I suppose I am old fashion, but I like to listen to radio, I always did. I still remember being a kid and listen in the dark at Radio Free Europe with my family when the electricity was cut of by the government to save money. But that was a different country and different life. The nostalgia remained though. So I looked around on the internet to buy a radio that would receive international stations (I already have a Sony World Band Receiver ICF_SW7600GR – who the heck comes up with these names?) which is a very good receiver in its own right, but the reception sucks in my city and anyway, they are very few foreign radio stations that broadcast strong enough to receive them in SOCAL.
Enough ranting, I managed to find two different internet radio receivers, a Philips NP1100/37 and an Aluratek AIRMMF01F (another weird name). I bought both of them! The last one is the subject of today’s review.
The Aluratek radio in itself is a small wonder. It allows you to receive over 11,000 world wide radio stations without monthly fee (including NPR, BBC, etc) neatly organized on categories and countries. But this is not all!
This is the list of features, as listed on the manufacturer’s website. I will add my comments for each of them:
- Choose between more than 11,000+ radio stations worldwide via built-in vTuner with no monthly cost. (works as advertised, you can even add your own stations)
- HD stations supported
- No monthy fees or subscription costs
- Easy install and setup (mostly yes with the sole exception of typing the WPA key, I’ll talk about this later)
- Time and date automatically sets
- Search music by genre, i.e. classic, pop, talk, news, sports etc. and geographically over 150 countries
- Compatible with universal Plug-n-Play audio servers such as: Microsoft Media Player 11 (WMP11), Microsoft Media Connect, MusicMatch Jukebox(what it doesn’t explicitly says is that it implements a DLNA client – I successfully connected to PS3 Media Server)
- Wireless access WIFI 802.11 b/g, Ethernet and USB 2.0 (host only) connectivity (the wireless connection is crappy, never worked reliable and I have two modern wireless routers, but i have most of my house gigabit Ethernet wired)
- Built-in FM radio tuner for local FM broadcast service (don’t use, as I mentioned in my area the reception sucks across the whole spectrum)
- Access music files stored on a USB 2.0 flash drive, MP3 player or Hard drive through the unit’s USB port (works really well, I am using it with a 400GB western digital pocket hard drive. you need to use FAT32 though, NTFS is not recognized)
- Alarm clock function with 2programmable alarms wakes you up to internet radio, FM radio, digital music, or choice of several alarm tones
- Integrated amplifier: 2x2W stereo
- External plug for headsets (3.5mm)
- 2 RCA plugs (Stereo Lineout) for external speakers
- No PC is required (it is required for DLNA though, or just use some NAS+ DLNA)
Not specified, but if is connected to a wired connection, it can work as a wireless access point. The remote control is small, with tiny buttons, but once you learn it is easy to find the buttons in the dark. It has dedicated buttons that will take you to mp3 player, FM tuner, web radio, etc. the quality is not great, so at some point you might decide to use a universal one (I have a Harmony 880)
Sound quality is pretty good considering the small speaker, if you need, you can connect it to an external receiver via the supplied RCA jacks.
As happy as I am with the radio, it has some annoying issue though. Nothing major, at least for me but good to know:
1. The wireless connection is not very reliable even with the latest firmware. The radio works fine but the DLNA access drops every several minutes. on wired, I experienced no issues.
2. For some weird reason, the sleep times doesn’t work after 11:00PM
3. It is a major pain to use the remote control to type your WPA key. Just horrible!
4. It has 4 brightness level: off, very bright, ultra bright and midday SO CAL in the summer bright. It won’t let you sleep, however it will chase any local vampires and bogeymen away.
All in all, a very good and useful little radio that now I cannot do without, well engineered and at a very low price.