FIRST LOOK Sangean WFR-20 Wifi Radio Pick

F
IRST LOOK
Bob Grove
bobgrove@monitoringtimes.com
Sangean WFR-20 Wifi Radio
Pick your own Programming
A
s I type this review, I’m listening to the ❖ Features
crisp brass of Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio The WFR-20 supports MP3, WMA, WAV,
Italien emanating from the two 3” stereo AAC, AIFF, FLAC Real Audio, and AU formats.
speakers in a small desktop radio. But this radio A choice of display languages is user-selectable.
is something quite different from what I’m used A clock/sleep/timer/alarm is yet another functo; its wireless interconnect feature has linked it tional selection, adjustable for 12 or 24 hour
to the Internet through my host computer from a format.
distance of up to 300 feet, allowing me to visit And, if you’d like to use the WFR-20 to
hundreds of classical music broadcasts at any access your personal digital media library via
one time, and countless other stations and stream your wired or wireless networked computer, you
sources throughout the world.
can select Windows™ Media Player™ using
You don’t even have to have a computer; the radio’s UPnP Server, or optionally call up
it can be used as a stand-alone receiver working your Microsoft™ Shared File Folder function
into a broadband Internet connection and a wired using any of the formats listed in the paragraph
or wireless router.
above. Your computer’s hard-drive-recorded
The radio is from Sangean and it’s the programs can be fast-forwarded or fast-reversed
WFR-20, their new WiFi Internet radio. Its by a simple click of the remote control.
sleek, black cabinet with one dial belies its Sound quality on the Sangean is quite good
multi-functional capability. A touch of that dial for a table radio. A single dial controls volume,
allows many menu choices, and a tiny infrared bass and treble, as well as station and mode
remote control makes the tasks even easier.
selection.
This little radio with big sound offers a The three-line, backlit LCD display is
menu with options of some 60 genres of music easy to read, and provides all the programming
including favorites like jazz, flamenco, folk information as it is manipulated either by the
music, classical, rock, new age, rap, country, dial or the remote control. After the station is
bluegrass, Christian, blues, hip hop, Latin, old- selected, the display automatically announces
ies, and many more. Talk radio, sports broad- the station along with the contents as provided
casts, news, interviews and other non-musical by that specific program.
programs are also available at the touch of the Since starting this review, I’ve switched
dial.
channels. Right now the scrolling display is
You can search for these stations with the telling me that I’ve selected AccuRadio Classic
radio or you may use your favorite web browser Crossover, and I’m listening to Alfred Brendel’s
and upload them to be filed in the “My Stations” Sonata No. 3, Opus 53 D. 850, 2. con moto, and
folder. Many of these stations offer a choice of that Real is enabled at 64 kbps in MP3.
“Live” (current broadcast) or “On Demand” The multilingual display vocabulary may
(previously-broadcast) sources, the latter of be selected from any of 11 different languages.
which can be fast-forwarded or fast-reversed.
The display offers a wide viewing angle of
It is estimated that there are currently more large characters, and brightens when the dial is
than 20,000 active Internet radio stations and pressed or turned to make an adjustment, dropaudio stream sources available. These are reg- ping back to a softer glow when simply scrollistered for your reference on the Reciva portal ing its information. The backlight dial may be
website: www.reciva.com. By registering with adjusted for brightness levels to suit the user.
Reciva, the listener may configure his WRF-20
to access an enormous database of
What distinguishes the new wifi radios
stations and streams of his preferisn’t their hardware – it’s what you can
ence, effectively increasing the
hear on them!
radio’s initial 12-channel memory
substantially.
Internet radio is like listening
to satellite XM or Sirius, but with
an astronomically larger selection, and without a monthly fee!
Granted, the satellite feeds are
available to portable and mobile
radios wherever they roam, while
Internet radio still requires the
computer connection.
66
MONITORING TIMES
July 2008
The WFR-20 is powered from AC; internal
audio power to its speakers is 5 watts per channel, available for optional external speakers
or a set of headphones from rear terminals. To
feed the receiver’s audio to an external amplified stereo system, a stereo line output is also
provided. Both audio sources employ standard
3.5 mm (1/8”) jacks.
There is an additional 3.5 mm input jack
for allowing the radio to accept an external
audio source with two different programmable
sensitivity choices to accommodate high or low
input levels.
Its WiFi connection is supported by both
802.11 b and g, or the user may wish to utilize
a direct LAN (Ethernet) connection (cable
included). The radio measures 11-1/2”W x
4-1/2”W x 7-1/4”D.
As with all digital equipment, future upgrades are inevitable. Any such upgrades for
the WFR-20 may be accessed on line via the
Configure menu item.
❖ Internet radio peculiarities
One annoying characteristic of Internet
Radio is the capricious nature of some program
sources; you may be listening to your favorite
music and suddenly it’s switched to another
piece. Or the buffering of the incoming data is
choked by the connection and you experience
frequent audio dropouts during your favorite
passages as it catches up.
Not all programs announce their program
content, so it may be impossible to identify what
you’re hearing without having access to their
program schedule. And finally, not all channels
are active all the time.
Switching through the memorized stations
is not rapid; it may take anywhere from a few
seconds to nearly half a minute for the radio to
load on each newly-selected channel.
❖ A final note
Internet Radio is just one more staggering achievement in the evolution of
the worldwide web. It offers the potential
to draw divergent civilizations closer
together. And what better way to do it
than with their music and their voices?
MT will continue to bring you Internet
Radio programming information in
regular installments. Stay tuned to the
GlobalNet column!!
The new Sangean WFR-20 WiFi
Internet Radio is in the $300 price class
and is available from MT advertisers.