Moto Stream Is A Great Bluetooth Streamer But Not Much Else
Recently Motorola came out with a new device to complement their lineup of devices and accessories called Moto Stream, which was immediately heralded as the “Nexus Q” of audio. A lot of what we have heard so far has been without anyone having gotten their hands on the device and actually taken it for a spin. What Motorola tells us is all well and good, but nothing really beats a true hands-on with a device to tell us whether it’s worth the price and if it works as well as Motorola will have us believe. A few weeks ago, the Moto Stream was on sale for 50% off ($25 + tax) so I decided it wouldn’t be too much of a loss to take it for a spin, so without further ado, this is the Moto Stream.
What’s In The Box?
- Moto Stream Unit
- Micro-USB cable and A/C adapter
- User’s Manual
- Stereo RCA audio to 3.5mm audio cable (for plugging into a home amplifier)
Moto Stream Basic Function
After I got the Moto Stream in the mail, I quickly pulled it out of the box and admired its design – it’s a very attractive device. When it’s turned off, you can’t even tell that it has five LED color panels on it, they look just as solid as the rest of the panels. When it’s turned on and not connected to any devices, it will turn all of the panels on the front to white, indicating that you are free to connect. Once you connect a device, it will assign that device a color. When a device is active, it will turn all of the panels to its assigned colors, indicating that you’re ready to play music from that device.
You can connect to the Moto Stream in one of two ways, you can either put the Moto Stream into pairing mode when you turn it on by holding down on the power button until it alternates colors and then just pair like you would any Bluetooth accessory in the Bluetooth menu on your phone/tablet. The second way is actually much easier if you have a phone that is NFC enabled, which is nearly any modern Android or Windows phone. Simply tap your phone to the top LED panel on the phone as you can see in the above graphic and your phone will prompt you asking if you would like to make a Bluetooth connection.
At that point, the world is your oyster. You can play music or audio from any application on your device that is capable of making sound, as is the standard for Bluetooth audio. I prefer to play music from my Google Play unlimited music subscription, because I can play whatever I want, but if you prefer Spotify, Pandora, Beats Audio, Songza, or anything else, then those will work for you as well!
Moto Stream’s Heist Mode
The big seller for this device, at least for me, was the fact that you can have up to five devices connected to the Moto Stream simultaneously and everyone could “heist” the music stream at their will and make the device play their music instead. This would make throwing a party a breeze, giving everyone who lives at the house the ability to insert their music taste into the stream. It is just as well for hanging out in the rec room, for the same reason.
With all of that being said, it is a lot better in theory than it is in practice. From my experience when I connected 2 devices (both running 4.4.3+) and started playing music from one, things seemed great until I unlocked the other device. As soon as I unlocked the device that wasn’t playing music the music was stopped and nothing would play until I either navigated to the music app on the new device and picked something or I went back to the first device and hit play again, making it the active device again. This is an obvious shortcoming for anyone that wanted to be able to queue some music but also wanted to use their phone or tablet when they weren’t the person currently playing music. I’ve attempted to reach out to Motorola multiple times and through multiple channels to figure out if this is a bug specific to my unit or if it’s just bad design but they haven’t made any attempt to answer me.
Update: According to one of our readers, turning off all of the system sounds such as the locking/unlocking sounds will prevent the Moto Stream from switching inactive devices to active devices just because they’re being used. It’s a valid and understandable solution, but a very unfortunate work-around. I guess that’s something that will be difficult to work around if that’s just how Android (and possibly other platforms) handle all sounds, treating them all as media. Thanks, Lee!
Despite the fact that Heist Mode doesn’t really work in a desired way (at least from my perspective) this is still a great Bluetooth streaming device for your sound system that didn’t come with Bluetooth. Since the Moto Stream is in the same price range as competing devices and is far more attractive than any of its competitors and still allows for connecting up to five devices simultaneously, it’s a fantastic little device, even for the full price tag of $50.
If Motorola were to release a universal companion app for Moto Stream (universal meaning on all of the major platforms) allowing users to queue things in a more organized fashion, and improve the overall user experience of the device, that would make it a real game changer.