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Tivoli Reworks NetWorks Radio

New York — Tivoli Audio reworked the networked radio that it unveiled last year but didn’t ship, giving the tabletop device a major cosmetic overhaul and a few new audio upgrades.

The new NetWorks radio, due in June at an everyday $600, is a mono model with alarm functions, furniture-grade wood cabinet, Internet radio tuner and ability to stream music stored on a networked PC. An add-on stereo speaker will be available at about $100. A model with FM tuner and Radio Data System (RDS) will also be available at a slight additional charge.

Like before, it will connect to a broadband modem or PC via wireless Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet. Also like before, it connects via USB to a USB drive or MP3 player to play back stored music, display a menu of the device’s contents and control the devices via the NetWorks radio’s included remote. A firmware upgrade is in the works to deliver iPod control via the USB port.

In a major cosmetic change, the company dumped the more traditional look of the original, which featured a horizontal design with front-panel knobs and buttons. The new model features a vertical design whose front panel lacks knobs or buttons and features only a four-line LCD display. All functions are accessed via a handheld remote, and a handful of functions can be controlled from a few top-panel buttons.

“Because it’s a new category for us, it deserved a new look,” said Tivoli chairman Tom DeVesto.

Technical changes include the addition of a 45-second “super buffer” that users can select if an Internet station suffers from dropouts. The new model also increases the size of the full-range speaker to 3.5 inches from 3 inches to boost output. In another change, the new device is available in versions with or without terrestrial FM tuner.

Like it predecessor, the new NetWorks will stream up to 20,000 free Internet radio stations, including multicasting HD-Radio stations, from around the world without a networked PC being turned on. Users can search for Internet stations by country, genre, or call letters. Internet stations can be streamed in MP3, WMA and Real Audio formats. Potential firmware upgrades could enable the radio to stream subscription music services such as Sirius Internet Radio as well as free interactive music services, the company said.

When networked with a PC, the radio streams MP3 and unprotected WMA files from a PC when the PC’s Media Share function is activated. Potential firmware upgrades include streaming of PC-stored Real files and unprotected AAC files. Multiple NetWorks radios can simultaneously access different songs from a PC, the company added.

To connect to a password-protected Wi-Fi network, users need enter their password only once to connect every time the radio is turned on in the future.

The radio can also be expanded with an optional subwoofer and CD player currently in the Tivoli line at $159 and $299, respectively.