Review Price free/subscription
Freecom MusicPal Wi-Fi Internet Radio
The digital switchover has been one of the longest, most protracted processes in living memory. It seems to have been going on for half of my lifetime, and the analogue TV signal still has until 2012 before it's switched off completely. Digital radio will also take over eventually, but the ubiquity of the analogue right now (the BBC reckons there are 100 million radios in the UK) means that this has been given an even longer timescale and no final date has yet been set.
If and when this eventually happens it may be a moot point anyway if products like Freecom's MusicPal - a Wi-Fi Internet radio - keep turning up. Internet radios offer access to many more radio stations than those on the restricted DAB list, usually offer more features, and the bitrates of Internet broadcasts is higher than those of DAB too. Until recently, cost was a barrier to true competition, but as the MusicPal's tag of £90 proves, this is becoming less of an issue as time goes by.
So how does using this Internet radio shape up in everyday use? Well, apart from its slightly staid looks - all black and silver - there's plenty to like about the MusicPal. As with other Internet radios, you can use the MusicPal to not only tune in to thousands upon thousands of stations across the world, but also stream files from your own personal music collection. The MusicPal is UPnP and DLNA 1.5 compatible, so it's the perfect all-in-one device to pop in the kitchen so you can listen to your favourite music while you're cooking.
File format support includes native decoding of MP3, WAV and LCPM files - not the longest list, you might think, but with the appropriate music server software (TVersity for instance, which is free) other formats, including WMA, OGG and FLAC can be decoded on the host PC instead.