By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The fledgling tabletop Internet radio market will gain another competitor with the mid-November shipment of Sangean's first model, which will retail for about $299.
The Sangean WFR-20 Wi-Fi Internet radio will join tabletop models from Roku, Com One and a pair of announced Tivoli models due in the first quarter of 2008. Models are also available in the United States from Revo, Acoustic Energy and Tangent. A growing number of A/V receivers and shelf systems also incorporate Internet-radio streaming.
Sangean's model will be offered by retailers such as J&R Music and Fry's Electronics, e-tailors like Crutchfield and Amazon and others, said sales and marketing manager Clayton Scott. It will be the first of several Internet radios that Sangean plans to offer at an unspecified date.
The piano-black WFR-20 lacks AM/FM tuner but features built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Ethernet port to stream music directly from the Web through a networked broadband modem. Universal plug-and-play (UPnP) enables it to stream DRM-free music from a networked Windows Shares PC or UPNP server.
The radio tunes into a database website run by U.K.-based Reciva, which builds Internet-radio components, to offer direct access to more than 6,000 Internet radio stations and 21,242 on-demand streams in 60 genres from 250 locations, Sangean said. Consumers can add to the list by using a PC to search for stations, then upload the URLs into a “My Stations” folder on Reciva's site.
The device plays music in the MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, AIFF, FLAC and REAL formats. Reciva claims to provide the only Internet radio components that support RealAudio, said to account for 40 percent of online broadcasts.
The WR-20 features two full-range speakers, 2x5-watt amplifier, three-line display, clock radio functions, sleep timer, four alarm times, auxiliary input for MP3 players, line out, headphone jack and operation from a single rotary control or remote control.
Competing products include Roku's $299 Wi-Fi-equipped AM/FM/Internet clock radio, which also streams PC-stored music, and Com One's $249 AC/DC model without AM/FM or ability to stream from a PC.
Tivoli Audio unveiled its first two network-connected radios in the summer and planned late-fall shipments at a price that wasn't announced. Production has now been delayed until the first quarter.
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