Tivoli Audio NetWorks Radio
Retro looks with modern capabilities.
- Great style, easy to use
- Ugly screen, mediocre sound
Thanks to the Tivoli NetWorks radio there is now no need for you to sit at your computer to listen to streaming Internet music. It does have to make a few compromises, however — in design and sound quality.
Price$ 979.00 (AUD)
Tivoli’s NetWorks Radio means you no longer need a computer to be able to access Internet streams. However, it doesn’t blow away the competition, and it struggles in a few key areas.
Tivoli Audio has been making ground-breaking radio products for a few years now, with the original Model One released in 2002. That model had great looks and didn't compromise on sound quality.
It’s something of a niche market: with the advent of easily accessible Internet broadcasting, the traditional mantelpiece radio is a dying breed. This hasn’t deterred Tivoli, though, which has adopted an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude in releasing the NetWorks Radio.
It combines the functionality of a traditional FM transistor radio — no AM reception, unfortunately — with the features of a Digital Audio Broadcast-compatible network receiver. This bridging device is fantastic: it opens the doors to an incredibly diverse range of radio stations worldwide, from Armenian folk music to ultra-hip New York jazz.
It has a decent range of inputs as well. There is a line input for a portable audio player, as well as a recording output and a subwoofer output for connecting additional devices. The bundled remote is relatively simple but it gets the job done.
We tested the Stereo version of the package, which comes bundled with a second speaker. Only a few connections needed to be made, and all necessary cables are included.
There is not too much agony involved in setting up wireless access, either. The show is controlled by a scroll-wheel on the top of the unit and all network settings can be adjusted without drama. The process of inputting a long password takes some time, but at least it only has to be done once.
The radio is preloaded with five Internet radio stations, and it's easy to switch between them. While there’s only space for five presets, unlimited stations can be set as favourites. Don’t add too many, however, or scrolling through them all on the limited screen space can become troublesome.
This leads to one of our main concerns with the unit. The screen is quite low resolution, with only three lines of text visible at one time. The font used is also quite blocky and long station names can run off the edge of the screen. If you’re a user that likes to quickly flick between stations or tracks you might find the limitations a little vexing.
If you do have a computer connected to your home network, there’s also the option to set up the NetWorks Radio as a media streaming device. It’ll find and play any music that you’ve got shared, functioning in the same fashion as Logitech’s Squeezebox line of products.
The sound from the unit is slightly disappointing, given the fantastically involving sound we’ve heard from other Tivoli products. It’s simply a little too muffled and muddy for our tastes. Separation between the two speakers was good, however, allowing for plenty of immersion in audio tracks.
There is a lot to like about the NetWorks Radio. It combines (most of) the old functions of a tabletop radio with the abilities of the latest digital audio streamers. There are a few compromises made, of course — as well as a few shortcomings — but we couldn’t help but like the overall product as a whole. It’s a nice retro piece that would look at home on any mantelpiece.
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