Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

Radios (Including Internet Radio) Tag Archive


July 11, 2010 • Reviews

Review: iLuv iMM178 Vibe Plus- Dual Alarm Clock w/Bed Speaker Shaker for iPhone


iPhone/iPod speaker docks are multiplying around my home and at the office. And for good reason. Since I’m not an audiophile the music that is pumped out of a relatively inexpensive speaker dock is usually just fine for me. But while a simple speaker dock is fine for my office (I use a bluetooth system that I love… more on that another time) in my bedroom I want something that also includes an alarm clock.

The other day I took a look at one that offers good sound. It costs $150, sounds good but isn’t compatible with iPhone due to a lack of GSM shielding. Today let’s look at the iMM178 Vibe Plus Dual Alarm Clock from iLuv. At just $100 (and available for significantly less if you shop around) it offers some impressive features and works with iPods and iPhones.


From iLuv

iLuv’s innovative iMM178 Vibe Plus Dual Alarm Clock makes waking up easier and more enjoyable. Featuring a unique bed shaker with speaker that slips under a pillow, the Vibe Plus awakens even the deepest sleeper with a gentle vibration and the music of an iPod or iPhone, which plays though the shaker’s integrated speaker. Enjoy rich, resonant sound from the Vibe Plus’ powerful, built-in speakers and advanced acoustic engineering. Choose from multiple alarm clock settings that offer a wide range of choices in music, alarms, and vibration alerts for a comfortable and reliable sleep and wake experience. The Vibe Plus’ jumbo screen display features a midnight black background with blue pixelated font and icons, which makes this dock extremely user-friendly and intuitive.

Because the sound of a typical alarm can often be unpleasant or ineffective, the Vibe Plus offers a wide variety of different alarms so you can start your day off right. It features a speaker-shaker that can be placed beside you in bed or underneath your pillow as you sleep. The shaker’s fully integrated speaker plays the music of your iPhone or iPod or alarm sounds. And to make sure that you don’t oversleep, the speaker-shaker provides an adjustable volume switch that allows the user to select either a low, medium, or high intensity. On the rear-side of the Vibe Plus, there is also a convenient adjustable switch where the speaker output can be varied from either the main unit speaker, the main unit speaker and the speaker-shaker, or the speaker-shaker itself. Thus, finding the perfect balance of being shaken and stirred is so easy.



· Digital dual alarm clock with universal iPod dock

· Plays and charges your iPhone or iPod

· Treble/ Bass control

· 7 selectable unique buzzer alarm sounds

· 7-5-2 (Everyday, weekdays, weekends) alarm

· Bed shaker vibrates a bed or a pillow to wake up the heaviest sleepers

· Speaker integrated Bed shaker for personal listening

· Time Sync function synchronizes time from your iPhone and iPod

· Wake to iPhone or iPod, selectable alarm should, FM radio, buzzer, and /or bed shaker

· Sleep to iPhone or iPod, FM radio, and bed shaker speaker

· Programmable presets for up to 8 FM radio stations

My Thoughts

This system has a fairly classic clock radio look to it. From the front you can’t tell that it is made to work with a host of Apple’s music devices. A quick look at the top, however, and it is clear that this is designed to work hand in hand with an iPhone or iPod. (Speaking of which, I was pleased to find that it works with all generations of iPod touch AND all generations of the iPhone- including the iPhone 4!)

The unit is light but is solidly built with no noticeable give in the plastic at any point on the top, sides or bottom. The black plastic has a mat finish so it doesn’t show of fingerprints. The silver trim looks great from a distance and okay close up. It certainly does not feel like a unit you can get for just $75 on Amazon.


The top of the unit has a host of controls. There are a lot of them but fortunately they are clearly labeled. On the left is a silver ring for adjusting the volume and choosing the mode (ie iPod or FM- there is no AM radio). The ring on the right does nothing when you are using the iPod/iPhone but does scroll through and select radio stations when you are using that mode. The silver rings are a bit on the smooth side so, at times, I had a difficult time knowing if I was actually moving the ring or just sliding my finger over it. That leads me to my first real criticism of the unit– if it came with a remote I suspect I would NEVER use the silver circles to change the volume or station. Alas it does not.

Between the silver circles is the control panel and the dock for the iPod/iPhone. It is worth noting that all generations of iPhone and iPods with a dock connector are charged when docked.


The control panel has numerous buttons. Thankfully they are well labeled and spread out enough that they are easy to use once you become familiar with it. Again however, I wish a remote came with it.

The entire front of the control panel is one big Snooze button– dangerous if you are prone to hitting snooze repeatedly. Fortunately the clock is designed for getting you up and going. As the company explains

The convenient programmable Vibe Plus lets you select specific days of the week for activation: everyday, weekdays, or just weekends.

As someone whose schedule varies to a large degree from day to day DURING the week but usually remains the same from week to week I love this feature. In addition, because it has two alarms built into it I am able to set one alarm for hour X and the other for hour X + 15 minutes with each having a different sound. That’s a sure way to make sure I get up!

Speaking of sounds, the iMM178 offers a wide range of sound to get you up and going. You can use the music on your iDevice, use the FM radio or use one of the seven alarm sounds built into it. These include a buzzer, rooster, train horn, xylophone, telephone ring, horse race (Reveille), or a cuckoo clock.

It is worth noting that the Vibe Plus’ clock automatically synchronizes with the time from the iDevice. That means there is no more fussing to set the clock!! And finally, if you are sensitive to light you will find it reassuring to know that the digital display has a 10-step dimmer control.


The iMM178 has

jAura acoustic speaker technology, the Vibe Plus delivers robust, deep bass sound with clear, crisp treble notes. And with a treble and bass control right at your fingertips, your iPhone or iPod playlist never sounded so good.

The translates to the fact that speakers not only shoot forward but additional sound is pushed out the back through openings that are lined up with the speakers. The result is sound that is good… good but not great.


A close-up of the back reveals the power input, the attached FM antenna and two additional elements that really make this unit stand out. On the far right is the input for the “Bed Shaker”. The bed shaker is a separate speaker that can play music AND vibrate. If you place it under your pillow the shaker will let you go to sleep listening to music (this would never work in my home since Elana would be up in five seconds flat if I had even the softest music playing) and can be used to direct sound to you when the alarm goes off. In addition, the shaker has a vibrating feature that, if the music or alarm isn’t enough to rouse you, should be more than enough to get you going.

Next to the input for the bed shaker is the control that lets you choose where sound comes from– only the base unit, only the bed shaker or both. It is a cool feature that you really have to try to appreciate!!


The bottom of the unit has door that reveals a space for the AA batteries that function as a back up in case the power goes out. Seriously, this is a well equipped and thoughtfully designed unit, especially for the price.


This is a closeup of the “bed shaker”. It makes sound… and shakes. The sound isn’t great but it is more than enough to serve its purpose.


And you can choose from low, medium or high volume… even though the high volume isn’t all that loud.

At first I though this bed shaker portion of the unit was a gimmick but after trying it I must admit that I think it is a cool feature. If you are a super heavy sleeper or your partner is a sound enough sleeper that you can you play music as you fall asleep it is quite attractive.

As I have noted along the way, the iMM178 is packed with features and works quite well as a bedside clock radio. It works with all iPhones and most iPods, charges them while docked and will play music from Pandora, Slacker or Rhapsody through the iDevice. It sounds good but will not be taking any “home audio” awards home. Then again, that’s not the purpose of this clock radio. As a clock radio it is excellent and at a max of $100 I think it is a winner.

The iLuv iMM178 Vibe Plus- Dual Alarm Clock w/Bed Speaker Shaker for iPhone can be ordered directly from the iLuv website . It is currently available through Amazon for $70.60.

MSRP: $99.99

What I Like: Plays music from most every iDevice while also charging them, has dual alarms, the bed shaker feature is neat and may be quite useful to some, nicely priced

What Needs Improvement: Does not come with a remote, sound maxes out at a fairly low level, sound quality is okay but not great

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May 12, 2010 • Reviews

The Logitech Squeezebox Radio Review

Judie: Last year Julie Strietelmeier and I took a look at the Logitech Squeezebox Boom, both here and on The Gadgeteer, and our general consensus was that we both enjoyed using it. As a matter of fact, I liked using mine so much that I eventually sprung for a streaming Sirius subscription as well as a Pandora Premium membership. I wrote about the Logitech Squeezebox Radio when it was first announced, mentioning its compact size, a 2.4″ color display, Facebook connectivity, and a seven-day alarm clock. Although I put in a request for a review unit, I didn’t hear anything for months and I had basically forgotten about it. And then one day, there it was sitting on my front porch … waiting.

Julie: I actually ended up giving my Squeezebox Boom away. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy using it, but that I went through a gadget cleansing phase last year to clear out Gadgeteer HQ and it was one of the items that I felt I could live with out. Funny thing is that as soon as I got rid of it, I missed it. 😉 So I was super happy when the Squeezebox Radio showed up unannounced on my door step.

Judie: Now there’s an instance of true serendipity. 😉

Hardware Specifications

Audio formats: MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, Apple Lossless (other formats supported through transcoding, some formats may require additional software installation)
Internet radio: Support for MP3, Ogg Vorbis, AAC and WMA formatted Internet radio streams
Wireless interface: 802.11g (802.11n and 802.11b compatible), Supports WPA Personal, WPA2-AES, and 64/128-bit WEP encryption
Ethernet interface: Connects to any 10/100 Mbps Ethernet network (with Auto MDX)
Display: 6.1-cm (2.4-inch) 24-bit colour LCD (Ambient light sensor to adjust display brightness according to environment)
Speakers and amplifier: ¾-inch high-definition, soft-dome tweeter and 3-inch high-power, long-throw woofer, Bi-amplified class D design with digital electronic crossover
Dimensions (H x W x D): 13 cm (5.12 inches) by 22 cm (8.66 inches) by 8.5 cm (5.04 inches)

Judie: Included in the box are the WiFi Internet radio, power adapter with removable plug, a 3.5mm line-in cord, and a quick start guide. Software for the device can be downloaded directly from Logitech. Like the Squeezebox Boom we previously reviewed, the Squeezebox Radio is composed of shiny, fingerprint loving black plastic. A large rubberized knob dominates the front of the radio, and there are six radio preset buttons on either side of the 2.4″ screen.

Julie: In addition to the preset buttons, there are 9 other buttons and a knob that control all the radio features. The buttons are rubberized and have good tactile feedback. Unlike the Squeezebox Boom, the Squeezebox Radio does not include a remote.

The speaker grill on the front has a Black knit material over it. I would prefer that it had a metal grill, but it’s not a big deal as long as you don’t accidentally snag it.

Judie: A handle is built into the back of the radio, which makes it easy to pick up and move when you want to place it somewhere else. Not shown is the battery compartment on the underside; you can install an optional rechargeable battery pack ($49.99) which also includes a remote control. Those of us who wind up using this as a bedside alarm clock will appreciate the battery pack option.

A cool thing I found is that the same infrared remote which works with the Logitech Boom will also control the Radio without changing any settings or … doing anything, really; it just automagically works.

Julie: Darn it! I want a remote for mine 😉

The build quality of this device (as well as all Logitech products that I’ve reviewed) is first class. This little radio has a small footprint, but feels really sturdy. To me it almost looks kind of retro, which I think is kind of cool.

Judie: And I agree with you about the retro flavor and sturdiness of the Squeezebox. I also like that it has a nice weight to it; it feels substantial without being ridiculously heavy; you can even get it in bright shiny red if black is too utilitarian for you.

But to get back on topic …

There’s are power and Ethernet ports on the back, but the Ethernet port is only necessary if you do not have a wireless network in the location where you’ll be using the Squeezebox.

Julie: There’s a line-in jack so that you can use the Squeezebox Radio as an external speaker for other digital music players. There’s also a headphone jack on the right side. You won’t be using headphones with this radio though, because the built-in speaker does a really good job considering its size.

Judie: When you first tun on the Squeezebox Radio, you’ll be asked to select your language before instructions appear for connecting to your network. Twisting the large knob allows you to change selections, and pressing the large knob selects your choices. There is a clever scrolling alphanumeric keypad which will appear when it is time to enter the wireless network security key. After the key has been entered, pressing the Play button will begin the connection. Most likely, the first thing that you will see after that is news of a software update. At this writing, the current version is 7.5.0 r8673.

Once you’ve downloaded any updates, you can either create a Squeezebox account or sign into your current account. Again you’ll use the knob to select and enter your email address and password, followed by pressing the Play button to continue on.

Julie: After the initial setup has finished, you will use the main knob and the back button to scroll backwards and forwards through the various menus. The main menu is a portal to your music library on your computer (this requires that you install server software on your computer), internet radio and the apps you have installed (Pandora, Slacker Radio, Facebook, etc). Spin the knob to select the menu you want to access and then press the knob in to go into that menu. Pressing the back button goes back one menu level. If you ever want to go back to the home menu (shown below), you can just press the Home button. Easy.

Judie: You can control what’s playing on the Squeezebox Radio directly from the device itself, but you can also use the Squeezebox Remote software to control what’s played from your computer — even if it’s located way across the house; you just have to be on the same WiFi network. Squeezebox software is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.

As Julie mentioned, once signed in to MySqueezebox you can select various “Apps” to install including Facebook (to view your news stream, photos, or to publish what you are listening to), Flickr (for displaying your photos), Sirius, Pandora, Rhapsody and other internet radio stations – both free and subscription based.

Julie: My fave apps are Pandora and Slacker Radio. But I also enjoy surfing through all the different internet radio genres and stations. The Squeezebox Radio doesn’t include an FM tuner to listen to regular terrestrial radio, but if your local stations also stream, you can find and listen to them through the Squeezebox. I love this feature.

Judie: I really like the little color screen and the way that it shows album art, photos or Facebook news stream when songs are playing. The screen is small and it’s not going to replace a full-size digital picture frame or browser, but it’s a neat feature. The time always displays at the bottom, along with a wireless signal indicator.

Julie: I agree that the LCD is a great feature. Even though it’s small, it’s bright and easy to read. I like that it shows the song’s title, artist and album info. It has helped me to find quite a few new favorite artists since I began using the Squeezebox.

Judie: When you aren’t using the radio, a default screen which shows the time, day and date will display. These are set automatically over the network, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Actually the phrase “you don’t need to worry about a thing” applies to most everything about the Squeezebox Radio. It’s extremely easy to set up, and even over my less than stellar satellite internet connection, it works well.

Julie: I agree, this product is super easy to use and I haven’t noticed any issues with buffering using the Squeezebox with my broadband connection. I’ve been frustrated in the past with other internet radio devices pausing in the middle of songs or not being able to connect to various stations. I won’t say that I haven’t had this happen (station connection issues) once or twice with the Squeezebox, but it has been rare.

Judie: I like the Radio’s alarm clock feature because it not only allows you to set up to seven different alarms for seven different days, you can also chose what you would like to be awakened to. The obvious music playlist choices are there, but so are musical sounds, natural sounds, and sound effects. I like the alarm clock’s features so much that I’ve put the Squeezebox Radio in our bedroom; it’s replaced my iPhone on the mornings when I need an alarm.

Julie: I’m using the Squeezebox Radio as my office clock. The only thing I wish was that there were different clock styles to choose from instead of just white on black. But I’m being picky…

Judie: Oh, I totally agree! With all the great personalization features, the black & white clock just seems so … blah! But it is a minor quibble when everything else about the device is really good. Speaking of which — I have been very impressed with the sound from those little 3″ woofers! The Squeezebox Radio puts out great sound that can easily fill a room; the treble is not tinny, and the bass isn’t feeble. It sounds very rich and like it’s coming from a larger system.

Julie: I like everything about the Squeezebox Radio. It’s easy to use and sounds great. I really don’t have any complaints other than the fact that they didn’t throw in a remote! 😉 So it gets two thumbs up from me, and this time I’m not giving it away!

The Logitech Squeezebox Radio is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers.

MSRP: Starts at $199.99; available in black or red

What I Like: Easy to set up and easy to operate; allows you to stream free and paid channel audio wirelessly over your home WiFi network; the 2.4″ color screen displays album art, Flickr or Facebook photos, your Facebook news stream, or other items; the Squeezebox Radio is solidly built, looks great and sounds great, too

What Needs Improvement: It would be great if there were a way to change the colors or otherwise jazz up the boring black & white clock screen

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April 29, 2010 • Reviews

Rhapsody Just Got Me Back As a Customer… Rhapsody For iPhone Review


I used to have a subscription to Rhapsody. At the time I was using a Creative Zen music player. (It was in the days when my motto was “Anything But Apple’s Products”. It seems like a lifetime ago.) The deal the company offered wasn’t bad. For $10 or $15 a month I could listen to all the music I wanted. Sure I was renting the music and all of it would (and did) disappear if and when I decided to cancel my subscription. Still, when I thought about wanting to try a wide range of music and transfer it from my computer (a Tablet PC) to my mp3 player it was the best option out there. The problem was… the service was a mess. The song selection was good but not great. The transfer process was great except when it didn’t work. And the DRM process ended up having me out and about with my music unavailable because the month of “permissions” has ended and I needed to reconnect to a computer to renew access. That was a HUGE problem when it happened at the beginning of a two week vacation and left me without any music. I canceled my subscription.

Well Rhapsody is back on the map and the service is now offering an iPhone app that allows you to access a huge library of music of over 9 million songs. For a monthly fee of $10 a month (after a 7 day trial) the service lets you grab as much music from your library on the go and play it on your iDevice.


The subscription gives you access to the Rhapsody service via one iDevice and their desktop music player. Streaming music requires an active data connection (WiFi OR cellular) but a recent update to the iPhone app lets you take playlists of music offline. Lets take a look…


When you first start the iPhone app you will be asked for your account information. This will only happen the first time. You can also sign up for the trial right from the app which is a nice feature.

When you start the app you might choose to begin on the “My Library” page. This page lets select Artists, Albums, Playlists or Rhapsody Radio. Obviously this page will be more useful once you have begun adding music to your account. That’s where the “Search” window comes in mighty handy.


After that you probably want to start at the search window. You can search by Artist, Album or Track. It is important to note that while the color variation of the tab is relatively minor you need to check off which you are searching for in order to get the proper results.


For the most part the search process is quick and accurate. I did, however, find a few times when I was on 3G and the search kept going… and going… and going. Closing down the app and reopening it fixed the issue.

One of the ways in which Rhapsody makes sense for me is in the area of “rebuilding” my back catalog of music. From high school through college I bought a ton of albums. Many I bought new but quite a few were British imports and other assorted lightly used LPs. It was a large collection that went into storage in my parent’s basement when I entered graduate school. Then they had a flood… LP collection over. Everything was ruined, and while I have amassed a significant collection since then I never got to replacing all of my albums, especially some of the classic rock LPs. With Rhapsody I’m getting reintroduced to many of them again. Among the reunions… Boston.


The Rhapsody app lets me search their music by Album, by Top Track, through a “sampler” of their music that is selected by the service automatically, and more.


Tapping at the top of the screen lets me see a brief biography of the band… oh the memories.


I have found the service to do a pretty good job of amassing the key albums for most of the singers and bands I’ve looked for. I could immediately listen to their first, self-titled, album (good!), their second album, Don’t Look Back (better) or their third album, Third Stage, (thanks but no).


If I want to quickly listen to their top hits I could choose their “Top Tracks”. This didn’t work for me, as their track “Amanda” showed up on it and the song is not a favorite. (understatement)


I could do the “Artist Sampler” which provides a mix of tunes selected by Rhapsody but I ran into the “Amanda-factor” again.


So I opted to go the album route. First I cued up their first album… a classic. The cover art brought back some great memories. (The music was one of the only good things in 1978… my 7th grade year… so I have especially fond memories…)


And there they were… all the tracks from the first release from Boston.


I haven’t listened to the album in years, but all the lyrics came back immediately. That the power of music I guess… it never really leaves you. All the same, I do wish the lyrics popped up when listening to tracks. They don’t.


The great thing about the Rhapsody app is that you can add tracks to your cue and then save them as a playlist. For the most part my “Playlists” have been songs and albums from individual bands. For example I created a playlist of Enigma’s tracks and now have a single playlist with dozens and dozens of their songs. I did the same with Boston’s first two albums.


You can name the playlist anything you like and, if you make a mistake or change your mind easily go back and change it.


The new version even lets you download playlists for offline listening. It is a great feature and the one that makes the app, and Rhapsody, a truly useful option for music listening.


The options for downloading playlists or managing/renaming them is simple and clear. The company obviously put a lot of thought into making the app as user-friendly as possible.


In fact, the “settings” screen doesn’t come much less complicated than the one offers by Rhapsody.


Over WiFi the download process is quite fast.


After that you can go back and tweak it in a variety of ways. In all I’m finding Rhapsody to be a great way to ret back to some of my musical roots… and boy is there some awesome music from the 70s and 80s!

There is another arena in which Rhapsody excels… trying out music you might not otherwise get to know.

Both iTunes and Amazon MP3 let you “sample” songs. The problem is, sometimes (often) 30 seconds isn’t enough time to really decide if a track is for you or not. Rhapsody takes this “music sample” approach to the extreme and lets you download new albums with no additional monetary risk.

For example…


When it comes to casual listening one of my favorite bands is Zero 7 (except their train wreck of a last album called Yeah Ghost!- garbage… total garbage.) I first heard Zero 7 on the soundtrack to Garden State and it has since changes my listening habits by introducing me to a wide range of Trip-hop and down tempo artists. I’m still new to the genre so there are many performers I don’t yet know. That’s where Rhapsody comes in handy.


I can simply select the “Related Artists” option and see other artists I might also like.


I can see similar artists…


or the artists who influenced the band’s style and sound.


I can also see “Related Projects”. In this case, Zero 7 has always had a revolving door of singers. One of them was a performer names Sia. A tap on her name and all her albums are available to cue, listen and, if I like them, download.


If you jump over to the desktop player you can see even more information. For example, the band Massive Attack is listed as a related artist and Rhapsody makes 24 albums and a total of 370 tracks available for the $10 monthly subscription.

In all the app works great is a superb option if you want access to a lot of music. This is especially the case if you want to take an “album approach” (ie download entire albums instead of selected tracks) but don’t feel like spending a ton of money to build a library.


I easily buy an album a month. For the same $10 I was grab as much music as I want. I can download entire albums, or catalogues of songs from artists I would not otherwise listen to and I can do so at no risk since the monthly fee is the same whether I download one album or one hundred. Sure, if and when I cancel my subscription I will love access to all of these track but in the meantime I’ll have had the opportunity to enjoy a larger and wider array of music for the price on just on album a month.

Some will have a philosophical issue with the model that has you “rent” music. That is why the Zune Pass is so appealing- it lets you “rent” your music but also own a number of the rented tracks each month. While I wish Rhapsody also offered the option to keep a number of tracks each month it is nice to see one aspect of the Zune Pass now available for the iPhone and iPod touch. You can also get a subscription to Pandora or Slacker Radio for less but the Rhapsody approach gives you radio stations AND much more control over what you listen to whenever you want. In fact, that’s really how I would look at Rhapsody- as a Slacker/Pandora competitor. It is significantly more expensive per month but it gives you so much more in the process.

Another downside is the fact that, currently you can only have one device on the account at a time. I understand that this is part of their licensing agreement to give access to the music but I would like to see at least two devices available on an account at a time since many of us now have an iPhone and a second iDevice.

What I Like-

Good music selection, stable, relatively fast iPhone app, ability to take music offline, can listen to preset radio, artists stations or music you select

What Needs Improvement-

Only one device at a time per account, no “keep 5-10 tracks a month” like the Zune Pass, app has locked on me once or twice, radio stations can be slow to load.

You can grab the app HERE or check our the Rhapsody site HERE.

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April 28, 2010 • Reviews

Review: Etón FR360 Emergency Preparedness Digital Radio

It is starting to be that time of year.  What do I mean?  Thunderstorm and Tornado Season that’s what I mean.  That is followed by the Hurricane season.  The best thing to do to st?ay safe dur?ing this season is to take time to prepare now before the worst happens.  One device that will help you keep informed during a storm is a radio.  If you have a portable radio, one problem you always have is batteries not being charged when you need it or you only have the radio on your stereo.  If that’s you, then you should pickup the Etón Solarlink FR360 Emergency Preparedness Radio.

The FR360 has the most power options of any radio I currently have in the house.  You can power it from AAA Batteries or the built in NiMH battery.  That NiMH battery can be charged by the built in dynamo, the solar panel in the handle or the AC input on the back with a optional AC adapter also sold by Etón.  No matter what your power situation is, you can keep informed about the weather.

To charge with the dynamo, press the “Dyn/Sol” button and start cranking.  Ninety seconds of cranking will get you 15 minutes of radio.

To charge with the solar cell, press the “Dyn/Sol” button and sit int he sun.  You can get a a full charge in about 10 hours.  That is if you get 10 hours of sun!

Finally, if you have the optional AC adapter, the radio will be charged in about 6 hours.

This radio has AM/FM and every NOAA Weather Radio frequency in America (of which there are 7 frequencies in use).  The antenna on the back only needs to be extended during FM and weatherband use.

The weatherband has a unique feature.  First, tune to the appropriate frequency for your area and then press the alert button and the radio will turn off and go into alert mode.  Whenever a alert comes across your NOAA station, it will turn on so you can hear the latest warning.  The only downside to this feature is that it does not support SAME which stands for Specific Area Message Encoding.  SAME prevents your radio from going off for a county that your station serves that isn’t the one you live in.  Because the FR360 doesn’t support this, you can be woken up when an alert comes in for another area.

There’s also a AUX input on the back.  This can be used to turn the FR360 into a speaker for your iPod, MP3 Player or any device that takes a 1/8 inch headphone cable.  Cable not included.

The FR360 would be handy enough if it was just a radio, but it also has a integrated LED flashlight that has 2 modes.  One mode uses 4 white LED’s and is just a regular LED flashlight.  The other mode uses one red LED and flashes when it’s on.

The FR360 also can be used to charge your cell phone if it can be charged via a USB port.  Just plug your USB cable in, press the “Cell” button and turn the crank to get some juice in your phone to make that emergency phone call.  Be prepared to crank a while though.  Etón says that 3 minutes worth of cranking will get you one emergency phone call.

The Etón FR360 Solarlink also has an American Red Cross logo on it.  One dollar of every FR360 purchase goes to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund.

The Etón FR360 Solarlink Emergency Preparedness Radio is something everyone should buy.  You will always have a radio to stay informed during severe weather.  Plus you can always have a radio with you on your camping trips, while fishing, at a picnic or in your car’s emergency kit.  I plan on taking this on every scout camping trip this summer.

The Etón FR360 Solarlink Emergency Preparedness Radio is only $50.00 on  It’s 50 dollars well worth it if you ask me.

UPDATE: Etón has let me know that the FR600 Solarlink radio supports SAME for NOAA weather radio.  It is only $80 dollars and has all of the same features of the FR360 as well as a siren.

What I like: Multiple power options.  Decent receiver.  I also like the flashlight.

What needs improvement: They should throw in the AC Adapter for free.

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March 23, 2010 • Editorials

Two Reasons I Hate the Slacker / Pandora / etc Internet Radio Apps

As if by amazing serendipity, I had just started writing this when I read Carly Z’s “Adventures in Internet Radio” talking about traveling with Pandora and Slacker. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to love these apps! Loads of music, tons of choices, affinity selection with ‘learning’ system that allows you to help the apps do their job better. In fact, since before Christmas not a week has gone by that we haven’t used either Slacker or Pandora on either my Droid or iPod Touch to play music for the whole family, and when my younger son bought himself an iPod Touch those apps were amongst the first he added. But over the last week two categories of problems with those services have really frustrated my family.

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March 22, 2010 • Editorials

Adventures in Internet Radio!


Driving to Maine from New Jersey is a looooong drive. Even breaking it up with a stop in Boston for a few days, we quickly ran through an audiobook and couldn’t find a decent radio station on the drive. Luckily, I had my Droid handy, and we gave Pandora and Slacker a spin.

Slacker…I want to like it, I really do. But on the free version, it doesn’t seem to hold onto a music stream well. It gets four or five songs in, and then seems to be stuck, requiring the app to be exited and restarted. It’s a huge pain, especially while driving. If it were the best option available, I’d probably pay for the premium version and cache the stations I like, but it’s not the only game in town. I couldn’t get it working well for me in New Jersey, so I didn’t bother to test it when I was up in New England.

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March 7, 2010 • Reviews

Spark Radio – iPhone Application Review

$6 for an Internet radio application? That’s crazy, right? That’s exactly what I thought when I went to check out the Spark Radio app. I thought the pricing on it was absolutely ridiculous. After all, you can get a host of different Internet radio applications for free. You can use Pandora or Slacker Radio without paying a penny. And the list goes on and on. So why is it that you should spend $6 up front to get this application?

It’s actually quite reasonable question. And there is a reasonable answer…

I was given a review copy of the application (so I didn’t pay the $6 to get it) and I was rather skeptical at first. It is a well done app but still… $6?? But the more I use the application the more I realize that they’ve done a fabulous job with this particular application and it actually could be worth the money.

Let’s take a look…

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October 20, 2009 • News

Wunder Radio for BlackBerry is released

wunder radio wjmf.jpg

One of my favorite applications for iPhone is Wunder Radio (iTunes / review) . In addition to receiving radio stations both locally and world wide, police scanners, weather radio and more – the iPhone application allows me to listen to Sirius Satellite radio while away from my desktop computer. I’ve been waiting eagerly for Wunder Radio to appear on the BlackBerry and today it’s available in the BlackBerry App World for $9.99. Unfortunately the version that’s available only works on BlackBerry Bold and Curve. A version will be available later for the Tour and Storm. Also regrettably missing from the new BlackBerry version is the ability to listen to Sirius Satellite radio. Continue Reading

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September 15, 2009 • Reviews

Review: WunderRadio for iPhone


The Internet is proving to be an interesting outlet for traditional, commercial radio. Many programs like iTunes, offer streams from various radio stations.

WunderRadio is from the Weather Underground folk, and it brings you literally thousands of radio stations and streams from around the world.  Let’s take a closer look!

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September 5, 2009 • Reviews

MYINE Ira Internet Radio – Review


Let me tell you about Elana’s radio. (Yup, that’s it in the clip.)

Elana cooks… a lot! and when she does she listens to the radio. Sometimes she listens to music, but often she chooses talk radio. And she listens to it on an old-style Sony radio. The thing hasn’t changed since I was a kid. It has one speaker and sounds… well… it sounds horrible.

I have asked Elana if she wanted me to set it up so her MacBook could drive speakers in the kitchen, but she didn’t want the hassle or expense. So for YEARS I have heard this static-filled, terrible sounding radio on a daily basis.

Fortunately the good folks at MYINE were kind enough to send me an IRA Internet Radio to review. And Elana was finally willing to consider coming into the new century.

Let’s take a look.

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July 13, 2009 • Reviews

Slacker G2 Player Flash Review

slacker g2 player.jpg

Slacker is a web based music service that offers both a free and paid version. The Slacker clients stream music via the web as well as many smartphones. I’ve subscribed for about 6 months because the paid version of Slacker allows me to skip as many songs as I would like while listening to the service. What I really like about the paid version is that you can use a special Slacker MP3 player to store music for when you’re on the go and not connected to the web UPDATE: Both the free and paid versions allow you to connect a Slacker portable player – a paid account gives unlimited skips and no commercials. The newest model of the player – Slacker G2 – is available in both 4 GB (25 music stations) and 8 GB (40 music stations). My friend Nan Palmero has been testing the G2 and has these observations.

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January 31, 2009 • Reviews

Logitech Squeezebox Boom Review

Back when Judie was a fixture The Gadgeteer, she and I would occasionally write dually reviews. This was a term we coined that basically consisted of a review where we would chat back and forth about the product in question. Today we’re going to revive that fun format, with a review of the Squeezebox Boom Network Music Player from Logitech.

My comments will be in regular Black text, while Judie’s will be in Blue italics.

I have a bit of experience with the Squeezebox as I had the opportunity to review the previous two versions of this device. The first one was the SLIMP3 Network MP3 player and the newer one was also named the Squeezebox. This was before Logitech bought the company Slim Devices. The main difference between the new Squeezebox Boom and the older units is that this new one has built-in speakers, making it way more convenient.


Unlike Julie, I had not used a previous Squeezebox incarnation, and the whole “network music player” genre was slightly foreign to me – unless you count streaming iTunes from one laptop to another over a home network. I guess it’s all basically the same principle though, right? Except doing things this way doesn’t require you to have two laptops, and it sounds much better; but I digress…

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