The first thing to do it to scan for a network, so you’ll need to ensure that it broadcasts its ESSID (Network name). If there are multiple networks picked up, you can easily choose between them with the dial. You then press the select button to connect. WEP is supported, though it has to be 128-bit and WPA1 is also suported – but not WPA2. Once you are connected the next thing to do is to enter the Firmware menu in Configuration and update it, which it will do automatically.
Once done, you enter the Stations menu from where you can the choose of browsing stations using either Location or Genre. Make your choice and anything from Hartlepool FM to Radio Max Euro from Hungary to Radio 1 are at your fingertips.
A really great feature is that if the station has the option available you can choose between a live stream or an On Demand service. The BBC does this brilliantly. It’s essentially the BBCs Listen Again service, but without a PC. You can choose between shows by twirling the dial and you can even go to a specified time in the broadcast. It means that you don’t have to worry about sitting in front of your radio or even bother to record it as you have to with the Pure Evoke 3 – it’s just there when you want it – at least for a week, which is great.
If however, you want to be able to listen to local sport commentary when abroad you should be aware that the BBC can’t broadcasts its commentaries over the Internet due to licensing limitations, which pours cold water on a potentially killer use.
There are other downsides too. The problem is that most online radio stations are broadcast with a relatively low bit-rate, typically 44Kbps, lower than that used by the much maligned DAB system. And they simply don’t sound that great. Some go as low as 16Kbps and just sound awful.
Acoustic Energy claims that there are two speaker drivers in the Wifi radio to produce stereo sound, but even if there are, they are too small and too close together to produce high quailty sound. Listening to a number of stations, the office consensus was that it sounded like old style transistor radio. By contrast the Evoke 3 sounded rich and warm. Another bugbear is that it takes some time to switch between stations as it needs to buffer the stream.