An ardent advocate of the advantages of internet radio, Freecom appears to believe that online streaming music is the future and deserves a place in every home. This is clearly seen in their latest gadget: the MusicPal WLAN Internet Radio.
Combining black with silver trimmings, the MusicPal looks somewhat like a retro radio boom box reborn with a modern makeover, thanks to the pair of large clunky clickable dials that harks back to the 60's. Menu navigation is simple; we managed to start listening to music two minutes after taking it out of the box. When it comes to adding your own custom list of preferred radio stations however, it gets tedious and cumbersome, as we had to manually input the URLs of the internet radio stations.
Besides being able to tune in to the almost limitless number of internet radio stations, the MusicPal is uPnP compatible, which means you can stream your MP3 music files from your PC or other network devices such as the Freecom Storage Gateway, amongst others. This makes it an excellent companion while doing the daily household chores or if you are away from your computer for whatsoever reason.
When it comes to the most important feature, the MusicPal was disappointing in terms of its sound quality. With no equalization features to modulate the bass and treble to get that perfect sound, the music was flat and lacked that extra oomph.
Looking beyond its slightly lackluster audio quality, the MusicPal also allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds and read them off its screen as part of its bells and whistles. Unfortunately, we gave up after a few minutes as our eyes got tired of squinting to read the news off the small monochrome screen. The MusicPal can double up as an alarm clock, replacing your conventional alarm with a soothing tune for you to wake up to.
With so many streaming channels available, the MusicPal screams out for a remote control, but unfortunately, it was not included. Couch junkies will be unimpressed with the need to stand up and walk to the device for some station surfing.
With a price tag of $299, it's unlikely that the Freecom MusicPal can persuade the masses to give up their MP3s for internet radio. Still, it's a start and lovers of streaming internet radio will appreciate the forays made into this exciting frontier. After all, this could be the beginning of a trend that should pick up pace in the near future.