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Internet radio is coming to your nightstand's clock-radio

Posted on: 10/29/2009

A few weeks ago, I finally took the plunge and spent $300 on a Squeezebox Boom (Amazon product page here), which we’ve previously written about in RAIN as the promise of the Kerbango Internet radio (February 2000 RAIN article here) fulfilled.

Basically, the Squeezebox Boom is a high-quality clock-radio that works just like a traditional clock-radio, except that it picks up your choice of any of thousands of Internet radio stations. (There are actually analogous products from a lot of different manufacturers, but this is one of the two models that Best Buy carries.)

I had imagined that having a tabletop Internet radio on my nightstand wouldn’t be much different than keeping my two-year-old laptop there and listening to Internet radio on it… but in fact I learned it’s a wildly-different user experience.

First, it feels very, very different to tune in an Internet radio station using a dial just like one does traditional radio stations. It makes it seem like a whole different product category.

Second, it make music discovery much easier. You can “dial around” and sample new stations much more easily.

Third, it’s much better audio quality than if you were listening on your laptop PC’s speakers — and, in the Boom’s case, much better audio quality than any other clock-radio I’ve ever owned.

The downside to tabletop Internet radios to date, however, has been their displays. Two short lines of text just doesn’t cut it compared to the amount of information that can be displayed in a web browser window.

But now even that problem is getting resolved. Logitech, the manufacturer, has just announced a new product called, elegantly, the Squeezebox Radio that features a small form factor, a 33% lower price, and a 2.4” color LCD screen. (This, by the way, is part of a growing trend — it follows similar, less-elegant-looking devices from Philips and vTech containing color LCD displays that were announced earlier this year.)

Of course this product category is going to take years to reach mass-market ubiquity… but it’s clearly where radio is headed. To quote the Howard Hughes character seen in “The Aviator,” it’s the wave of the future. Wave of the future.

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  1. I agree this is where tabletop internet radios are headed but similar functionality such as Pandora, Slacker and other internet radio functionality can now be found in networked TV’s as well as Blu-Ray players. Not to mention an iPhone or iPod Touch that can stream the same content and requiring only a dock on the bedside table. 200 bucks is a more manageable than the Boom at $300 but still lots of moolah.

    Fred Valenzuela Falcone · Oct 29, 11:57 AM · #

  2. Agree with Fred – it’s a lot of cash to plop down for internet-radio-only capability. What would be very cool is a multi-use system that took iPod, Zune, regular hook-ups, etc. – and that hooked into IRAD, including Pandora, GrooveShark, all the new platforms popping out, etc. – and AccuRadio of course. I have the $300 Bose system for iPod, and its terrible having a quality sound system that can only function for 1 particular thing.

    Jake Burns · Oct 30, 06:23 AM · #

  3. The OXX Digital Classic table radio has most of the the functionality of Squeezebox with excellent audio quality and can be had for less than one-third of the price; I paid less than $80. I now have two of these beauties and enjoy both live and on-demand streams together with FM and HD options. This Oxx clock-radio includes both a LAN port for those without wifi and an aux-in port for iPods and such.

    Joe Cavanagh · Nov 16, 09:49 AM · #

  4. huh…? internet radio has been on my nightstand for more than 2 years with a Grace internet radio… true, it doesn’t have the cool graphic display of the Squeezebox unit, but i can lie in bed and spin around different countries and formats plus pandora and satellite radio and listen to streams encoded with just about any codec, have the thing shut off (sleep timer) after a bit, and wake me up again in the morning… all in glorious mono (just like my clock radio when i was a kid)…

    i can’t be the only one who put one of these units on my nightstand, can i?

    Robin Diane Goldstein · Nov 16, 10:50 AM · #

  5. Kurt,

    You are very kind to recall the ancient, but much beloved, cult of the Kerbango radio!

    Jim Gable
    Kerbango co-founder

    Jim Gable · Nov 17, 07:54 AM · #

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