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Our new Acoustic Energy wi-fi radio

We received our Acoustic Energy wi-fi radio yesterday and it's absolutely fantastic. Since this is a relatively new technology I expected there to be interface/useability issues but it works so well and so straightforwardly. We plugged it in, told it which wireless network was ours (and what the password was), and within a few seconds we had a massive international range of streamed radio stations to listen to!

The sound quality is very good - the speaker is clear and the flat bottom of the unit makes good contact with the table to give a bit of added bass resonance. One thing which I didn't realise was that as well as radio streams, the unit can also browse and connect to certain 'listen again' features (like the ones provided by the BBC) which is an added bonus, and again works very smoothly.

One thing I really like is the strategy of being able to upgrade the firmware (the radio's internal logic, essentially) remotely at the touch of a button. This means that the company can push out improvements and added features without us having to pay another £200 for a newer model. Their website hints that they're planning to add Ogg Vorbis support as well as MP3/WMA/Real, which would definitely be good. But even more interesting would be the suggestion from another blogger that, "Of course, streaming MP3 podcasts is completely within this unit's technical capability: so it would be interesting to see whether a forthcoming firmware update would allow it to do that." That would be an absolutely excellent addition.

Any quibbles? Only one or two minor ones. As another blogger commented, the backlit screen dims a little bit but nowhere near enough to have it by your bedside! We put it by the bed last night but ended up covering the screen with something. (Considering that the radio has an alarm-clock feature, it's a shame they didn't think of this.)

Another small one is that when you press pause and then play, the unit has to re-buffer the sound so there's an added delay. (I can imagine that it would be technically not-too-straightforward to add a second internal buffer to overcome this, so I'm not expecting this to change soon.)

In fact, the buffering is the only significant problem when compared against ordinary radio, but I'm afraid that's a built-in limitation of internet-streamed radio. This unit copes very well and on most channels it doesn't do any dropping-out-and-rebuffering while you're trying to listen. It really is ten times better than a DAB radio.

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