say. In terms of an extra set of wires, it is a bad thing. But on the other hand if this thing were to last for a few hours and need recharging again it would defeat the purpose of you connecting it to your system and the disconnecting and connecting… arrgh it’s too much to even write!
Pairing as I said is very easy, once plugged in and connected to a power source, simply press the button at the center until it starts blinking. Then simply pair it with a PC or your phone or any other PMP that has Bluetooth support. Once paired, you know the drill!
Now reconnecting to the MD-310 is pretty easy as it remember a fair bit of devices. All you need to do is simply switch the Bluetooth of your phone when the MD-310 is in standby mode (white light on top) and it ‘s connected.
As for the music output, I had connected my MD-310 to a Sony Home Theatre system which is 5 speaker unit that supports Dolby II and has an out put in excess of 5000 watts. In short is loud and can deliver a good thump when needed.
Now when you stream music over Bluetooth, you never expect that it will be good enough, don’t you. Well, on the MD-310 it was spectacular. The output was from all five speakers and now two as you’d expect or imagine.
if you have a good quality file and the device through which you are streaming is a good music player (read good output and dedicated music chip, yada, yada) then the quality of music is bound to be a treat to your ears.
I tried the MD-310 with three different devices running three distinct platforms, the N8, the Samsung GT-I9100 and the Lumia 800. Of all the three, the N8 seemed good, the GT-I9100 seemed the loudest, however the Lumia 800 seemed the most balanced of the lot, delivering a richer experience overall.
Needless to say the output via the MD-310 did impress.The box said CD quality sound, and boy it didn’t disappoint!
Another thing we expect from Bluetooth is that it will work from a distance. Well a 100m is a reasonably good distance don’t you think. Now before you jump for joy, there are caveats to this. If there are too many objects between the phone and the MD-310 you will see some disturbances and even disconnections. This isn’t a problem with the unit. This is how Bluetooth works. In an open environment the MD-310 will be able receive signals from a device that is up to a 100 metres away from it.
How well it works in your chosen place is dependent only on the way the room is designed and where you have placed the unit. I could get it to work in a ‘L’ shaped room, with the unit placed in one end. There was a bit of disturbance initially, but it evened out quickly.
Bottomline – The device works very well and is definitely an extension to have for your music system. For NFC and Bluetooth to come to your music system, it’s going to take a lot of time.
Here’s a quick video review of the Nokia MD-310 in action.
The only downside to this little gadget is that it doesn’t have video out. I do hope that Nokia makes one which allows for video to be streamed. The MD-310 is available in Europe and in other geographies as well. In India, it isn’t available and you’ll have to order it from outside. It’s fairly inexpensive and for what it offers, seems like value for money.
Let me know what you think of the MD-310, is there a feature that it is lacking? MAy be you want another colour… Drop in a comment down below!