Earlier this month. Aluratek introduced its own Internet Radio Alarm Clock. Let's see how this one fared with a hands-on review.
Also known by the code name AIRMM02F, don't be fooled by the Aluratek's rather compact, light body. This one is not that portable as it must be plugged into the wall via DC adapter to work. That's not a lot to ask, but it does tie you down. Literally.
To turn the device on, there is a tiny black button the back side, near all of the connectivity ports. You have an Ethernet plug spot, audio line-in jacks and a headphones socket. There's even a little spot large enough to fit a pin if you need to reset the device to factory settings.
Unfortunately, it looks like you're going to have to read the manual with this one. I jumped for the "Quick Start Guide" as I prefer to read as little instructions as possible. (Be honest, who doesn't?)
If you don't like Wi-Fi and are an Ethernet person, plug that in. If you want to stream music from your computer over the Internet Radio Alarm Clock, then you'll need to install the included software CD. For the purposes of this review, I'm disclosing that I'm going Wi-Fi only and not bothering with streaming my own music. I'm more concerned with how the Internet Radio function works.
After selecting your language of choice using the front right dial to scroll, you'll have to find your wireless network. Considering there isn't a keyboard, this is going to be all scrolling and pushing down on the dial. Hopefully, this is a one-time only process (unless you reset the device) because it definitely takes a few minutes to scroll between letters, switch to numbers, etc.
Operating the Aluratek Internet radio isn't that difficult. You only have two dials on the front. The left one is for volume only, while the right is for scrolling through options, and then you press down to select. Then in the middle are two silver buttons to go back and also for options.
Once you have the Internet up and running, you can stream audio from approximately 11,000 radio stations worldwide. That might seem a bit overwhelming, so while you can spin the dial and try your luck, it might not hurt just to scroll through the country and genre list available on the product page.
Some of the programs you don't need Internet for include basic local FM radio, which comes in clearly and you don't even have to search out. The radio finds all of the right station numbers for you. When switching out of the radio or MP3 player programs, the music continues so you don't have to worry about cutting out right in the middle of your favorite song. But definitely add stations to your favorites list to avoid having to surf through all of the menus all the time.
As for another basic function, there's the alarm clock included in the product title. Two alarms and a sleep function are available for you to configure. This is the only time I ran into a real problem with the back feature, which kept taking me out of menus I wanted to be in and I could never make it back to the home screen. This is also the first time I picked up the included remote control for help.
Unfortunately, the remote didn't provide much help when doing other tasks, like setting up the current time in the first place. I kept pressing down numbers and it took me backward.
Surprisingly, the feature that impressed me the most were the 2x2W stereo speakers. The sound was crisp and definitely above average for something that I could practically toss around. Nice for either listening to music while reading/working or even blasting at a medium-sized house party, the Aluratek radio pumps out clear tunes.
Aluratek’s Internet Radio Alarm Clock is available now for $99. That’s a one time fee as there are no monthly costs or subscription fees tied to the channels accessible by this device.
How much you need this device is questionable. You need an Internet connection very nearby to truly make use of a product that costs a hundred bucks. If you're not making use of the Internet-enabled functions, then you're shelling out a ton of cash for a standard clock radio with slightly better speakers. You should be able to access these Internet radio stations on your computer, and it might make sense to just hook up better speakers to that.
However, if you would like the convenience of having Internet radio in your living room or kitchen without having to move your computer around (maybe you only have a desktop), then this isn't a bad choice.