The world of Internet radio is pretty much old hat for the home theater guru. Once a cryptic format that required a home theater PC and buckets of software to funnel into a speaker system, the raging river of content has been tamed over the years with a number of powerful devices that allow users to tap the flow in a more civilized way – sans computer.
The trouble is, most of these devices were intended for high-end home theater systems, meaning user-friendly interfaces and price were not exactly priorities. If Joe Consumer from Illinois wanted access to 6,000 channels say, from bed, well, he had better be prepared to shell out, and maybe be prepared to build a mini system around his nightstand.
A company called Revo is attempting to bring an Internet radio appliance to the everyman with an array of low-cost devices, among them the Blik Wi-Fi radio. Like its high-end cousins, it offers wireless access to thousands of free, subscription-less Internet radio stations, but in a standalone box with its with its own speaker and an array of other functions.
Image Courtesy of Revo
The unit has a low-key profile, shaped like a trapezoid with rounded-off edges. From the front, a monochrome LCD interface gives basic information about stations, while it’s controlled via a grid-like array of buttons on top. Next to the controls, an unusual dashed pattern grille hides the radio’s three-inch speaker. If this all sounds somewhat like a clock radio, that’s because it is: In addition to displaying the time, the Blik also offers alarms and a snooze function.
The radio’s Wi-Fi capability should allow it to link up with virtually any existing 802.11b/g home network, including those with WEP, WPA1 or PSK encryption. Once connected, it links up with the Reciva Internet Radio Gateway, which serves as a sort of directory for online radio streams. Using the gateway gives users a more organized way to browse through the baffling array of stations out there. For instance, they can browse alphabetically, by genre, or country of origin. Currently, the service offers access to 6,000 stations, but the list is ever-expanding, since stations can be added through Reciva’s Web site. Streams in WMA, Real Media and MP3 format are all compatible.
Given the technology already packed inside to make it deliver wireless Internet radio, the Revo engineers managed to slip other tricks up the Blik’s sleeve to make it more multifunctional. For one, it can play media files off a computer on the same Wi-Fi network, as well as play traditional radio with its FM tuner, and music off an iPod via its M-port. And if the built-in speaker isn’t cutting it for you, it can also deliver tunes to headphones or a larger stereo system.
Priced at £99.95 ($205 USD), the Blik would be considered expensive for a clock radio, but is actually rather inexpensive compared to devices that deliver all the same features. For the music aficionado who wants to tune in without plugging in (or breaking the bank), the Blik would be a wise choice to consider.