Acoustic Energy Wi-Fi Internet Radio
Ideal for a bedroom or kitchen, but it lacks the quality for streaming a music library.
While many devices are intended to be hooked up to an external sound system, the Acoustic Energy Wi-Fi Internet Radio is a standalone unit, much like any normal portable radio. It’s an oddly shaped – but not unattractive – black and silver device, with speakers mounted in the front and the controls on the top beneath a two-line LCD screen.
The welcome screen reveals that the Internet function is handled by Reciva, which retrieves a hefty selection of stations for your perusal – if you can’t find what you want, Reciva will often add stations on request. They can be browsed by either genre or, usefully, location.
Quality varies, though, with some stations coming through at a decent high-definition 128Kb/s and others struggling to hit 40Kb/s. This occasionally gives music an underwater effect, and drop-outs were commonplace during our testing. The stereo speakers are loud enough for all but the largest or noisiest rooms, but they can sound slightly muffled, which can reduce the enjoyment of music.
Setting up the Wi-Fi Internet Radio is simple but time consuming. It scans for available networks and, once found, you enter any WEP or WPA security keys using the scroll knob. The alphabet is laid out from end to end, and scrolling along to spell out a key is a lengthy process, particularly when compared to the mobile-phone-style text input of other products.
Once connected, it scans the network for PCs (it sees also NAS appliances) and then, uniquely, adds tracks in shared folders without the need for any UPnP media server software. Bear in mind that it takes some considerable time to scan folders for tracks, so be prepared for a long wait with a larger music library. The library can then be browsed using the selector knob by album, artist or playlist, and any number of songs can be queued up to play.
There’s a 3.5mm output should you want to connect to a separate sound system, but the Wi-Fi Internet Radio is best seen as a portable standalone radio. Its ideal home is the kitchen or a bedside table, but if you’re looking to stream your MP3 collection this Internet Radio isn’t the best option, particularly given the relatively high price and the cheaper Noxon iRadio.