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Net radio "Cube" offers novel take on Wi-Fi players

Posted on: 12/17/2007

Cambridge Consultants, who nearly one year ago promised consumers an impressive breakthrough in inexpensive Wi-Fi Internet radio parts and manufacturing [previous RAIN coverage here], now seem ready to launch their first device using the low-cost technology.

The Iona “Cube” is an innovative take on emerging portable Wi-Fi Net radios. The company has stripped the player of virtually any control interface (even volume and power) and instead allows users to manage the device by rotating the device to control its playback and settings.

According to a press release from the company, users will be able to select any of the Cube’s four playable stations by turning the player onto one of its four available sides.

Packed with the same inexpensive technical guts that Cambridge Consultants touted last year, one would expect the Iona Cube to retail “for around $50 to $60,” a figure given by a company representative at that time.

The player will be displayed at the upcoming CES convention in Las Vegas.

From the press release: “The Iona ‘Cube’ is a fun new concept in low-cost, Wi-Fi enabled internet radio. In a radical departure from the traditional ‘push-button’ user-interface, Cambridge Consultants’ intuitive new design allows the listener to personalize the Cube to play just their favorite radio stations or podcasts. The Cube concept greatly simplifies the way people currently select which internet radio stations they listen to, whilst significantly reducing the cost of the radio at the same time.

“According to research, the average person listens to between three to four radio stations regularly. The Cube has been designed with this in mind. By simply turning the Cube onto one of its four available sides, it will change to the desired radio station.” A fifth side is dedicated to the speaker and the final remaining side is dedicated to switching the radio to the ‘off’ position. The Cube can be quickly and easily customised to play a listener’s top four stations.

The designers involved in this new concept wanted to keep simplicity to the maximum. Accordingly, even the volume button has been removed. Instead, the listener just twists the Cube to the right to increase the volume and twists to the left to decrease it.

Based on the Iona platform technology shown at CES 2007, the Cube uses a Wi-Fi connection to provide a choice of up to 10,000 stations from which listeners can customise the four sides of the radio concept, satisfying both mainstream and exotic tastes. Customisation of the Cube can be achieved via a number of ways, including using a simple web interface.

Duncan Smith, head of consumer products at Cambridge Consultants, says, “Well designed products are such a joy to use that they turn every consumer into an evangelist. The Cube concept is so easy and fun to use that it is infectious. Consumers won’t have to scroll through endless lists of stations to find their favourites, they will just have to flip the radio. It epitomises convenience and is so simple and intuitive that everyone will be able to use it.”

At CES 2008, Cambridge Consultants will be presenting a variety of technologies and revolutionary innovations, including the Iona Cube Radio. “

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  1. Cool, but are consumers supposed to print out and insert attractive station logos for their four favorite stations for the four sides of the cube? That seems like a little much to ask.

    Kurt Hanson · Dec 17, 07:39 AM · #

  2. 10,000 stations is a lot to choose from. But what about the other 10,000 or so. Does the device work across multiple stream types such as Windows Media and SHOUTcast? I want to know if I can get my station on it, before I buy one.

    Rick Crandall · Dec 17, 07:48 AM · #

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