I recently received a IS9181 WiFi Internet Radio to test out and eventually use as a giveaway here on BSMW. (details upcoming on that.)
A product from VTech, this unit was promoted to me as something that transplanted sports fans could use to keep up with sports talk back home. Sports radio stations such as WEEI and WBZ-FM do stream their programming on the internet, making it available anywhere in the world. It’s not always convenient however, to sit in front of the computer listening to hours of sports radio. You can listen through some mobile phones, but my experience has been that it is a battery killer to do so for any length of time.
If you have a wireless router in your home or office, you can plug in this radio, (or put in 6 AA batteries) and it will connect to your WiFi network, and let you choose from about 11,000 streaming radio stations worldwide. The menu allows you to choose by location or by genre. Once you find your favorite stations you can save them as favorites. You can also connect this unit to a home stereo system, or hook up your MP3 player to play through the unit.
It also has a built-in FM tuner, and clock-radio wakeup. The time sets automatically over the internet, and you can get the accuweather 5-day forecast for your local area on the full color display on the front of the unit.
I took it out of the box, plugged it in, and connected without trouble to my wireless network. I then browsed to WEEI and WBZ-FM, and started streaming each. I then went and looked for other sports radio stations around the country, WFAN in NY, KNBR in San Francisco, WIP in Philadelphia. They all came right up. My wife listened to Alice 97.3 FM in San Francisco when she lived out there, and we connected to that and set it as a favorite.
You can control the unit either with the buttons on top of the device or with the provided remote control. The remote is small, and didn’t seem to work from very far away, but was still nice to have.
The unit has a suggested retail of $149.95, but is selling on Amazon for $136.87. It’s not exactly cheap, but when compared to many audio devices out there, or a subscription to Satellite radio, it’s not bad either.
It was easy to set up and easy to use, and does the job. In the time that I’ve listened to it, I’ve never had a station drop out on me, and the sound quality is really good. If you’re a Red Sox fan living in California, or anywhere else in the world, this could be a good way to stay connected to all the Red Sox talk here in Boston. WBZ-FM has streamed several Patriots games on-line this season. If you were somewhere in the country where you couldn’t see the game (didn’t have Sunday Ticket) you could listen to those broadcasts with this.