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Wireless Networking The Internet Hardware Technology

Portable Internet Radio to take on XM? 231

TheDude writes "A friend who works for a design company attended the Australian EDN awards last night and was impressed with one of the winners, in the wireless category, which was won by Grey Innovation for their Infusion device . It's a Linux based portable internet radio that streams Internet Radio over WiFi. Is this the future of Radio? Given the big push by XM and Sirus , the potential of Podcasting and now the "inFusion", in which direction is mass-audio-broadcast heading? And why isn't anyone really pushing Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB), like they have in the UK ?"
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Portable Internet Radio to take on XM?

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  • I've been wishing for this for a while. I spend a lot of time in urban areas and am pretty happy with my streaming options.
    • It looks cool as hell. If only they could find a way to safely put a ferrite-bar antenna in it...

      Nevertheless, this device, or ones like it, will catch on with listeners. I wonder when conventional analog radio will croak altogether. If Internet radio keeps gathering steam, that moment may come sooner than anybody can predict. The Internet is transforming the breadth of radio from a narrow range of choices limited to the ones on the dial, to a vast range of "stations" that are really just IP addresse

    • Ever since I got into streaming music, I have been waiting for this. Until now, I would simply set up my laptop and hook up the sound output of that to the car sound system. A dream come true.
  • But... (Score:1, Funny)

    by pmazer ( 813537 )
    Yes, but does it run Lin... oh, wait
  • by tetrahedrassface ( 675645 ) * on Sunday May 15, 2005 @12:48AM (#12533752) Journal
    The best internet radio is the free kind. Somewhere along the way we lost the true value of art. It supposed to be shared even if you suck. Go ahead and share it! Myabe you can influence someone somewhere. Period. The best music will most likely never happen due to greed. We all have to eat. []

    Best heard under Heavy surround sound because it hasn't been mixed yet.lol

    However I live by words, and YES i do suck. But here is my take. And its free for you. You need surround sound and good stereo to appreciate it, but i give it to you. That way its still mine. :P

    And yes I wrote this and performed all the instruments. So its mine to give.

  • smt 5600 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GregoryD ( 646395 )
    I stream radio from the internet to my Audiovox SMT 5600 cell phone. Unlimited data plan so there is no charge for me other then the monthly.

    I heard of some people streaming live tv through a home computer and a program called orb to their cell phone.

    It looks like wireless media is here.
    • I stream radio from the internet to my Audiovox SMT 5600 cell phone. Unlimited data plan so there is no charge for me other then the monthly.

      How much does an unlimited data plan cost compared to a service such as XM Radio?

      • 25 a month for unlimied data though at&t, I hear you can get cingular unlimited data for 20.

        Its still a little on the expensive side, but I like having internet everywhere I go.
        • Where are you? It seems to cost $40/month for a PDA in California, and $80/month for a PC card.
        • $25/mo is twice that of Sirius, 2.5 times that of XM.

          Having Internet access is nice, but using it via a tiny phone screen is not my idea of fun, I think my phone is 150 pixels in each direction. I was given a two month's trial but cancelled it within a couple weeks.
          • You don't use your phone as the interface. You use it as a conduit. That's what Bluetooth is for.

            Also, the $25/month is IP traffic, not just "music" traffic. You can use it for all number of things while mobile, including real-time traffic updates, directories, you name it.
        • I was under the impression that Cingular and ATT charged you for the airtime as well as the data charge. Is that not the case? If that's so, I may need to revisit some old ideas.
  • I wonder (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder what would happen to one if you pried it open with a screwdriver after washing it...
  • Wifi Radio wont catch on until it's truly portable, i.e. you can listen to it in your car like satellite radio, and that wont happen until WiFi is everywhere and that wont happen until cities start funding WiFi municipally and that wont happen. At least not if Verizon, et al. have their way.
    • Why should it happen? Do you think the government should provide internet access to everybody? (Read: should we all be forced to pool our money and buy each other internet access?) The government is so efficient and competent at everything else, why not, huh?
      • A network is a communal resource. Is it really that far-out?
      • If a consensus develops as to the usefulness of municipal wi-fi, then it will happen, much as consensus has justified all the roads, sewers, traffic signs and lights, firefighting systems, crime fighting systems, snow plowing and ice salting in wintry climates, publicly funded K-12 schools, and public libraries.

        I agree with you that government is not the most efficient agent to implement something as complex as wi-fi, but there are real benefits to be realized by universal access that may transcend the ine
    • "and that wont happen until cities start funding WiFi municipally"

      Why? Couldn't a company come in and put up WiFi access points all over and have people pay a subscription fee to use them? I personally feel that would be a much better solution to wireless internet than these dial up cell phone based services. I don't see why it would have to be a city to do it and I think the city would do a much worse job than a for-profit company.
    • WiFi radio won't catch on until internet radio stops sucking. It's nice to have a big selection of music, but having the stream pause inexplicably every now and then due to connection hiccups, or having the average quality be pretty average isn't going to win people over from hi quality, readily available and professional satellite stations.
  • here's what i want: something to jack into my ipod, that plays (and maybe lets me record) internet radio, like the fine soma fm [somafm.com].

    i guess wifi is the only way to deliver this, airtunes style.

    this functionality could be built into future ipods and other music players. i'd pay more for it.
  • by Otterley ( 29945 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @12:58AM (#12533798)
    Grey Innovation has a keen idea, but the implementation is not quite right. WiFi is great for bounded areas, like a house or a college campus, but it's not really well-suited to situations in which you need truly mobile IP access. For that, I think the new high-speed mobile IP protocols, such as EDGE, WCDMA/UMTS and EVDO are much better. Right now you can get unlimited EDGE IP traffic from Cingular for $15/month if you know what you are doing.

    Internet radio is also a very good application when done well (check the radio stations in iTunes if you haven't already), but you can do a lot more than just radio if you have Internet access. With Internet access you can also have music on demand. Rhapsody, Napster or the new Yahoo! Music Unlimited all provide this for a small subscription fee of $5-$10 US per month - much less than XM or Sirius charges. Their catalogues are pretty sizable, over 1 million tracks each.

    The key is to link this all together with a reasonable user interface. It would manifest itself in the form of a device (either standalone or built into an automobile) capable of tuning into these radio streams, or connecting to one of the music-on-demand services, with a Bluetooth interface using the Dial-Up Networking profile. Tether that to your Bluetooth-capable mobile phone, and voila. Instant kick-ass.
  • by Larry Lightbulb ( 781175 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @12:59AM (#12533804)
    If you want a high bit rate and stereo then the BBCs DAB broadcasts won't always be what you expect - take a look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/digitalradio/faqs/answer_03c. shtml [bbc.co.uk] for some of them. A quick search will find you plenty of other pages detailing the shortcomings of the current set-up.
    • the DAB radio stations are suffering from a lack of available spectrum, which they're sharing with national analog radio, local analog radio, national DVB television, and national analog television.

      DVB tv (freeview) suffers from the same problem, though at least when they eventually switch off analog tv broadcasting (currently looking at around 2010) there'll be a huge amount of bandwidth freed up for all sorts of services, including more and higher rate digital broadcasting.
  • In some cases, if we have limited bandwidth (eg. especially for things like satellite data), then we definitely want to reserve some of it for broadcast instead of unicast, as this is much more efficient use of the spectrum. Broadcast can and should be used for all sorts of audio and text (eg. news) data.

    The funny thing about this though is that broadcast => someone has to decide what the more popular channels are => corporate control => will never be as popular or as cheap as P2P / intelligence

  • I'd like to see a wifi MP3 player that could download radio playlists. Whenever you're near a hotspot, it would grab the playlist for the next hour or so and download the songs. You then have an hour of fresh music before you have to run into another hotspot. Of course legal issues would complicate producing such a player, but maybe a clever hack could improve the functionality of the player in the article.
  • It's only a matter of time before we still "podcasting" audio/video. Am I correct on this?

    Sorry, this was phrased real badly.
  • File this under "Just Because We Can Doesn't Mean We Should." For on-demand streaming, great. But using a packet-switched, short-range wireless IP network to do broadcast audio is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard of. A good way to broadcast radio would be to put a single transmitter really high up where millions of people could have line-of-sight reception of the same transmission. If only we had a way to put an antenna up so high that we could all see it...
    • XM and Sirius each have only 12.5 mhz of bandwidth.
      That's not much room at all for tons of broadcast channels.
  • One of the only things I really miss about ditching my contract job in Indianapolis and moving back to Michigan was listening to the Big Dumb Show [bigdumbshow.com] on the drive to and from work. If this "radio" could make it easy to grab a chunk of show and listen to it while traveling, it could have potential.
  • I recently bought a new car that was equipped with XM radio and a free 3 month trial. After 1 month in, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to sign up. It's like they didn't get the RIAA contract that the regular stations have. Their general selection of rock and hard rock stations is atrocious. It's all music from artists I've never heard of, and Dokken and Ratt's best hits, although I was unaware they had any. You're really lucky if you manage to catch a top 40 song (in the hard rock genre) on any of their
    • I think you're a troll. A very subtle troll, but a troll nonetheless. (I got two words for you: "Deep Cuts.")
      • I'm glad any kind of negativity is now branded "troll". Go ahead, pay the 12 bucks a month and the hundred or 2 on an XM satellite radio. Report back here with your findings if you think I'm so far off the mark.
    • You're really lucky if you manage to catch a top 40 song (in the hard rock genre) on any of their stations; and if it is one, it's just the same track they repeat of that artist every 24 or 48 hours.

      That's what FM/Clearchannel is for.

    • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @07:56AM (#12534801) Journal
      You're really lucky if you manage to catch a top 40 song (in the hard rock genre) on any of their stations

      You're persuading me to give XM serious thought. Avoiding Top 40 isn't a bug, it's a feature.

      For example...the problem with "oldies" stations is that they're not oldies stations; they're oldies Top 40 stations. The only thing that keeps them from being as wretched as modern Top N stations is that they select their material from a time when radio was less specialized, so that they achieve some variety despite themselves. Even so, you'll never hear Quicksilver Messenger Service, or Pearls Before Swine on most oldies stations. Heck, you won't even hear the Nazz's "Hello, It's Me" as opposed to Todd Rundgren's solo version.
    • First of, sir, you're obviously listening to the wrong stations. Unless you explore more than a couple of the available stations, yes, it may seem like they play music that is a bit more uncommon to hear than on normal broadcast radio-- but then again, broadcast radio rock MUST play the same music over and over (and over) again on the same station.

      On XM, there is more than one "rock station" that would play music that broadcast stations must play on the same station, save some of your huge market citie
  • While it may be nice for around the house, it wouldn't replace XM or Sirius. I got XM when I bought a new Accord a couple months back. It's terrific. I drive 10 miles to/from work and regularly much farther on the weekends. I dont have to worry about loosing stations or reception problems (except under tunnels). WiFi radio isn't suitable for this. Not to mention, if there were that much wireless coverage, what a waste of bandwidth it would be.

  • ...why isn't anyone really pushing Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB), like they have in the UK ?

    Because DAB is shared across all stations. They take the spectrum and use wavelength division multiplexing and time division multiplexing to spread all of the stations with digital broadcasts across the spectrum. This allows high station density and no problems associated with signal drop out from distance nodes. However, this situation requires cooperation between competitors vying for listeners, something tha
    • I think those pushing for digital radio are overlooking the key advantages that analog radio has -- simple equipment, and a massive installed base. There is no point to IBOC on the AM bands, and it's at best a value-added for the FM bands.
      • I think those pushing for digital radio are overlooking the key advantages that analog radio has -- simple equipment, and a massive installed base.

        On the other hand, digital radio has distinct advantages, especially in moving vehicles. Even when using RDS/EON to track the best frequency to receive a station on, the frequency switches are audible on analog. Digital doesn't care that the signal is fading, it either works or doesnt, and if it works, the sound is always the same volume. Getting good reception
    • Wouldn't a central authority branch off the FCC for coordinating digital radio make it easier to achieve the scenario you outline with regards to DAB? People who think that the national economy works only by invisible hand alone are misled. There are distinct reasons as to why the Sherman and Antitrust Acts were put into law, and it's a shame that they aren't more vigorously applied in the media conglomoration spaces. The fact that 90% of radio in the US is owned by two companies, Infinity and Clearchann
  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @01:34AM (#12533921) Homepage Journal
    I used to trade cassettes by mail with a friend for years. did my own collections on cassette for the car -- in fact, with access to broadcast studios and music libraries, in high school I was doing that for the bus trips on debate. currently, I have CDs in the car and my iPod for exercise and work.

    now, that's the original alternative radio format, and you control it yourself, all of it, every bit. with shuffle and random play options on most everything except linear tape products, it's truly random (most-played on the 'pod is about the same as top rock radio.)

    radio when it works has always been a locally-focussed medium... the jukebox aspect is the filler for the local chatter, news, information, sports, and the like. radio when it doesn't comes off the big bird and you get two drop-in spots at the half hour and can donut the top of the hour.

    the point is, none of those guys do what you are used to. it once upon a time was a sure thing to expose you to new venues, music types, and new songs and artists, when you could have beach boys bumped up against patsy cline and followed with the frank chacksfield orchestra and nilsson.

    three new songs a week on any top-chart station is all the new you get, and it's all of a sameness.

    radio has to get back to local to save itself, and I mean without all the invective of screech radio. until then, I format it myself, which I have done since before I strained the ether with my college radio hour.
  • by imperious_rex ( 845595 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @01:40AM (#12533941)
    Given yesterday's Slashdot item about radio [slashdot.org], the next few years will be an interesting time indeed for the world of radio. Under dual assault from satellite and online, terrestial radio is truly going to take a beating, and it will take more than upgrading to HD radio and offering localalized programming and news bites to staunch the bleeding. If terrestrial radio is to survive, it will have to exercise significantly greater imagination and (pardon the word) innovation than what most radio execs have exhibited so far...
  • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:15AM (#12534231) Homepage
    I've been keenly interested in music all my life, I've played in bands, collected music, got to know the musicians and now (for the second time) am getting ready to launch a internet radio station myself.

    I follow the music and technology closely (systems administrator by trade) and have followed both XM and Sirius with a good deal of interest. But there's the catch: the reason I've followed them with such great interest is because the right alternative hasn't been available. And thats (aside from the desktop) internet radio.

    Why is internet radio the right format? Because its a totally open system. Look at programs like Off The Hook for example. Thats the kind of programming that couldn't exist in a closed system, but on the internet the field is wide open.

    Why on earth we'd want anything less then that is beyond me. We've already had our closed system, its called the public airwaves. Everyone knows Clear Channel perfected it, but they aren't to blame the system was flawed from the start. Anyone can have a website and thats all it takes to run a broadcast.

    I don't know anything about this product, but I do know I'm a firm believer that internet radio is the answer to a question a lot of us have been asking ourselves for as long as we've been listening to music.

    Props to XM and Sirius for broadening the horizon, but I can't see their (still limited) approach as much more then a stop-gap measure until WIFI broadband becomes ubiquitous enough that people can tune into their favorite radio station or flip on something they've never even heard before.

    If I sound a little giddy its because my favorite syles of music aren't available at your local Virgin Mega Store, in fact since the arts and music explosion on the internet I can't even find most of my favorite bands down at the local alternative record store and I live in a major metropolitan city.

    Even with all the existing media outlets combined they don't even begin to scratch the surface of whats available. And theres a lot of good stuff out there.

    Sorry for going overboard. I feel passionate about it. This is a very exciting time in general and as a art and music lover doubly so. The beauty of the internet is that it's so totally open and I've been doing this for a long time now and I still find myself saying "wow".

    Don't ever put this genie back in the bottle.
  • Recently I was asked to see what the possibilities are to encode data from a radio tuner card into an (for example) mp3 stream.

    I only found cards which could do one channel at the same time.

    My question is, does somebody know radio tuner cards which can listen to / encode more than one channel at the time?
  • I haven't had the opportunity to listen to XM or Sirus yet, so I can't compare, but one thing I definitely like about streaming radio compared to regular FM is the music. Meaning they actually play music. There is no stupid DJ filling half of his 2 hour morning show with really stupid, naive, and/or ill-informed rambling, mixed in with phone calls from dim-witted listeners.

    Not that DJ's are bad. On rare occassion they can quite pleasant. There are only two stations I've found in my area where the DJ's tell
  • I bet the InFusion device is missing the same thing as every other WiFi device (eg. the wireless ZyXel VoIP phone [voipsupply.com]) .. it can't authenticate on the wireless authentication gateway that is at universities, pay-"Hot spots" etc.

    How about some sort of XMLRPC protocol, so this authentication could be automated? It still sucks that I have to fire up my browser to enter my username/password, which is store in there anyway..
  • But we're going to get one of these for the home stereo:

    Roku Soundbridge [rokulabs.com]. Thank the gods it works with my router.

    Convetional radio sucks. Especially the local stations. Moreso now that ClearChannel has a cookie-cutter KISS-FM here.

    The wife likes listening to the 80s channel [club977.com] and I like listening to jazz [smoothjazz.com] and traditional irish folk/pop. The latter of which have no market or stations here in Austin, TX. YOU try to give culture to this place. It doesn't work for the most part.
  • First off all the satelite radio services suck. There is no diversity of music. Just the same crap that Clear Channel and the other big conglomerates push on us. Secondly http://slimdevices.com/ [slimdevices.com] has a really great OS product called SlimServer. Works over ANY networking that can be attached to a PC. Supports Linux and has a great hardware player.
    • Re:2 Responses (Score:3, Informative)

      by mbourgon ( 186257 )
      Are you on crack? I had the chance to play with one a few weeks ago, and it almost convinced me to go buy one. The Old Time Radio channel (of which there were two, btw) was playing stuff that probably hasn't been on the radio in decades. (And yes, I've caught a couple OTR shows on the radio) And the Audio Lab channel had stuff you'll _never_ hear on Clear Channel. I think you listened to the pop channel, and I'm sure that's intentionally like Clear Channel. But go find a real channel, and be amazed.
  • Streaming on my Treo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _aa_ ( 63092 ) <j@@@uaau...ws> on Sunday May 15, 2005 @08:23AM (#12534876) Homepage Journal
    On Sprint [sprintpcs.com]'s CDMA cellular network, one can reasonably reliably listen to 56kbps shoutcast [shoutcast.com] streams with a smart phone such as the treo [palmone.com]. Lower bitrates are even more reliable. Sprint's unlimited data plan is $15/mo on top of your regular phone charges.

    This can't compete with XM on quality and obviously not on signal reception. But a treo with a wifi card would beat the device referenced in this article hands down, in my opinion.
    • It can compete with XM if the site wisely encodes in AAC+ (AKA AAC-HE) instead of MP3. At 48kbps AAC+ streams sound almost as good as MP3 streams at 96kbps.
    • We really need a aacPlus player for the Treo. I love the way 48k aacPlus streams sound, and I really wish I could get them on my Treo.

      PS- *BSP* warning, SomaFM now is streaming 3 channels in 40kb aacPlus RTSP/LATM for 3GPP phones. So if you have one of the few Sprint 3GPP phones (Samsung and some Sanyo models) you can get our streams on those phones now.
  • This is where most of these type of things fall short for me since I like to listen to the BBC and others who only do Real.

    Reciva [reciva.com] who were featured on /. some time ago, look promising but its not clear if their product is really available. They seem to be supplying OEM's but I'm not sure who.
  • what does it matter what OS it runs?
  • Seems like anyone with an existing IP satellites could get into the satellite radio business. Is it possible to receive these satellites while moving or do they need a big dish? The radio stream could be sent out on UPD to remove the need for two way communication and make it into a broadcast.
  • When In Roam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @12:04PM (#12535979) Homepage Journal
    Until radio Internet access forms an uninterrupted coverage area, Internet radio will be relocatable, not truly "mobile". Like the difference between a "luggable" KayPro PC and a Palm Pilot, only convenient mobility will be palatable to the masses (not just geeks, early adopters, and scattered specialists). That limitation means not only that cost will remain prohibitive until industrial scales are marketable, but that the network won't really be populated enough to really be social - except as an echo chamber of the same hackers and antisocial worker drones we've already got on Slashdot ;). That might have been better for Usenet, before AOL piped into the Internet, but the path to riches and humanization runs right through the washed masses.

    WiFi (and its descendants) will be just the place to settle down, or breathe free. But hotspots will be spotty for some time, as our society's P2P buildout continues inexorably, but unplanned. The way this environment will reach a basic mobility platform includes interspot coverage by barely-adequate 3G "phone" networks, with roaming among them and hotspots, interchangeably. Motorola has announced a WLAN/GSM roamer due by Q32005. BT promises a WiFi/GSM "phone" [vnunet.com] by Q42005, and is launching a Bluetooth/GSM project. These vendors are trying to both extend cell/PCS service to enterprise WLANs (SCCAN [sccan.org]), and roam VoWLAN connections to cell/PCS networks (UMA [umatechnology.org]). And the IEEE already has a new "WiFi" descendant, WMM [nwfusion.com], that promises better roaming and QoS over the WLANs, for seamless telephony interop.

    The upshot for devices like this cute little inFusion Internet radio is popularity well beyond shoppers at ThinkGeek. Which bigger global market means cheaper devices, easier to use, and more jobs for geeks. But it also means a bigger audience for content, within which niche producers can find supporting consumer scale for even the least popular content. So the leveled multimedia playing field can support people who tie other people together across the globe. Let's get it on!
  • Their inFusion demo says it can record the streams. Much streaming content is copyrighted, though not all, which allows streams but not copies. How are we to know that we're not legally able to copy incoming content, without some associated metadata at least whether a copyright is asserted? Just because content's copyright is reserved from the consumer doesn't mean the consumer can't copy it (fair use, etc). So the recording device has no business blindly violating our rights by enforcing the copyright asse

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