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How many times have you ruined a perfectly good recipe by trying to be a bit too creative? You know the story; you take French onion soup and add some lime for a touch of oriental exotica, or add marmalade to a perfectly good beef gravy. The thing is, that one adventurous step (or maybe two) doesn't usually just render your meal slightly odd to the taste - it makes it completely inedible. It's amazing how getting just one small thing wrong can so well and truly spoil the overall effect.
That's the way I feel about the Terratec Noxon iRadio for iPod. In many ways this is a product with a great bunch of ingredients. It's a multi-functional music centre that not only boasts Internet radio, but also an FM tuner, an iPod dock and audio streaming among other things. But it gets a number of small things wrong that ruin it.
It's a shame, because mostly this product is a good thing. For starters, it looks pretty good with its glossy front panel and soft touch plastic wrapping the rest of the case. It feels weighty and extremely well made, too, with four heavy-duty feet underneath to keep it stuck to the table or kitchen worktop. You can prod away at the buttons and twiddle the volume knob (which also all feel solid and well engineered) and not have to worry about it moving around.
The screen, though a pretty basic monochrome white on black, is extremely legible, and when you drop your iPod into the dock slot on the top of the device, its music folders become navigable on that screen - which means you don't have to squint or get up and go over to the device to pick a track. You can use the remote control from wherever you happen to be sitting. The iRadio, incidentally, supports all iPods (except the shuffle), including the Touch and iPhone, and devices charge while they're mounted in the slot too.
Initial setup is an absolute breeze. Just switch the iRadio on and it'll scan for networks and prompt you for your password as necessary. WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption methods are supported, as are UPnP music sources, and if you've already shared your music via Windows Media Player, these instantly pop up at the top level of the menu system, ready for access via all the usual categories - album, artist, genre, composer and so on. And if you've gone down the powerline Ethernet route, never fear, the iRadio also boasts an Ethernet socket for wired connection.