We just got our fingerprints all over the strangely enticing RCA Jet Stream: a sporty, rubber edged MP3 player with a pair of wireless headphones that sound surprisingly pristine.
The Jet Stream player itself is much like the RCA Jet now on sale: it's got 1GB memory, a tiny color screen capable of video as well as music, 15-hour battery life, Napster and Rhapsody compatibility, and both arm and wrist bands for different workout preferences. At $139, though, the cute blue Jet Stream is twice the price of a standard Jet, thanks to its earphones.
They are not Bluetooth, and as such, they don't suffer from the digital compression and latency issues that Bluetooth often exhibits. Pairing was instantaneous and automatic, happening when both the player and headphones are powered up. You can control the volume from the headphones, and there's also a Play/Pause button, though for track advance, you'll have to touch the player itself.
When you use the headphones as intended, they are clear beyond reproach. The tracks I listened to sounded fantastic, especially for a low-end MP3 player, let alone one using RF wireless headphones. They are super lightweight, which has not been the case with Bluetooth headphones I've tested, and come with optional ear clips, as you can see in the gallery. When I pulled up a video to watch, it was fairly compressed on the tiny screen, thanks to proprietary software you need to load video, but I didn't notice any lip-sync trouble, a challenge for wireless systems.
The battery life of the headset itself is 10 hours, pretty good, but not as good as the player. The bummer is that they recharge separately, both requiring its own USB jack for power up. (You might want to invest in one of those wall-socket USB plugs.) The advertised range is 20 feet, but RCA says that it's not supposed to be used at any distance: it's there to keep you from getting tangled in the wires.
Speaking of wires, you need to use the included wired headphones for FM radio, as the wire itself acts as the FM antenna.
The Jet Stream is available for pre-order today on Amazon, and will appear at Wal-Mart in the next two to three weeks.