For a generation, TVs have been in the background – in more ways than one – of household entertainment.
Pinnacle SoundBridge Radio
- Great speakers and subwoofer, cool visualisations, 18 presets
- Expensive, difficult to customise presets, difficult to set up a digital music library for streaming, a headphone jack is the only audio output
The Pinnacle SoundBridge Radio provides a pleasurable listening experience straight out of the box. However, setup difficulties and a lack of audio outputs makes it hard to justify the outlay required for this product when other players in the market offer the same features at a lower price.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
Pinnacle's SoundBridge Radio combines an FM/AM radio with a media streamer that connects to a computer via a wireless interface. The SoundBridge Radio lets you listen to your digital music collection anywhere within the range of your home wireless network and a power outlet. The SoundBridge connects to the Internet to give you access to a plethora of preset Internet radio stations and you can tune in to thousands more should you grow weary of the local content. Unfortunately, the SoundBridge Radio isn't as good as some of the other media streamers on the market, which do the same thing better and cost less.
Setting up the unit consists of entering the wireless network key and your location details. The SoundBridge Radio does the rest. In five short minutes Japan-A-Radio, one of the 100 pre-programmed Internet stations, was blaring in our test centre with excellent clarity. The integrated speakers and subwoofer provide a more than satisfactory sound quality, but the only audio output on the SoundBridge is a headphone jack. The large (280x32) display leaves oodles of room to show radio station and track information, not to mention some pleasing visualisations.
Browsing the available stations is simple using the intuitive navigation system, which can be operated with the supplied remote control. Unfortunately, that's where the simplicity ends. Setting up non pre-programmed internet radio stations isn't obvious. User stations may only be added via the "Web Interface". The manual that ships with the product doesn't have clear instructions on how the presets actually work. Software to automatically set up this feature would be a welcome addition to the SoundBridge Radio.
Your favourite internet radio stations can be added to one of the 18 presets. There are literally tens of thousands of online radio streams to choose from. However, the SoundBridge Radio doesn't currently support Real Media or WMA Voice streams. If none of the available Internet radio stations suffice the old faithful AM and FM broadcast frequencies can be heard loud and clear using the supplied AM and FM antennas.
A media server must be set up on your computer in order to stream your digital music collection to the unit and this was no easy task. The SoundBridge Radio supports a variety of servers including the popular iTunes and Windows Media Connect, but the compatibility of these two servers is questionable. Setting up a Windows Media Connect Server was fraught with difficulties. The unit detected the server but failed to display the playlists that we set up. Setup of the iTunes server failed completely. The SoundBridge Radio didn't even recognise the server. The error message suggested downloading the Firefly media server from the support site. The Firefly server was successful, but required all music files to be stored in one centralised directory with no playlist support. What's more, the Firefly media server rates no mention in the user manual.
If you get bewildered by the media server setup process, you can still use the SoundBridge Radio to listen to part of your music collection using the inbuilt SD slot, but this feature hardly redeems the unit's shortcomings. One feature that does deliver is the inbuilt alarm which provides two possible alert times and the choice of waking to your favourite radio station or song. At this price, it's an expensive radio alarm clock.
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