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Internet Radio Players: Discovering Unrestricted Listening

I have been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 13 years.

Finding the Best Internet Radio Player

Internet radio is perfect for music lovers. It can expose you to the widest selection of music and other radio features, such as podcasts, from every genre and every corner of the world. Best of all, much of this is available for free, although there are plenty of paid services to assure you get just what you want.

An internet radio player gives you access to listening to all of this without sitting in front of your computer. With these players, you can pick up simulcasts of broadcast radio stations, stream internet-only services, access internet music services such as Pandora, Rhapsody, and others, stream music from your computer, and in some cases, listen to the music on your MP3 player with high-quality speakers, anywhere in your home.

Listening to Internet Radio

Listening to internet radio is simple. You can listen on your computer, of course, but the sound system there might be limiting. You can find it on cell phones with a web connection too. For better quality audio, however, a look around a home electronics store will reveal some internet radio players. They are great for listening anywhere in your home or office.

Obviously, you will need an internet connection, but these standalone players require no complicated setup. Just set them on a tabletop, desktop, or something similar, plug them in (or insert the batteries), and then turn the power and the music on to enjoy.

At the bottom of this article, you will find some resources to help you find stations across the world and even some tips for broadcasting your own.

Buying Tips

The best internet radio player is the one that offers the features you want for the price you need. Here are some things to think about, beyond price, when making your choice:

Audio Quality

While listening to a device is the best way to judge audio quality, you can look for a few things that will signal better performance even when you can't listen first. Two or more speakers tend to provide better sound than a single (mono) speaker. A 30-watt amplifier, equalizer controls, and so forth can indicate a more sophisticated sound system than some radios offer, so these things are an indication of a better audio experience. While most of the devices on this page are standalone with built-in speakers, there are some that play music through an existing stereo or external speakers.

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Most of the devices on this page offer Wi-Fi. These internet radio player models tend to be preferred because they allow you to listen without being tethered by a physical connection. This simply means you can listen in your office/den/study, the living room, in the garage, or out on the deck.

Music Sources

Clearly, an internet radio player should give you access to the many thousands of free internet radio stations online. However, you may also want to consider what other sources you will want to access. For instance, services such as Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody, Sirius, and so forth. Some devices offer one such service; others offer many. In addition, you may want to access your own music library on your computer; if that's the case, you need compatibility with those files. Some of these devices will also provide a line-in for your MP3 player; others don't.

Remote Control

Like Wi-Fi connections, a good remote can increase your mobility while listening. Most remotes are infrared, but some are Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi will give you the greatest mobility. Some remotes include an LCD display that allows you more control and more entertainment from the palm of your hand as you can often view album art and photos with them. Even without a remote, having the ability to use presets and to tag favorites can be an important control to have or perhaps the ability to use your phone for navigation. Without any of this, finding the stations, you want each day can be a hassle.

Ease of Use

Think about how easy menus are to navigate as you examine devices. How fast do they respond, and do they give you direct connections to make accessing the sites you use fast and easy? Are the displays easy to read and is set up straightforward? Some have colorful LCD displays.

Other Functions

Some internet radio players also double as an alarm clock. They may provide multiple alarms for homes where people have different wake times, and they may allow the user to designate different wake times on different days of the week. Adjustable sleep timers are also nice for falling asleep to your favorite tunes.

When available, it's also good to look at current user reviews to see what real-world people think about a given internet radio player when in use. For the products on this page, clicking on the item will take you to the page for a closer look as well as access to any user reviews.

Find Internet Radio Stations

Learn How to Broadcast Your Own Internet Radio Show

© 2010 Christine Mulberry

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