Freecom MusicPal Wi-Fi Internet Radio - Freecom MusicPal

By Jonathan Bray

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

But it's not all a bed of roses. Part of the attraction of Internet radios is that you don't have to have a PC on to run them - you can usually simply plug them in, set up the Wi-Fi link and then simply browse away to your heart's content. But Internet radios have to get their lists of radio stations from somewhere, and with the MusicPal it's the vTuner radio service supplying the URLs. This is where the MusicPal begins to fall behind standard DAB radios and other Internet radio competitors from the likes of Revo and Tangent. The main problem is that the list of stations set up as standard on your vTuner account doesn't include any BBC stations. You can, of course, add stations to your heart's content using the bundled vTuner account but that's beside the point - it's a pain to do and it should be set up straight out of the box.

There are a couple of other areas where the MusicPal can't match more mature products. The first of these is build quality: though the design is clean and unfussy and the controls intuitive to use, the MusicPal is just too lightweight. You have to grasp it from behind to stop it scooting across the table when you're clicking away at the dials. The second is sound quality, which is as disappointing as the build quality. Its single speaker is fine for talk radio but there's little solidity, substance or bass to the sound, so music doesn't sound wonderful.

Verdict

All-in-all, the MusicPal is a competent Internet radio. It's easy to use and set up, it has a decent range of features and it comes in at a reasonable price too, at under £100. But it's a fiddle to add BBC radio stations, it's not the most solidly engineered product and sound quality isn't wonderful. It looks like we've still got a bit of a wait yet for a DAB-beating Internet radio to emerge after all.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Value 7
  • Usability 8

Mentar

January 11, 2009, 4:10 am

Good review, but there are a few points that are worth mentioning.


MusicPal now has WMA playback so can play BBC radio channels. The update for it will be retrieved the fist time time you connect it to the internet which is a very straight forward process. I bought this a few weeks back for just under 30 pounds and think it's an absolute steal. Hooking it up to your hifi and DLNA server (eg Tversity in Windows or MediaTomb in Linux) will allow you to listen to your entire music collection, and you won't need to have a PC other than your main server running. Furthermore there is a windows and a pocket PC app that will allow you to remote control the device a pc/pocketpc or you can use any web browser capable device. It is not as sophisticated as the SlimServer as it you can only choose to play the favourites can be a way to build a cheap multi room music system for a fraction of the cost of Sonos or even SlimServer based solution. On the bad side, it does however seem to lock up at times, which although rare is rather annoying as you have to cut power to the device and bring it back online.

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