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RAIN 11/29: RAIN reviews Apple's wireless music system AirPlay

Posted on: 11/29/2010

AIRPLAY IS AN EASY, RELIABLE SYSTEM FOR MULTI-ROOM WIRELESS NET RADIO

Apple’s recent update for iOS devices (iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads) brought with it AirPlay — a wireless feature for sending video and audio content to special receivers via Wi-Fi. The new system supports Internet radio apps, so RAIN took AirPlay for a spin over the holiday weekend.

I went into AirPlay pessimistically. I knew I was asking my iPod Touch to stream music through Wi-Fi, then send it back out through Wi-Fi to my AirPort Express (a device which has hardly been reliable when streaming music from iTunes). I expected lots of playback hiccups while straining my home’s wireless network.

But I was wrong. I experienced no hiccups or glitches streaming Pandora, Slacker, AccuRadio and a few other Net radio apps wirelessly to my home theater system. Sound quality was surprisingly excellent too. AirPlay was a dead-easy and hassle-free listening experience.

The best feature about AirPlay, though, is that it uses gadgets I already bought for other purposes. My AirPort Express can share my printer with networked computers, while my iPod Touch serves at least a dozen uses thanks to the App Store (gaming, Netflix, eBooks, etc.). In other words, this isn’t some $300 system that can only stream music.

However, AirPlay did drain my iPod Touch’s battery fairly quickly and I noticed some lag on my wireless network. But neither were as bad as I was expecting. If you own an iOS device already, I strongly recommend picking up an AirPort Express, Apple TV or AirPlay-equipped stereo receiver. AirPlay is an easy and effective method of creating a multi-room wireless Internet radio music system. — MS

VARIETY SPOTLIGHTS PANDORA

So can we call Internet radio “mainstream” yet? Variety Magazine features Pandora in a recent article, looking back to the company’s tumultuous past, touching on royalty snafus and highlighting Internet radio’s in-car future. The article claims 65 million users have now signed up with Pandora, each of whom “spend an average of 10 hours per month on the service, half of that on mobile devices.”

“Internet time is replacing radio time for youngsters,” writes Variety, “If the younger generation retains those habits, and if Pandora is successful in translating to the auto environment, the consequences for AM/FM could be severe.” You can read the full article here.

RAMSEY SURVEY: FM NOT A FACTOR FOR CONSUMERS BUYING MOBILE DEVICES

The results of a new survey from Mark Ramsey indicate that for most consumers, FM radio is simply a non-factor in choosing a mobile phone. 88% of respondents told Ramsey they did not specifically look for FM capabilities when buying their cell phone. Most of those people desired other features. Of the 12% who did want FM radio, 69% found an FM-capable phone.

“In other words,” writes Ramsey (here), “few consumers are looking for mobile phones that contain FM radio, and those who are can evidently find one…broadcasters have a terrific opportunity to create experiences on those devices which are different from ‘the FM band’ and more station-specific and content-specific.”

POCKET-LINT GIVES THUMBS UP TO Q2 CUBE WI-FI RADIO

You may remember the odd Q2 Internet radio (RAIN coverage here), which one controls by tipping it on different sides. Interesting to be sure, but is it really practical in day-to-day use? Pocket-lint wanted to find out.

“It’s remarkably simple in operation,” the review states. Sound quality was surprisingly “much better, cleaner and crisper than a lot of radios out there, Internet or otherwise.” You can read the full review here.



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