- Created on 18 March 2009
If you spend a lot of time listening to the radio, you have most likely looked at purchasing a DAB radio in order to take advantage of digital radio and the increasing number of channels that broadcast in this format. DAB can have a downside in the UK in the form of low signal strength in some areas and potential low bit rates that can reduce the overall enjoyment. However, another alternative is available in the form of internet radios, which connect to the internet through a home router to provide access to a multitude of streamed radio shows across the world.
Terratec has produced a series of internet radios under their NOXON range and we were lucky enough to be sent the NOXON iRadio for iPod to review. The iRadio for iPod is an upgraded version of the iRadio incorporating an iPod dock allowing greater functionality. The style of the internet radio is much the same as a lot of the DAB radios providing a single speaker on the left side of the case and a simple screen and controls on the right of the fascia. The front of the unit is finished in a black gloss and the casing is covered in a soft feeling black rubber style material which gives the unit a more modern feel.
Setting the system up is very simple, the wireless aerial is discreetly screwed into the back of the unit, and the unit can then be connected to the home router to give access to the internet. A simple wizard is available for network connection, allowing connection to any available wireless network, including those using WEP and WPA encryption. Alternatively if the unit is in close proximity to a network port or the router itself, it can be connected with a standard RJ45 cable. Once connected, internet radio stations are directly accessible through a well designed menu system that breaks them down by geographical areas and music styles (Jazz, Rock etc.). Any relevant podcasts are also available for streaming for channels that release them. In case the internet is unavailable local radio stations are also available through a standard FM receiver built into the system.
The NOXON iRadio for iPod, as already mentioned, comes with an iPod dock in case you can't find something worth listening to online. The dock allows the user to easily navigate through the iPod's folders to access any music quickly and easily using the remote control and unit's basic LCD. The unit also provides a convenient charging point fot the iPod. In addition to the iPod dock, there is a USB port to allow connection of any USB mass storage device to extend the media available, a 3.5 mm audio input for other makes of mp3 player or audio device, a 3.5 mm audio output so that everything can be run through an analogue amplifier and even a digital output for sending an S/PDIF signal out to a home theatre receiver. Since the device is connected to the home network it also has the ability to stream media from any computer sharing it's media files through Windows Media Player. One further feature is the ability to utilise music portals such as Napster, Musicload, classical.com etc., to further extend your media collection or also to take advantage of these services to discover new music (although these services do require a subscription).
The really nice thing about the NOXON iRadio for iPod is that although the menu interface is very basic, it allows for very simple navigation through both internet radio stations and all available media irrelevant of the source. Files or streams can be searched using a text entry system similar to that found on mobile phones or added to a favorites folder using a very simple two button interface. All of the features are readily accessed and this makes usage very simple even for less technically minded music enthusiasts.
At face value the NOXON iRadio for iPod is really a jack of all trades, but in our eyes it has one slight failing and that is the slightly lacklustre playback through its 5 W mono speaker. The playback is slightly lacking in the heavier bass ranges and although this isn't really surprising, some would expect more from what is a relatively expensive piece of audio equipment. This could of course would be irrelevant if the unit was connected through an amplifier or A/V receiver as a component of a larger system or if external headphones were used.
The NOXON iRadio for iPod is certainly an excellent piece of kit and provides a mass of features designed to extend your media around the home, it has a simple menu interface and a wealth of connections that makes all of the features accessible.
Amazon: Terratec E3365 NOXON iRadio -Black