Re(al)view: Acoutic Research ARIR200 Internet Radio

Re(al)view: Acoutic Research ARIR200 Internet Radio

Aug 21, 2009

We are very into internet radio. It is a great way to hear music you might never have chosen on your own, but that you end up loving anyway. No matter how much music you own, the collection eventually will go stale. On a laptop, nothing makes for a more complicated workflow than having a bunch of windows open so you can have work, research, email and music open at the same time. What if you could connect to the internet for music, but you didn't have to do it through your computer?

Acoustic Research has come out with a product that does just that. You do have to set up your account and radio through your computer, but that is the last time you need to use it. It connects either wirelessly or via an ethernet cable to your router.

Feature list:

  • Width in Inches: 8.4
  • Height in Inches: 3.7
  • Depth in Inches: 6.1
  • Weight in lbs: 2.54
  • Power Source: 120V AC, 240V AC
  • Memory: Y
  • Memory Type: station presets
  • Memory : 12
  • Mounts: removable wall
  • Wireless Data Transfer: 802.11b, 802.11g
  • Display: LCD
  • Remote: none
  • IO: 1 headphone audio
  • IO: 1 USB data
  • IO: 1 CAT5 data

• Thousands of music and talk stations including web only steams as well as AM and FM transmissions
• Built in WiFi connectivity allows an easy connection to a wireless home router or WiFi network
• Simple online setup and activation
• Free Slacker Personal Radio, Weatherbug, and a Personal Portal account
• Sources include Slacker, Internet Radio, AM and FM radio, internal memory, and USB input

You may notice from one of the photos(and/or specs) that this unit plays Slacker radio. If you haven't heard of Slacker, it's time you went straight to their site to figure it out. It is basically customized radio that gives you a whole bunch of categories to choose from and then allows you to set up playlists and so forth and goldang it, it's compatible (and free) with the ARIR200.

The sound quality of the AR is good- probably better than you think, though you should not give up your high end tube amp if you want true fidelity.

For those of you who live outside of Southern California where we are located, the ARIR200 also has a Weatherbug connection to give you your weather on demand (it works great here too, we just get tired of hearing "sunny with a 100% chance of sun" everyday.). For you apocalyptic afficionados there is also an emergency warning system built in that you can enable alerts for (we didn't).

You can set up your alarm clock to feed you radio stations in the morning and you can even play some of your own mp3s stored on the Slacker server. Internal memory on the ARIR200 (512MB) stores about ten hours of audio so another option there. See that USB port on the back? That's right- you can hook up an mp3 player to the ARIR as well. Waht culd be moar awesomer than all of that?

This machine has been our constant companion over the last couple weeks- keeping us in fresh music in our favourite categories, non- stop. We probably focused mostly on Slacker for input due to its ease of use. We have had a number of problems with our new desktop computer and so work has shifted over to an olde laptop from tyme to tyme. Having the music playback centered "off-computer" has been a workflow godsend.

MSRP is $129 but you can get one for less here.

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