To be quite honest I’ve never been a big user of Internet radio. I listen to local channels to hear local content, but for my music I tend to listen mostly to my iTunes collection, however, since Logitech sent me their new Logitech UE Smart Radio to look at I must admit that my listening habits have changed somewhat.
Lately, I find myself listening to a channel from Hawaii a lot – probably because I just returned from a vacation there and really didn’t want to come home to the Great White North. Listening to the accents of the on-air personalities brings back wonderful memories of warm sun, sand, the ocean and that special smell of all the flowers.
I’ve found myself exploring the web radio alternatives available and now have favourite stations from France, the UK, Australia and other countries – music really is an international language.
The Logitech UE Smart Radio retails for $199.99 CAD and is widely available wherever Logitech products are sold. It’s not really a new type of device – even in terms of Logitech. Their Squeezebox radios provided a similar type of product, but with the UE moniker comes a much more robust sound.
The Smart Radio has a rechargeable battery and connects easily to your home W-Fi network with a few simple steps. Once set up you can select free and subscription services from around the world very easily. The battery, when fully charged, offers about six hours of continuous play, so it’s great – you unplug the radio and take it anywhere your network will reach to listen.
Logitech describes the speakers and amplifier as a ¾-inch high-definition, soft-dome tweeter and 3-inch high power, long-throw woofer Bi-amplified class D design with digital electronic crossover. The package offers very god sound with a nice, bassy tone that I like.
This isn’t just an Internet radio, it’s also an alarm clock with a seven-day setting and the ability to add multiple alarms. The 2.4” display is very clear and when in alarm mode it’s really easy to read from the bedside table.
The front panel features six preset station buttons for setting your favourite station or service for one-touch access. There’s an oversized main control knob, and beside that a smaller volume knob. A set of eight media keys allows control of playback, and, of course, the power button.
Android and iOS users can download apps to offer control over the UE Smart Radio remotely – a nice touch that adds a ton of functionally to the device. You’ll need Android 2.0 or ater and iOS 4.2 an later to run the Apps.
The Logitech UE Smart Radio weighs in at just under 1.5 kg, is 22cm L x 8.5cm D x 12.8cm H, and it’s got a nice solid feel to it. It has onboard 802.11g and is 802.11b compatible – my router is an 802.11n dual band and the radio works great on it. It also has Ethernet compatibility, so you can hard wire it into your network if you don’t have Wi-Fi.
It’ll work with a PC running Windows XP and later, and a Mac running OSX 10.5 and later – you’ll need at least 256 MB of RAM and 80 MB of hard drive space. It’ll play MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, WMA, Ogg, Vorbis, AAC, and Apple lossless formats. These specs are for the software required to allow playback of the music on your computer – the radio works great simply as a stand-alone device.
I find myself hauling the Smart Radio all over the house more and more, which frankly surprises me. Along with the radio station favourites I’ve set up, I listento my content from my computer – so this Smart Radio offers me a much broader listening experience than I had previously.
PROS: 6 hour battery life; access to thousands of free and subscription radio services from around the world; easy set-up and control via iOS device; great sound.
CONS: Fairly expensive at $199.99 CAD.
TO SUM IT UP: Thousands of stations worldwide, subscription services, my own content and a multiple alarms available all in one compact package that provides terrific sound – I’ve found the Logitech UE Smart Radio to be a great addition to my home. Easy to set up and use, it’s fast becoming an important device to me and one that is well worth looking at if you are in the market for a similar device. It’s fairly expensive but you definitely get what you pay for here.
Murray Hill is lead tech writer at communicatto.com, a social media marketing agency where this article originated. You can reach Murray by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @MurrayDHill