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Internet Clock Radio Unveiled By Roku

Roku, the maker of networked media and music players, has developed the first clock radio that wakes consumers up by playing Internet radio stations and networked-PC music files.

The $349-suggested SoundBridge Radio, due in stores in November, is the company’s first networked player with built-in amplification, speakers, AM/FM tuner, memory card slot (for SD/MMC cards) and alarm clock, said founder/CEO Anthony Wood. It features an Ethernet port and built-in wireless 802.11b to stream radio stations through a networked broadband modem and stream music files residing on a networked PC. A 16MB RAM buffer eliminates dropouts, the company said.

The radio is preloaded with 50 WMA and MP3 Internet-station URLs, 18 of which are preloaded into presets. Consumers can use their PC to expand the device’s Internet-station selection with the URL of any MP3 or WMA station that they want. The radio is also compatible with subscription streaming services.

When networked to a PC, the device streams the PC-based music files in the MP3, protected and unprotected WMA, unprotected AAC, WAV and AIFF formats. PC-based songs can be selected by title, artist, genre or playlist. The radio also streams subscription-based, or “rented,” music downloads.

In each house, multiple SoundBridge Radios can be networked to simultaneously stream a different Internet station or PC-based music file, Wood said. If the radios are networked by wired Ethernet, the number of simultaneous Internet-radio streams is limited only by the bandwidth limits of a home’s broadband service. If a wireless 802.11b connection is used, the limit is based on 802.11b’s bandwidth limit. Internet stations usually max out at 64Kbps, Wood said.

Multiple PC-based files can be streamed up to the limit of the PC’s music-management application. The radio is compatible with the MusicMatch and iTunes apps, the latter limiting PC-based streams to five at a time, Wood said.

On the audio side, the radio features 60-watt RMS Class D amplifier, two satellite speakers, and a ported woofer. The speaker complement was designed by a/d/s/ founder Godehard Guenther.

Other features include atomic clock, IR remote and light-sensing vacuum-fluorescent display.