RadioNet: Internet Radios Make the Perfect Gift
     

The Revo Pico RS Credit: Revo
OTTAWA — Internet radio receivers have come a long way from the days of the 3Com Kerbango, and other early iterations that never quite hit the mark. With the approach of the holidays this is a perfect occasion for Radionet to recommend some worthwhile Internet radios for gift giving — or receiving. Here are four that came to our attention.

REVO’S PICO RS PORTABLE WI-FI RADIO
The US$249.99 Revo Pico RS is the successor to the company’s groundbreaking Pico Internet radio. Both feature a “loudspeaker”-style case that includes all of the radio’s operating technology, LCD display and user interface. The RS improves on the original Pico by adding a new front panel design, greatly extended battery life — up to 12 hours per charge on the Pico’s lithium-ion battery — “and new slicker, faster operation,” according to the website. Like other popular Internet radios, the Pico RS can access thousands of Web-based audio streams, plus over-the-air FM broadcasts. It can also input audio from MP3 players and access audio stored on computers connected to the same network.

What makes the Pico RS interesting is that it is portable, as long as you are within range of an accessible Wi-Fi network. This means that this Internet radio can be used outdoors around the house, in the garage, or anywhere else that Wi-Fi is close by, but a Web-connected computer and power source is not. This Internet radio is even splashproof — but don’t go leaving it in the rain!

GRACE DIGITAL’S MICRO SYSTEM WI-FI STEREO SHELF SYSTEM
The traditional “shelf stereo system” consists of an audio amplifier/radio/player combined with a pair of small bookshelf speakers. Grace Digital takes this idea into the Internet radio age with its Micro System Wi-Fi Stereo Shelf System.

Grace Digital Micro System Credit: Grace Digital
For US$249.99, the Micro System comes with a Grace Digital Internet radio receiver/16 watt RMS (50 W peak) Grace Digital Class D amplifier, plus two standalone speakers with 3.5-inch (88.9 millimeter) mains and 1-inch (25.4 millimeter) tweeters. The Internet radio receiver has a four-line backlit display that shows station, song, title and artist information. Audio can also be accessed by plugging an iPod or other MP3 device into this system’s USB connector. Equipped with clock radio functions, the Micro System comes with a full function remote control with 10 station presets and Pandora music service up/down/skip buttons. You can also operate the Micro System using Grace Digital’s iPhone Touch remote control app. Details found here.

ROBERTS’ RETRO PORTABLE — THE REVIVAL iSTREAM
Roberts Radio has been an established radio manufacturer in the United Kingdom since 1932. In the Roberts Revival iStream, the company has bridged the gap between retro 1950s portable radio styling and 21st century Internet radio functionality.

Robert’s Revival iStream Credit: Roberts Radio
On the outside, the Revival iStream is all-retro with its soft fabric casing and handle strap, big speaker grille and chrome accents. But a look at this portable’s top panel reveals a four-line LCD display nestled between its control knobs and buttons, capable of controlling the iStream’s modern Internet radio innards.

With this interface, the Revival iStream can browse Internet radio stations, access a free 30-day trial to last.fm’s audio library, stream audio from other devices on the same Wi-Fi network, and access audio from MP3 players using the iStream’s stereo line-in socket.

This radio can even be remotely-controlled using Robert’s new ConnectR app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Add over-the-air FM and DAB broadcasts, 30 station presets and full clock radio functions, and the Roberts Reveal iStream is a lot of new tricks packed into an old-style boy. Powered by four old-fashioned D cells or its AC adaptor, the iStream sells for £200 (about US$320) here.

TIVOLI AUDIO’S CAPPELLINI NETWORKS RADIO WITH FM
Tivoli Audio’s Cappellini NetWorks Radio with FM Credit: Tivoli Audio
Tivoli Audio truly set the standard for simple-to-operate radios with astounding audio quality years ago, with the introduction of its “Model One” AM/FM radio receiver. Since that time, Tivoli has gained similar traction in the Internet radio sphere with its “NetWorks” model, which is built into a small speaker cabinet, followed by its “NetWorks with FM” unit that delivers stereo via two speakers, and yes, does receive FM as well as Internet radio stations.

Of course, no one can afford to rest on their laurels, which is why Tivoli Audio recently partnered with Giulio Cappellini, a top Italian high-end furniture designer, to create the “Cappellini NetWorks with FM” designer radio series. Available in China Blue, Acid Green, or Chestnut Brown, these receivers are the acme of clean-lined modernism married to top-end Internet radio technology. “Each radio in this designer collection features a seven-layer high-gloss lacquered finish ... with a silver Cappellini-embossed speaker grille,” says the website.

At US$699.99, this Internet radio is not inexpensive, but then again, neither is a Ferrari.

James Careless reports on the industry for Radio World from Ottawa, Canada.

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Comment List:

I recommend the Sangean WFR-28. It's easy to set up and connect to your home WiFi, and also has FM. It is portable with battery operation and internal speaker, but you can also plug it into AC and connect a line output to your home stereo system. It comes with a large list of stations pre-loaded, but you can also add additional stations through a personal web site. Sells for about $125.
By John Schneider on 11/26/2013

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