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Everyone likes to feel in control. Whether you're a worried passenger in a car or in way over your head at work, there's nothing worse than that sinking feeling you get knowing you're powerless to influence the world around you. That's why personal media players (PMPs) - originally in the form of portable tape players like the Sony Walkman - have proved so popular because you're no longer at the beck and call of the radio - now you can be your own DJ.
It's also the reason I think media streaming has taken off. Being able to connect to your music collection and listen to it where and whenever you like puts you back in control. It's a win, win, win, and - heck let's have another one - win, situation! So it's no wonder all the big name radio makers are falling over themselves to churn out portable radios that can tune into your networked music collection.
At least, that's the impression you get when you look at the Stream WM-202 - the employees at Roberts must have all been reduced to proverbial headless chickens to have let this one through the door. I mean, surely someone at some point along the design process would've noticed quite how horribly ugly this thing is? Who knows.
Before I continue my rant, I should probably reaffirm what we're looking at today and what its pedigree is. As mentioned, the Stream WM-202 is a portable desktop radio that can tune into DAB and FM radio stations, as well as connect to your wireless or wired home network through which it can connect to Internet radio stations and your shared music collection.
It's a fairly common feature set that has proved successful for products like the Pure Evoke Flow and considering Roberts' history of creating some great sounding, beautiful radios, like the Revival RD60 and GlowTime 1 - CR9952, we expected good things from this one. However, aside from anything else we find it hard to get passed how cheap and nasty it looks.
The body is finished in a very thin and plain silver paint, there are fake Chrome highlights randomly dotted around and the arrangement of buttons is all over the place. We can accept a device being made to a budget in terms of materials used but to take such a slapdash approach to the design as well is very disappointing. In fairness the overall build quality is reasonable and the unit feels sturdy enough, though it does exhibit that unsatisfying hollow, creaky quality that, again, puts you in mind of a cheap product.
So, we've well established the Stream WM-202 isn't going to be winning any design awards but that's not the be all and end all so let's look at how it functions.
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