Aluratek Internet Radio Alarm Clock With Built-in Wi-Fi
At a Glance
Aluratek Internet Radio Alarm Clock with Built-in Wi-Fi
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An easy way to expand your musical horizons.
Whether it's ice cream flavors, TV shows, or music, I like to have options--and plenty of them. But Aluratek's Internet Radio Alarm Clock With Built-in Wi-Fi overwhelmed me: it actually offered me too many choices.
At first glance, the radio looks like an ordinary alarm clock. Unlike a run-of-the-mill bedside clock, however, it connects (wirelessly or via ethernet) to your home network to access more than 11,000 channels of Internet radio. It has an FM tuner, as well, and can connect to a stored library of tunes on your PC or MP3 player.
Setup couldn't be easier: You plug it in and turn it on, and it automatically find available networks. If an ethernet cord is connected, it will default to a wired LAN; if no cord is plugged in, it will start in wireless mode.
In wireless mode, the Internet radio automatically scans for 802.11b/g networks and then displays the ones it finds on the radio's small screen. The remote control lets you select the network you want;if the network is encrypted, you enter the passkey for it. (The remote doesn't have its own screen; all information is displayed on the radio.) The Aluratek radio then connects automatically and finds that network each time you turn it on.
The remote controls all of the radio's functions. To access Internet radio stations, you click the Radio IP button and browse through the available stations--more than 11,000 choices, organized by category. You can browse by location, genre, and popularity, among other criteria. Most stations are stored in subfolders within each category, which makes navigating them a tad easier. You can, for example, search for pop music stations in Albania or classical music stations in China. Once you find a radio station that you'd like to listen to, you can connect to it within a few seconds. The radio pauses for a moment while buffering, and then playback begins.
Even so, some categories are unwieldy: More than 100 classic rock stations are available, and the helpfulness of their titles varies. You may know what to expect from a station called "101.ru Pink Floyd," but not from a station called "0170s Classic Rock 2." You can designate stations as favorites to make locating them in the future easier.
While listening to various stations is fun, it hardly justifies the radio's $200 list price. I was more interested in the radio's ability to connect to my networked PC's Windows Media Player 11 or MusicMatch Jukebox library. I adjusted a few PC settings to share my music, and within minutes I was listening to tunes on the Aluratek radio. A USB port on the front of the device lets you attach a USB storage drive or an MP3 player, too.
I experienced no hiccups or stuttering with any of the music I listened to, whether the connection was wired or wireless. Sound is decent but a bit tinny--about what you'd expect out of an alarm clock. Though I found it satisfactory, true audiophiles may be disappointed.
A bigger disappointment to me was the radio's 3-by-1.5-inch LED display, which displays all of its information in shades of blue and white. The text is large enough to read from several feet away, but not much text fits on the screen. Scanning through the stations or songs requires extensive scrolling on the small screen.
Still, this radio is fun to use. If you're bored with the offerings on your FM radio, the Aluratek Internet Radio Alarm Clock can multiply your musical choices many times over.