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Best TableTop Radio

Best Satellite Radio for Home

To help you find the best satellite radio for your home, we’ve combed through dozens of products, testing their features and sound quality, coming up with a list of our three favorite models. During our testing, we looked for products that truly shined in a home environment, favoring units that boasted fantastic signal strength and professional-grade sound. We also wanted products that allowed access to SiriusXM Radio Stations and their library of content, though that wasn’t a dealbreaker. Aside from that, we advocated for products with unique sets of features, like access to longwave and shortwave radio signals and the ability to connect to smartphones via Bluetooth.

Of these three satellite home radios, the Grace Digital Mondo+ was truly the belle of the ball, offering simple integration with SiriusXM, full Bluetooth capabilities and a gorgeous 3.5” color display, among other features. Keep on reading to learn more about the best satellite radio Mondo+ and the other satellite home radios on this list.

Top 3 Satellite Radio For Home Compared

 #1  Grace Digital Mondo+

Award: Top Pick/Best Features

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Grace Digital Mondo+ is the most feature packed radio on this list, not only offering access to SiriusXM’s satellite stream, but full Bluetooth functionality and built-in WiFi, which can be used to reach content providers like Pandora and iHeartRadio. It also sounds great, filling our testing room with a rich, warm sound that must be heard to be appreciated.

Pros
  • Can easily be made portable, with purchase of battery
  • Compatible with dozens of music streaming apps
  • Large color display makes setup and use simple
Cons
  • No FM/AM tuning option available
  • Screen can be too bright for nighttime use
  • Only ten presets, smallest number on this list

The Grace Digital Mondo+ is much more than just a satellite home radio, though it does, obviously, excel at listening to SiriusXM stations. It’s more of an all-in-one unit that can listen to just about anything you throw at it. It streams from your phone, computer or tablet, via Bluetooth. It connects directly to your WiFi router, allowing native support for dozens of streaming platforms, such as Amazon Prime and Spotify, and smart devices like Google Home. About the only thing it can’t do is play standard AM/FM radio.

The 3.5” full color display is also a treat. It’s bright, with a pleasing contrast, delivering vital information on what you are listening to from across the room, if need be. The radio can even be made portable, with the purchase of an external battery, allowing you to move it throughout the house or to your next backyard gathering. We got more than a dozen hours on a single charge. The best internet radio also has a lot to offer.

 #2  SiriusXM SXPL1H1 Onyx Plus Satellite Radio

Award: Honorable Mention/Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: The SiriusXM SXPL1H1 Onyx Plus is the perfect device for consumers looking for an easy and convenient way to listen to SiriusXM in the home. It’s simple to hook up to your home stereo and can even double as a car player, once you purchase the vehicle install kit.

Pros
  • Allows users to pause and rewind satellite streams
  • Comes with 3 free months of SiriusXM
  • Designed to quickly swap between home and car
Cons
  • No Bluetooth functionality
  • Remote works best near device
  • Some older Sirius XM channels sound compressed

The SiriusXM SXPL1H1 Onyx Plus is a marvel of design, with installation limited to hooking the home kit docking station to a set of powered speakers or your home stereo. Once that’s done, the unit is plug-and-play. You can slide the radio in and out of the docking station with ease, allowing it to travel to other docking stations, even cars, with all of your settings left intact. The front panel features a large color screen and a series of analog buttons, ideal for accessing up to 20 presets and pausing, rewinding and fast forwarding satellite feeds. Moreover, the build quality is high and the product even offers the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward satellite streams on command.

Of course, this is a device exclusively for listening to SiriusXM broadcasts and archived content. There is nothing by way of Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you cannot stream music and podcasts from your phone to this device. Still, this radio is truly a fantastic deal, made even more so by the free three month “All Access” SiriusXM subscription that comes packed in. I would love to hear the best floor standing speakers with this radio.

 #3  Eton Executive Satellit Radio

Award: Best Value/Most Portable

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Eton Executive Satellit Radio is both functional and unique, offering a suite of features that will appeal to niche enthusiasts of off-the-beaten-path programming. It’s light, 1.85 pounds, and battery powered, making this a true portable product.

Pros
  • Truly portable product, requiring a few D batteries
  • Receives every radio wavelength, including longwave and shortwave
  • Leather carrying case is expertly stitched and gorgeous
Cons
  • Instructions can be confusing
  • For niche enthusiasts, does not support SiriusXM
  • No Bluetooth, WiFi or other modern accouterments

The Eton Executive Satellit Radio captures every radio wavelength in existence, and we truly mean every single one. Not only does it broadcast AM/FM, it can access shortwave and longwave broadcasts, the VHF aircraft band, the Single Sideband (SSB) and even includes a PLL tuner to boost the AM signal, which we found dramatically increased the fidelity of AM broadcasts. The radio also boasts the ability to store a massive 700 presets, far and above any other product on this list. Simply put, we had a blast listening to radio broadcasts from around the world. It even picked up several local FM stations that our other radios skipped right by. This might be a good time to read 10 of the best Bluetooth speakers.

This is a beautifully designed, though niche, product, for those of you looking for a more interactive radio experience – it even comes with an exquisitely designed leather carrying case that complements the radio’s minimalist aesthetic. Look at it as the modern equivalent of those old shortwave radios folks used to tinker with in their basements. As such, it does not allow access to SiriusXM, though you may not even notice, as it does access thousands of international stations, the only product on this list to do so. The best smart speaker will also work great with this setup, as well as the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers.

How We Decided

There are a whole lot of satellite home radios on the market. In order to narrow down to the above list, we focused on ease of use, sound and build quality and unique features. One product, Grace Digital’s Mondo+, is a fantastic all-around device, offering up a myriad of ways to access content. SiriusXM’s radio is simply a perfectly priced entrance point to the world of satellite radio, with a home installation that took us, quite literally, seconds. The Eton Executive Satellit sacrifices access to SiriusXM, but makes up for it with a suite of unique features that made our heads spin. Listening to longwave, shortwave and VHF aircraft signals on it was a heck of a lot of fun.

There was also price to consider. None of the above products will set you back too much, with the SiriusXM Onyx being the lowest priced of the bunch. We also liked the fact that each product could, within reason, be easily moved throughout the house or, in two cases, offered actual portability.

Satellite Home Radio Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Sound Quality
    Satellite home radios are for the listening of music and the spoken word. As such, you want them to sound good. Some products, like the Grace Digital Mondo+, have a built-in professional-grade speaker, while still allowing for a connection to a home stereo unit. Others, like the SiriusXM Onyx have no built-in speaker, requiring a home stereo or pair of powered speakers in order to function. At the end of the day, home stereo units will offer a richer, fuller sound, but radios with built-in speakers could be a good option for a bedroom or small living space.
  2. Bluetooth, SiriusXM and AM/FM
    It’s important to consider just what you plan on doing with your satellite home radio. Are you interested in listening to SiriusXM, and SiriusXM only? Then the company’s Onyx will be your best bet, offering fantastic bang for the buck. Are you a smartphone power user, hoping to stream your favorite content from apps like Spotify and Amazon Prime? The Grace Digital Mondo+, and similar products, will have you covered. Do you want to have fun listening to bizarre international radio shows and civil aviation broadcasts? Then something with access to shortwave, AM/FM and VHF signals, like the Eton Executive Satellit, is your best bet.
  3. The Display is an Information Portal
    Not all satellite radios have displays, but those that do perform double duty. They act as an information portal, letting you know exactly what you are listening to, usually via a station logo or album cover photo. They also help with navigation and setup. We found the big, colorful display of the Grace Digital Mondo+ was a boon in helping us access every function of the device.
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Best TableTop Radio

Best Internet Radio

To help you find the best Internet radio on the market, we’ve hunted down dozens of options, ran them through their paces, and came up with a list of our favorite models. During testing, we eliminated products with poor sound quality, ones that didn’t have access to all of your favorite radio stations and units that would simply look horrible in your living room.

Of these best seven Internet radios, the Grace Digital Mondo+ was the best Internet radio and leader of the pack, offering unparalleled access to Internet radio stations, a gorgeous and useful color display and the option for portability. Keep on reading to learn more about this wonderful radio and the six other products on this list.

Top 7 Best Internet Radio Compared

 #1  Grace Digital Mondo+

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Grace Digital Mondo+ is easy to control, sounds great and easily loads more than 30,000 radio stations, as well as being fully compatible with dozens of music streaming apps, such as Amazon Prime and Spotify, and smart devices like Google Home.

Pros
  • Can be made portable with purchase of battery
  • Super light, weighing just 1.6 pounds
  • Large color display makes setup and use a breeze
Cons
  • Some apps are missing out of the box
  • No FM/AM tuning option available
  • Screen can be too bright for nighttime use

The Grace Digital Mondo+ offers up fantastic, though mono, sound quality. Podcasts and music really sparkle with this device. The biggest draw, though, is the large color LCD screen. The size makes it easy to tell what you are doing, making finding your favorite Internet radio station or changing settings easier than the other options on this list. It also comes packed in with an infrared remote, which we found useful for changing the station and adjusting volume.

Though this product is intended for home use, but it can easily be made into a portable radio with the additional purchase of a battery. This external battery pack lasts more than a dozen hours on a single charge. The Mondo+ is light, just 1.6 pounds, which makes it the perfect radio for days at the beach or nights in the backyard.

 #2  Sangean WFR-28 Internet Radio

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sangean WFR-28 Internet Radio has a laundry list of useful features, including USB connectivity, an antenna for AM/FM listening and true portability, right out of the box, as soon as you buy a few D batteries to power it.

Pros
  • Portable right out of the box
  • Supports 11 audio formats natively
  • Many EQ options for customizing sound
Cons
  • Only ten presets, which is the lowest on this list
  • Light, but required D batteries nearly doubles weight
  • Would benefit from handle on top, for easy transport

The Sangean WFR-28 Internet Radio sounds great, with a gaggle of EQ options for customizing your sound. The LCD color screen simplifies use, clearly letting you know exactly what song, podcast or radio program you are listening to at a glance. Additionally, it can be controlled via a smartphone app, available on the Apple and Google Play stores, which we found to be highly intuitive and user friendly.

In addition to FM/AM tuning and support for 25,000 digital radio stations, the unit also natively supports Spotify, via Spotify Connect. It also plays 11 different audio formats, which include industry standards like MP3 and WAV, as well as rarer formats, such as Ogg Vorbis and FLAC.

 #3  LEMEGA M5+ All-in-One HiFi Music System

Award: Best Looking

WHY WE LIKE IT: The LEMEGA M5+ All-in-One HiFi Music System is a beast, with a pair of fantastic sounding stereo speakers and an elegantly designed subwoofer that really brings the bass. The hand-crafted wood veneer cabinet also boasts USB and FM functionality and, even, a CD player.

Pros
  • Versatile unit, with USB, FM and CD functionality
  • Stereo speakers sound great
  • Beautiful design, featuring aluminum and wood
Cons
  • High price tag, doubling others on this list
  • Occasionally could not connect to Internet stations
  • Instruction manual poorly written and confusing

The LEMEGA M5+ All-in-One HiFi Music System is a true stereo unit, with a pair of , 2.5 inch full range speakers hiding behind the attractive aluminum-brushed frame and furniture-grade wood cabinet. The 5.5 inch down-facing subwoofer adds to the product’s fantastic sound. These three speakers combine to create a signal that sounded warm and crisp no matter how hard we pushed the gain. The radio is available in walnut and black oak, both of which are gorgeous to behold.

The product has one feature that is not available anywhere else on this list, a CD player that supports CD, CD-R and CD-RW discs. You can control the unit via a packed-in remote or a smartphone app, both of which worked flawlessly.

 #4  Ocean Digital WR-330D Internet Radio

Award: Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: Ocean Digital’s WR-330D Internet Radio offers up a suite of competitive features, including a great sounding subwoofer speaker, 17 foreign language options and the ability to save a whopping 250 presets. It also clocks in at a lower-than-average price point, making it the best value on this list.

Pros
  • 250 presets available
  • Subwoofer presents fantastic bass response
  • Color display is useful, showing radio station logo and weather
Cons
  • Sound is mono
  • Set up is a bit confusing, especially setting up WiFi
  • Remote control app is fussy, stops working occasionally

The Ocean Digital WR-330D Internet Radio’s dedicated subwoofer captures bass in a way most other items on this list simply cannot do. It is thick and rumbly, making this the perfect unit to provide music at your next house party. We also found the color display to be especially useful, with each radio station’s logo boldly presented, making it easy to tell what you are listening to.

The display also shows some interesting information, including the time and the weather, though that is the extent of this unit’s smart device functionality. Ocean Digital makes some of the best internet radios, including the Ocean Digital Wi-Fi Internet Radio WR828F FM Receiver as well.

 #5  CC WiFi Internet Radio

Award: Easiest to Operate

WHY WE LIKE IT: The CC WiFi Internet Radio is a solid middle-of-the-road device. The mono speaker sounds great, with support for Pandora, iHeartMedia and Radio.com right out of the box. The unit also features a downright tiny form factor, coming in at just six inches tall and 3.9 inches wide.

Pros
  • Small size means it can fit anywhere
  • Easily connects to home speakers via line out
  • Alarm is actually useful
Cons
  • Screen makes navigating stations confusing
  • Internet radio only, no AM/FM or Bluetooth
  • Remote control cut out a few times

The CC WiFi Internet Radio’s small size makes it the perfect bedside device, which is further complemented by a robust alarm system, with a sleep timer you can set to turn off after a fixed amount of time. The product easily connects to a home stereo unit, with a handy line out port and the option for streaming, thanks to the inclusion of UPnP (Universal Plug and Play.)

It must be noted, however, that several features are missing from this product. There is no antenna, making AM/FM tuning impossible. It also lacks Bluetooth functionality or the option of a connected smartphone app. It does, however, come with a remote control that we found useful in searching for new stations to listen to. Another easy to use product is the Ocean Digital Internet Radio Wi-Fi/FM Radio WR26, which is a smart speaker that’s compatible with your smart devices, uses Bluetooth audio streaming services, and can last for up to eight hours on Wi-Fi.

 #6  auna Connect 150

Award: Built-in Subwoofer

WHY WE LIKE IT: The auna Connect 150 is a classy little unit, featuring a pair of true stereo speakers. It also contains a subwoofer, producing the kind of crisp and realistic sound that is perfect for music. On that note, it contains both a USB port and an aux input for playing MP3s.

Pros
  • Aux and USB inputs for connecting external devices
  • Subwoofer built in for optimal bass response
  • FM/AM antenna supports local listening
Cons
  • Heaviest item on this list, five pounds
  • No Bluetooth or app support
  • Finding radio stations can be difficult

The auna Connect 150 produces professional-grade sound via the inclusion of two 2.5 “ broadband speakers and a 3” woofer. Due to the placement of speakers, facing out on either side, we found the stereo image to be a bit too wide while listening to songs that feature heavy panning, which was only an issue a couple of times. The product also features an FM antenna, so you can listen to local radio stations, though it does lack Bluetooth support for streaming from your phone. The Connectdoes, however, stream natively from Spotify, if you are a premium user.

The radio does have a beautiful color display, which instantly streams pertinent information about whatever you are listening to. The screen is not especially helpful when it comes to finding radio stations, however, forcing you to occasionally input the station’s web address manually.

 #7  i-box Internet Radio

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: The i-box Internet Radio has several unique features, contrasting its supremely low price point, by far the cheapest on this list. It is Alexa compatible, comes in three retro designs and can sync up to eight other units, so you can have music playing throughout your entire house.

Pros
  • Can sync units together, offering full home listening
  • Alexa compatible, making this nearly a smart home device
  • Sounds great for the price
Cons
  • No display whatsoever, making setup and use difficult
  • More of a Bluetooth speaker than true Internet radio
  • Power cord is finicky, falling out when touched

The i-box Internet Radio is truly the best product on this list for those on you on a strict budget. It sounds pretty good, despite a mono speaker design. The Alexa connectivity turns this, nearly, into a smart home device. You can ask it to play certain songs or podcasts, to tell you the weather or control other Alexa-enabled devices throughout your home.

The i-box has Bluetooth, making it simple to stream anything from your phone or tablet. It does not, however, connect to Internet radio stations on its own, requiring that same phone or tablet. Still, with the low price point and choice of three retro-inspired design choices, this is an inspired choice for budget conscious consumers.

How We Decided

There are hundreds of Internet radios on the market. In order to narrow the above list to seven, we immediately ruled out older units that connect via an ethernet port, focusing solely on WiFi friendly radios. We also took a look at what features were available, eyeing products that played content instantly and with little complication. If a radio offered Bluetooth functionality, in addition to streaming Internet radio, that was always a plus. Products that boasted colorful displays, heavy on useful information, also helped to pique our curiosity.

Of course, additional features matter little if the speakers sound bad. We used our ears to figure out which gave larger-than-life sound, no matter if the unit was stereo or mono.

Internet Radio Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Radio Station Access
    Internet radios connect to content in a variety of ways. Most modern units do not require additional hardware, be it smartphone or computer, in order to stream from digital radio stations. They do it right out of the box. Some models, however, only stream once paired with a smartphone app. On the above list, just the i-box requires Bluetooth connectivity.
  2. The Screen is Important
    The screen performs double duty on Internet radios. It acts as a portal, giving you information as to what you are listening to, usually via a radio station logo or a photo of the album. Also, a large screen can be especially handy when it comes to setting up the device and perusing available radio stations. There are over 30,000 digital radio stations waiting to be discovered and you can use all the navigation help you can get.
  3. Audio Quality
    Gone are the days of tinny sounding radio units. Each product on the above list, whether they feature one mono speaker or a pair of stereo speakers, sounds great. If you are looking for the absolute best in audio fidelity, look for radios that are only stereo, but also contain a subwoofer, which will really make the bass pop.
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Best TableTop Radio

Li-Fi Uses Your Lightbulb To Stream The Internet

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We all know Wi-Fi, although the name “Wi-Fi” doesn’t actually mean anything; it’s just a marketing term for a radio standard. Yes, your wireless Internet is just basically glorified radio. But the Navy wants to go one better and create an Internet connection using visible light. Welcome to the world of Li-Fi.

Let There Be Light

Li-Fi exists to solve a problem specific to the navies of the world. Radio waves don’t conduct well under water, meaning that submarines either have to get close or use acoustic communications, which are annoyingly slow. In order to solve these problems, Li-Fi was created.

Essentially, it shows binary information: The light blinks rapidly to communicate information. The faster the light blinks, the faster information is communicated. In fact, these lights blink so quickly, it’s impossible for the human eye to pick it out. We’ve just seen some advances that mean LEDs can flicker at seemingly ridiculous speeds; even a cheap LED can be used to transmit information.

A Technology We Need

That-Lightbulb-Moment-–-How-To-Make-Your-Business-Idea’s-A-Reality

But it may have uses beyond that. The electromagnetic spectrum is beginning to fill up as we put out more wireless signals and begin expanding technologies like white space broadband. True, as TV stations and radio stations begin to shut down, spectrum will free up, but there’s plenty of space in the visible light spectrum, and the technologies can be paired. But it might be easier to communicate information through LEDs.

Similarly, it can be paired with Wi-Fi to better “hand-off” Internet connectivity with devices on the move. Your car, for example, might use both radio and visible light to stay connected with the upcoming legally mandated vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems. But either way, as we get more and more connected, and need more and more Internet, expect to hear a lot more about Li-Fi.

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Best TableTop Radio

Eton FRX3 Red Cross Hand Turbine Radio Review

As the saying goes you can never be too prepared.  In this case I’m referring to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and those a like.  The New York and New Jersey area was recently and savagely beaten by hurricane Sandy.  A category 1 storm, that much like Katrina did copious amounts of damage due to flooding.  Some residents lost power for weeks, leaving them to seek power at at grocery stores to top up their phone’s batteries. If you want a radio with upgraded features, you’ll also want to read our Eaton FR-1000 voicelink radio review.

Enter the Eton FRX3, a hand turbine AM/FM/NOAA weather alert radio with a USB port and LED lights.  At $60 it’s a no brainer as it could pay dividends in the event of an emergency.  A small backlit display shows the FM radio channel and time.  Tuning the radio is actually a surprisingly pleasurable experience, as the knob on the right (the left changes the volume) is easy to reach and can quickly cycle through the frequencies.  Below the backlit display is a small, somewhat fiddley switch that toggles between AM/FM and the 7 available weather channels – what weather channels you’ll receive will vary by your area, but you should at the very least get one.  That said, Eton says you can setup the FRX3 to automatically play weather alerts, provided you’ve got the FRX3 charged up or have batteries in place.

Choices of power come in three forms: solar, hand turbine, or three AAA batteries.  I tested the first two.  The solar panel didn’t provide much juice to the FRX3’s built-in battery – about 1 minutes of radio playback time after sitting in the sun for a few hours.  The hand turbine faired far better, but didn’t achieve Eton’s claim of “one minute to get 10-15 minutes of radio.”  Spinning the hand turbine for 2-minutes achieved 5.5-minutes of radio playback at a medium volume with a strong signal.  The flash light on the other hand is far more efficient.  Although I didn’t test it using the red flashing LED light, I’m happy to report that just one minute of cranking produced 21-minutes of light.  Great if you’re faced with a road side emergency or the power drops in your home.

Included is a 600mAh rechargeable NiMh battery – this is the only battery that will charge via the hand crank.  Cranking the hand turbine for more than one minute will cause the onscreen battery icon to display full,  though that’s clearly not true.  It will however deplete to zero after just a few minutes of radio use.  Hitting the battery button located to the right of the display switches to the inserted AAA batteries – you can’t use the rechargeable NiMh and the AAA batteries simultaneously.

The back of the Eton FRX includes a collapsible antenna, the battery compartment, and rubber flap which masks the USB port, headphone jack.  The radio itself is relatively unremarkable, but its aesthetics are largely rooted in utility.  The solar panel is outlined with a glow in the dark strip to make it easy to find in, what else, the dark.  The volume and tuning knobs are easily accessible, and the whole package weighs no more than one pound.  All in all it’s a vastly useful piece of kit that anyone would be silly not to have in their home, especially if you live in an area ridden with turbulent weather that could negate your grid power for more than a few days at a time.

Bottom Line: A must have radio for anyone, any where.

Editor’s Rating:

[rating: 4/5]

Great

Pros: Charges any 5V device, doesn’t require the grid for power, built-in LED flashlight

Cons: 1-minute of cranking gets 2.5-minutes of radio and probably only a few seconds of juice on your smartphone

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Best TableTop Radio

World’s Smallest WiFi Radio

Viewquest WiFi Radio

The ViewQuest is the world’s smallest WiFi radio.  It’s almost palm sized small and includes a 15 hour rechargeable battery.  So provided you can find a WiFi signal you can jam out to 1000s of Internet radio stations of your choosing.  No WiFi, no problem.  There’s also an FM radio in case you have a penchant for the old and fuzzy.

Read: Best WiFi Router

You can score one now for about $130. Or, check out our Eaton-FR 1000 voicelink radio review for a similarly priced radio that will have you ready for any emergency.

Read

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Best TableTop Radio

Polk Audio I-Sonic HD Radio And iPod Speaker System Review

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Polk Audio i-sonic HD radio review

I’m surprised how many people still don’t know what HD Radio is.  The best way I can describe it is that every major radio station that you know has an HD version and is simultaneously broadcast with its analog version.  Simple right?  Admittedly I had gone years without ever hearing HD Radio so when I received the Polk Audio I-Sonic I was totally blown away by how awesome it sounded.

Having had a Sirius Satellite Radio (it was stolen), I thought that the programming was cool but the audio fidelity was horrible.  Not with HD Radio.  Sound is what HD Radio is all about and the Polk Audio I-Sonic excels at it.  Straight out of the box the I-Sonic delivers stellar audio reproduction values at no expense and I can easily say that I am now a huge fan of Polk Audio products and HD Radio.

In addition to being an HD Radio Receiver, the Polk Audio I-Sonic is also an iPod dock capable of iTunes tagging.  When you hear a song you like, just press the tag button on the I-Sonic and the information is stored and transferred to your connected iPod.  The next time you sync with your computer you can seamlessly buy all your tagged songs from iTunes.  For those of you who buy music this is a great way to check out some new tunes.

The I-Sonic has a myriad of other features as well.  There is a full alarm clock mode, station presets, HD station seek mode, plus the ability to plug it into a TV so you can watch videos or movies from your iPod thus making it a more suitable device to have stationed in your living room.

Aesthetically it kind of reminds me of that BOSE (Buy Other Sound Equipment) speaker system. You know, the one with the infomercial.  It actually has a very unique shape and doesn’t really have a level surface area so you can’t put beers on it.  Polk Audio uses a 4 speaker array with patented PowerPort technology that allows the I-Sonic to deliver room filling sound no matter where you are standing.  I totally agree.  The I-Sonic sounded great regardless of my position to the speakers and even when I was out of the room.

It has a display that is large and blue, and easy to read from across the room.  I also like the fact that HD Radio displays the artist and the track so even if you aren’t tagging music you know who you’re listening to with a glance of the display.

I dabbled through several genres of of music before finding my sweet spot at classic rock.  With no tweaking at all the I-Sonic sounded lavishly lush.  In fact, I had never heard classic rock sound so good.  Most memorable was how round and balanced the bass sounded.  It measured a perfect connection with treble and mid range frequencies to create a classic rock “symphony of emotion.”  In all honesty, words can be very descriptive, but they don’t come near to describing how immaculate this HD radio sounds.  Even using an iPod through it was up there with my current favorite dock the iPig, and though the iPig still jammed a little louder, the quality of the I-Sonic should not be taken lightly.

Tagging worked very smoothly and showed up just under the iTunes store bar in my computer’s iTunes.  Just one click will bring up the collection of songs you have tagged with the option to buy them.  Very easy.

The TV out capability worked flawlessly and really added versatility and depth to the I-Sonic.  All you have to do is make the proper cable arrangements and adjust the settings on your iPod and you are good to go.  The remote control works well with the TV out as well as all the other modes.  My only complaints about the controller are that it’s difficult to tell which end is which and that it could be bigger.

I’m really racking my brain for more to say about this HD Radio system.  It sounds killer, it’s easy to use, has a bunch of modes that are all well designed and implemented, and if you buy music the iTunes tagging feature will surely broaden your music horizons.  I had no issues with the firmware and all of my iPods and iPhones worked like a charm.  The price might be sticking point for some ($400), but I have rarely seen a dock that has so much quality to offer!  This is the type of system that a whole family or household can enjoy and I am just really flat out impressed with this product.

Pros:

  • Sound so awesome you won’t believe it’s radio
  • Versatile and easy to use
  • Compact design

Cons:

  • No matter what I say people will think it’s expensive
  • Remote control could be shaped so you know which way is the front

Buy it here for $400!

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Best TableTop Radio

Gadget Review: Eton FR-1000 VoiceLink Radio

EtonFR1000 1

Since the collapse of the economy, playing Fallout 3 and listening to Joe Rogan’s stand up routine, I have been interested in reviewing what I like to call “Apocalypse Gear.”  The first time I saw an Eton radio I was on my last day at CES 2009 and I liked the very approachable aesthetic and practicality of their many functions.  The FR-1000 seems to be the flagship of the FR series and is the only one that has GMRS.  Here’s a quick rundown of the FR-1000’s features:

  • 2-Way GMRS Clock Radio (General Mobile Radio Service) w/ VoiceLink Communication
  • NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)
  • Multiple Power Sources ( 4x AA batteries, AC Current, NiMH Internal Battery, HandCrank)
  • AM/FM/ Alarm Clock Radio
  • Flashlight w/ SOS Beacon
  • Emergency Siren
  • Water “Resistant”
  • Headphone & MicroPhone Jack
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Green Backlit LCD

Lots of features indeed.  Simply put, GMRS radio is used shortwave style and officially requires an $85 FCC license.  While most people that use GMRS casually do not have this FCC license, they are required to use certain channels and stay off others.  I tried finding people on GMRS in Portland, Oregon as well as Northern Virginia and had no luck; there was no one using the 22 channels during the several times I scanned the channels.  If you do have someone specific to talk with over GMRS you can use one of the 121 privacy codes to keep it amongst yourselves.  The included microphone would have let me speak to anyone out there and the microphone input jack would have let me connect a headset.  GMRS would be useful for large camping groups or communicating on construction sites and places such as tent city.  And of course for the apocalypse, everybody would be on it then.

NOAA worked better and I was able to use 1 of the 7 weather channels to locate the local weather forecast.  Reception was decent on both coasts but sometimes required my hand adjusting the antenna for true static free listening.  FM & AM radios were about the same with some attention required to get a clear signal.  What I thought was weak was that there was no way to save radio stations as thumbing the knob through small increments can be tedious every single time.  Top volume was loud but not too loud.  The speakers never distorted when the volume was cranked and it did a fair job of permeating outside noises.