We’ve received a lot of emails and several comments about the confusion surrounding “internet radio”. What is it? How does it work? How do I pick the right radio? So we put together some of the pros and cons and then a few additional considerations. In this post, we aren’t recommending a particular radio over another but rather giving you some points to consider when making your decision so you can pick the right product for you.

First, let’s establish that there is a pre-requisite to using WiFi Internet radio –

  • You need to have a broadband connection. Most internet radios will work on WiFi or with a direct Ethernet connection (that network jack on the back of the radio that provides a connection to the router).

Let’s jump into the benefits for you as a listener –

  • First, a Crystal clear signal – no static, no fade.
    • Need your radio fix but you get terrible AM reception at your office or in your apartment complex?
    • Tired of listening to the whine of static on your favorite radio talk show or having it fade out right when something important is being discussed? WiFi Internet radio to the rescue.
  • The second benefit – stations from literally anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re 3 miles away or 3,000 miles away.
    • If you have recently relocated and you now live in Los Angeles but your favorite station is in Boston, WiFi Internet Radio might allow you to receive it.
    • Or let’s say your transplant was even further – you moved to the U.S. from Italy. You can listen to Italian Parliament right on your radio.
    • Maybe your local station stopped carrying your favorite host and now you can’t receive their show anymore – I can almost guarantee there is a station on WiFi Internet radio that is broadcasting that show.
    • If you just can’t get enough of the Beatles, you can choose from several Beatles stations that play all Beatles all the time.
  • Third, you can avoid entering personal information through a form to access the stream or trying to translate international web pages that have the stream you want to hear. They’re already on the radio and are easily accessible so you don’t have to get additional spam from strange countries because you want to hear their music.
  • Another benefit – no subscription fees. Yes, you’ll still have to pay your high speed internet bill but you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to listen to your favorite station.

We’re often asked if there are any drawbacks, and as with anything, there are a few.

  • First, there is a slight delay broadcasting the signal. So if you’re listening to a game on your AM radio and have it going on a WiFi Internet radio at the same time you’ll hear the basket being made on your AM radio a few seconds before you hear it on the Internet radio. Some people consider this a drawback.
  • Another inconvenience is some programming that is broadcast over regular radio is not broadcast on the internet due to licensing issues – primarily these are specific sporting events like MLB games, NFL and NBA. Every now and then, if you know the local stations that have the rights, there are exceptions but if you buy it with that intent, you will be disappointed.
  • This one is a blessing and a curse. There are currently several thousand stations on internet radio, with more being added every day. This means there is an endless supply of radio stations from around the world to listen to. It also means if you don’t know what you want to hear, you could spend a lot of time trying to find what you want. The best solution, to prevent overload, is to get a radio that has memory presets and use them. So with the touch of a couple buttons you can go right to your favorite station.
  • Buffering (the slow or intermittent load of stations) – depends on the signal from the station that is streaming. It is also dependent on your own network. If your child, grandchild (or your spouse…) is in the other room playing online video games you may experience more buffering.
  • Not portable – for some people this is a deal breaker. It just depends on what you need. If you like to take your radio with you, then this might not be the right product for you.
  • The radio is dependent on your internet connection, so if the internet is down, so is your radio.

When selecting a WiFi Internet Radio, take into consideration some of the same things you would consider for any radio like size, audio jacks, clock, alarms, etc.

Some additional benefits with an Internet radio are: if you like to listen to services like Pandora, Live365, MP3.com or Aupeo many of these radios will work with subscription based programs. You can also use it to stream MP3 and WMA audio files from your Windows computer. If you have special subscriptions for MLB baseball, Rhapsody, or others that require a graphical interface, you’ll want to find a radio that has a flash based interactive screen like Squeezebox (not available through C. Crane).

One last thing, there are some changes taking place in the industry where stations are only allowing their stream to be on certain devices. If you’re not sure about our radio and you want to see if your station is available, we have a Find Station tool on one of our sister websites at http://www.woodenradio.com/FindStation/Index.aspx.

For more on what you might hear on internet radio, check out our video.

*The company, product and service names used in this newsletter are for identification purposes only. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.