With WiFi nearly ubiquitous in the home these days, it seems every home appliance has added wireless networking capabilities over the last few years. One added benefit from all this WiFi is that you are now able to stream music from a variety of Internet radio stations as well as the terrestrial radio stations that also broadcast their signal over the Web. Even with Smart TVs, BluRay players, smartphones, and A/V receivers able to stream online music, standalone Internet radios are also an item worth checking out this Holiday season.
Do Internet radios make sense in your house? Let’s take a look at some of the leading models to see if it makes sense to put one under your Christmas tree this year.
Why Do We Need Internet Radios?
With so many home entertainment devices now able to connect to a WiFi network to stream music, why even bother with an Internet radio? Well, standalone Internet radios serve a similar use-case as their old-fashioned over the air grandparents. If you currently keep a radio in the kitchen, or in the bathroom where your eyes don’t need to be distracted by a screen, replacing it with a newer WiFi-enabled model gives you more listening options.
You are probably aware of the massive number of Internet-only radio stations covering every genre from Blues to Zeuhl. Most quality Internet radios are also able to stream your own digital music collection from a computer or hard drive on your network using DLNA. In short, it is a great way to listen to music or other programming, like news and sports, without using your smartphone or tablet and their battery power.
The Bose Wave Radio III Gives You a Premium Option for Bluetooth Listening and More
Bose continues to be a well-known name in high-end audio, most notably their line of speakers. While some audiophiles feel Bose’s name and high-price trumps their actual sound quality, Bose 901 speakers still maintain a good reputation among discerning listeners. For those looking for a top notch Internet radio, the Bose Wave Radio III offers a decent mix between functionality and quality sound.
The Wave radio connects to any Bluetooth-enabled device, giving you many options for accessing digital music files or radio stations. The caveat being you have to pay $50 extra for an adapter to allow the Bluetooth connectivity. This brings the price of the Bose radio close to $400; a basic version with no Bluetooth connectivity retails for $349.
While the Bose Wave radio III won’t connect to your home network — so listening to music stored on a DLNA compatible hard drive is out — you can still stream music stored on Bluetooth devices — Internet radio apps too — without needing your own WiFi network. The sound quality is definitely great, but is it worth the extra price?
The Grace Digital GDI-IRC7500 Offers WiFi Connectivity and Great Sound
Grace Digital offers an entire line of Internet radios to meet the needs of most listeners. Their Encore model offers good stereo sound at around $199 — half the price of a Bluetooth-enabled Bose Wave radio III.
Being able to connect to your home network gives you more listening options, as it streams digital music files using DLNA, in addition to giving you access to the entire world of Internet radio without the proximity requirements of Bluetooth or having to enable an app on your smartphone or tablet.
A convenient 3.5-inch color display offers a superior user interface than the Bose radio, including the display of album art and radio station graphics. While the Encore doesn’t feature Bluetooth compatibility, this is a case where a connection to your WiFi network brings a better Internet radio experience than merely connecting to an app on your smartphone.
While Internet radios are primarily a niche product in the world of digital home entertainment, those of you who love to listen to music while busy doing something else stand to benefit from the additional options provided by Internet radio, not to mention easy access to the music collection stored on your network. Maybe one will end up under your Christmas tree this year?
Photo Credit: Vince Laconte