Nao Symphony by Cignias is a speaker system that wirelessly interacts with your BlackBerry over Bluetooth or WiFi. The Nao Symphony system also has an iPod dock, so you can wirelessly control music on your iPod, from your BlackBerry, and play it all through the Nao Symphony speakers. This is the first time I have seen a speaker solution that comes with full support for BlackBerry, and isn’t just an iPod dock that is also compatible for BlackBerry.
Setting up the speaker system is relatively easy and if you follow the instructions line for line, you should have it set up in about 2-3 minutes. There are several options for connecting your BlackBerry and the Nao Symphony, but the WiFi feature is the best. You can also connect by Bluetooth and Auxiliary (stereo jack in the back).
Setting up the stereo system over WiFi involves downloading the MusicNao application and following the steps to configure your network. Once configured, you can play music from the MusicNao application on your Nao Symphony speakers.
This is where I think the Symphony Nao system could do with some work. The MusicNao application is very basic in that you can only play the songs you have on your device. It allows for playlists, artists and has the same functionality as the native BlackBerry music player. The application could do with a few more features. For example, I rarely play music from my own SD card these days and Slacker takes care of my music needs. It would be great if I weren’t tied to the MusicNao app, but rather I could play third party app music as well. This would include support for 7Digital, Nobex Radio Companion, iHeartRadio etc. When talking to Cignias, they said that the MusicNao application is in early stages, and they have some big plans for it including a social component. Since more than one user can connect to the Nao Symphony system, there is potential for anyone to play their music. Of course, it would have to have a karaoke-style queuing system, so nobody is kicked off mid-song.
While running the MusicNao application and playing music over WiFi, your data services are fully available. In fact, you have total access to your BlackBerry from surfing the web, to reading/writing/sending emails and even making calls. The Symphony Nao system won’t be interrupted and can play your playlist in the background.
The PodNAO application allows an iPod owner to dock their iPod and remotely control it with their BlackBerry. This is interesting because while I haven’t seen any concrete data on the number of BlackBerry users who own iPods, I suspect it’s significant. This also boosts the amount of music at your disposal.
In terms of pure hardware, I’m really impressed by the Symphony Nao speakers. The sound quality is really good, and the volume levels are loud enough to play in large spaces. The system is small enough that it doesn’t take up too much space, but it’s large enough that it would make sense to have in your living room.
Overall, I would say this is a good purchase, assuming the software side of things picks up on features because BlackBerry users shouldn’t be tied down to a single music app.
Thinking about the software, I had a few features I would like to see, but I’m not positive they could be implemented:
- Equalizer options built into the application.
- A cover-flow style UI.
- Being able to see other devices connected to the Symphony Nao network.
- See other peoples’ songs.
- Integrate with BBM to chat with other Symphony Nao connected users.
- Offer some other means of discovering and playing music rather than what is only on my device.
The Nao Symphony costs $299 USD and the software is free on BlackBerry App World.