Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Keeping It Simple: Tivoli Audio's NetWorks Internet Radios

Tom DeVesto clearly enjoys his time at the drawing board. Just look over Tivoli Audio LLC's lineup of table and portable radios and you'll understand just how much the company's founder and CEO enjoys fiddling with the designs of his radios' knobs, cases, dials and displays. When it comes to fashion and technology trends, DeVesto doesn't like to be left behind.

His latest target is Internet radio. Sure, you can listen to an Internet radio station by using your PC and a Web browser, but wouldn't it be nice if you could listen to it by using something that actually looks and works like a radio? That's the impetus behind Tivoli Audio's new NetWorks and NetWorksGo Internet radios, both introduced at a June 22 press event at New York's Helmsley Palace Hotel.

The hard part was making it easy," said DeVesto as he showed off the radios to a crowded press conference. "And I think we've come up with it."

Rather than a computer-like design, the NetWorks radios, available this fall, don't look that much different from Tivoli's existing Model Satellite and SongBook products.

You tune in Internet radio stations by selecting them by call letter or by location from the hundreds of stations preloaded into the radio's memory. The list is updated regularly by Tivoli while you're online. If your favorite station isn't listed, simply write to Tivoli and it will be added, said DeVesto. You can store your favorite stations as presets. During the press conference DeVesto was able to look up and tune in a number of overseas Internet radio stations.

The NetWorks radios can connect to the Web wirelessly via a Wi-Fi connection or you can plug them into to a broadband connection with Ethernet cable. The NetWorksGo portable comes with an AC power adapter or can run on six C-cell batteries. Built in is a battery charger, thus allowing you to recharge nickel hydride (NiMH) and nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries while the AC adapter is plugged in. The NetWorks table radio will come in a number of finishes.

Both units include conventional FM radio tuners and dual alarm clocks and can also decode MP3, Real Audio and WMA digital music. Lacking, however, is support for HD Radio. Why? DeVesto said that while radio stations benefit greatly from HD Radio technology since it allows them to broadcast more content over the same radio spectrum, the benefits to listeners aren't as clear.

"It's because I still have had a hard time finding what's in it for the customer," said DeVesto.

DeVesto said that pricing on the NetWorks units has not been announced, "...but it's not going to be the cheapest thing on the market."

At a reception before the press conference I asked DeVesto if he enjoyed his role as CEO and chief design tweaker. The answer was a quick "Yes."

"I can do what I want," he said with a wide grin.

1 comment:

Mike said...

So no compatability with iTunes or AAC audio? That's too bad; this would be perfect for me if it also included support for Apple's Bonjour based iTunes sharing.