Monday, 17 October 2011

TuneIn radio app

It has been a very long while since I ever thought about buying one of those Internet wifi radios. The idea appealed to me a lot. As far as I can remember, I had been playing around with short-wave radios, dialing in to all sorts of radio transmissions from across the world, whatever I could like audible on the radio waves. I wasn't into it in any big way, though. More like dabbling with this stuff. And my radio-listening hobby began most probably from my primary school days.

The very first transistor radio in my possession - actually, bought by my father - was this Hitachi WH-817. My first window to the world. Practically slept with it. With the adjustable lever on the front, I could switch from medium wave to short wave. It's long been spoilt and thrown away but I saw the exact same model in a museum in Sitiawan last year, still with its original leather case. So you can imagine my excitement. Wow, wow, wow.

This was my favourite transistor: the Sony ICF-7600D which I bought in Singapore. The price then was a cheap SGD100 and at that time in the mid-80s, the Malaysian Ringgit was still at near parity with the Singapore Dollar. It's still in good working condition but where I'm living right now, I shall need a good external antenna to pull in any decent signal. All things considered, the Internet radio would be a logical progression for me in this modern age. Many radio stations have turned to streaming and I would been able to pick up their radio streams easily.

How long has it been since I was eyeing a wifi radio to buy? I think it must have been at least two years. There were a few models that I was drooling a lot after, in particular the Philips Streamium MCi298 and the Logitech Squeezebox Boom (and later, the Touch).

The Streamium was supposed to be launched in Malaysia but despite all the hoo-haa and hype on their webpage, the model was never released locally at all. After a while, all traces of information on their webpage were removed. I tried to get in touch with the Philips office but always, I would hit a blank. Moreover, there was nobody replying to their customer service emails. Well, nobody answered my emails anyway.

Disgusted with the lack of information and response from Philips Malaysia, my attention turned to the Boom. I happened to be in Singapore and friends directed me to Sim Lim Square. If ever there's a place where you can find computer peripherals, this must be it! But despite walking all the floors, I was disappointed. None of the outlets carried the Boom but there was one shop carrying the Touch which they claimed was a newer model than the Boom.

I was rather hesitant because what I was looking for was a portable Internet radio that I could carry around the house. The Streamium or the Boom would have been ideal. The Touch would require it to be hooked up to a hifi system or at the very least, a pair of small portable speakers. I wasn't particularly interested in keeping a radio that could not be moved anywhere easily, although the idea of connecting it to my hifi system was very appealing.

So I didn't buy the Touch as well. A second visit to Singapore followed months later. By then, my resolve was already weakening. Surely, this time I will buy a unit. But as fate would have it, I didn't. Again, I hesitated. I'm due to make a visit there again sometime next year. Surely, I will pick it up then? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Then yesterday, a Singaporean friend asked me to download the TuneIn radio app for my new ipad. It's really good, he said, lots of good channels. Stephen knows me well enough; he knows what I want and he knew I was still searching for a good Internet radio.

True enough, TuneIn is a very interesting app for the ipad. It pulls in streaming signals from all over world so I'm able to listen to transmissions from far-flung places like the States or Britain or Australia or wherever. I'm only limited by the speed of the Internet line.

And last night, I wondered how the sound would be like if I were to connect the ipad to my hifi system. Well, it sounded alright. The music resonated out through my speakers with clarity and good separation. No fuzziness or distortion at all. I suppose it would be the same if I were to hook up the Touch to the hifi system as well but now, I'll never know.

I'm glad that I did not buy the Touch earlier. To me, the ipad performs just all well. It serves my purpose and that's all I want.

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