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.:. oozle.net > Gadgets for the home > Logik IR100 Internet Radio
Logik IR100 Internet Radio
Posted: January 16th, 2008
Logik IR100 Internet Radio I'll come clean at the start. I think the Logik IR100 Internet Radio is one of the best gadgets I've seen in a long time. Well designed, well built, and very very usable, it's one of those gadgets that makes you think "I should get another one of these". It really is that good.

The IR100 looks like and (largely) operates like a normal radio, except instead of an aerial, this radio has built-in WiFi to connect into your wireless broadband network. Once connected (which is plug-and-play if you have no security enabled on your WiFi, and a simple matter of entering your access details if you have security enabled), it allows you to listen to any one of the thousands of stations around the world. As an example, in Ireland we connected to 55 stations, we could pick up 501 from the U.K. and several thousand from the U.S. Whenever you turn it on it updates its list of radio stations from a central website, so you can always connect to the latest stations available online.

The IR100 streams both Real Player and Windows Media formats, and also supports "On-Demand" streaming as offered by many stations - for instance Logik IR100 Internet Radio BBC Radio 4. This is a bit like a podcast where you can request a previously broadcast programme to be replayed, as the name suggests, on demand. The quality of the playback is dependent primarily on the rate at which the radio station streams. So for instance RTE stream at 32kbps, which would be at the lower end in terms of quality, but perfectly acceptable for everyday listening. Many UK stations stream at 128kbps, which is equivalent to MP3 quality, while a select few stations stream at 192kbps which is CD quality. Even with a 32kbps stream though, it is worth remembering that there is no possibility of interference on the signal so the quality is still very good.

Playback is through a speaker on the front of the unit, or through a headphone jack on the back. You could connect external speakers to the headphone jack if you wished, but its not necessary as the volume is perfectly good from the main speaker. Audiophiles might complain about the single speaker, but given the limiting factor in the sound quality really is the bit rate that the radio station streams at, if you're that fussy about the sound quality, you shouldn't be listening to internet radio.

A back-lit LCD display shows what station you are playing, and is also used to display the menu, which is iPod-like in its operation. A large "tuning" knob is used to scroll up and down the menu, and you push to select. You can browse stations in this way by country or by genre, and the radio handles the large number of stations by breaking the browsing down into different sections - for example:

Browse by Country -> Europe -> Ireland -> RTE Radio 1

While this is very usable, there is also the ability to store 6 presets, using 6 of the buttons on the front of the unit. The radio also makes an attempt to support file streaming from a PC but its not worth mentioning as it requires you to set up playlists on your PC and detracts from the fact that this is an internet radio as opposed to a music streaming device.

The genius of the IR100 is that Logik appear to have put usability first in their design and it really does operate like any other radio. This makes it an option for techies and non-techies alike and it could easily replace any standard clock radio in the bedroom or the kitchen. If one improvement could be made, it would be to allow it to take batteries as well as mains power, but perhaps with a WiFi connection and radio playback battery life would be too short to make Logik IR100 Internet Radio this feasible. Of course you should remember that you'll need a reliable broadband connection to make use of this. Our tests over a 1Mbps Esat BT connection and a 1Mbps wireless connection showed no real problems, though obviously if the broadband connection drops, the radio stops also. You'll also need a wireless network wherever you are choosing to use the radio.

When you first connect to a station it buffers up for a few seconds to help keep a continuous playback stream, and this means that stations playback 10 - 20 seconds behind their "live" FM counterparts, so you're unlikely to win any phone in competitions!

All in all, a brilliant piece of kit, wonderfully made, easily operated, and one that could well find a place in any home. If you have broadband, a wireless network, and you like listening to radio, seriously consider getting the Logik IR100.

Available from Currys for EUR150.




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