An innovative and instinctive internet radio from Terratec
Easy to use
LCD screen can be hard to read
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Only using Wi-Fi to surf the net on your laptop while watching TV is like buying a 4x4 then just taking your kids to school and back. In other words, laughable.
So we're in fits of giggles after trying out Terratec's iRadio. The clever placing of 'i' doesn't quite do it justice, because it takes full advantage of a home network that all homes with a Wi-Fi router possess.
The Terratec iRadio plays radio stations from all over the world, often in as good quality as DAB. It can also play recent podcasts and even MP3s and audio from almost any file format stored on any computer using the same Wi-Fi connection.
It also does all of this with the minimum of fuss. We fancied listening to Australia's Triple J station. Easy: just go to countries, choose Oz then scan down an A-Z list. Before you know it you're listening in 128kbps sound quality.
Buzzing around the menus using the remote is instinctive and, whichever station you choose, the iRadio displays a basic logo on the large blue backlit LCD screen.
The iRadio has an online dimension. Instead of fiddling around on the LCD screen and pressing all manner of button combinations, all you need to do is visit www.radio567.com. Enter the serial number on the iRadio's reverse and start searching for stations, podcasts and even TV streams from an exhaustive list, as well as by genre, location or format.
It even lets on the file format and bittrate - for example, BBC Radio 4 is shown as a WMA file streaming at 48kbps. The website then refreshes the iRadio's menus.
Using the software provided for either platform, it's also possible to play your entire iTunes library from a Mac or PC. Working even with a password-protected wireless network, the iRadio is able to show an entire library and play it back in very good sound quality - although it's best to set-up simple playlists in iTunes beforehand.
Sound quality in general is acceptable given its mono speaker although a lot depends on the bittrate of the radio stations/MP3 files. Stream MP3s ripped at 320kbps and few will complain, especially if the iRadio is used in a kitchen or small room.
For the fussy there is a stereo line out for attaching it to separate speakers as well as an output for connecting an additional matching speaker that sells for £40.
Complaints for such a radical device are to muster. The LCD screen, while large, is hard to read from anywhere except close up. The design won't be to everyone's tastes and using it does clog up your bandwidth.
Not all stations tune in because it only recognises the MP3 and WMA audio up to 320kbps. The remote control has a tiny range, but apart from that it's brilliant to use.
Minor gripes aside, this is an innovative product, alright.
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