By Chris Scott Barr
Being the geek that I am, I have computers scattered all through my house. It’s something that people tend to notice when they come over for the first time, not because they’re ugly and out of place, just that there seems to be a lot of them. A couple of them are used almost primarily for playing music, namely the ones in my kitchen or garage. Usually I’ll either have them playing music from my iTunes, or Pandora. If you’re not familiar with Pandora, I highly suggest checking it out. Essentially it’s free internet radio. You can create stations with the exact artists and genres that you want.
I little while ago I learned of the Livio Radio, which allows you to play music from your Pandora stations without a PC. I was given the opportunity to review one, so I could find out if this was really as awesome as it sounded. Hit the jump for my thoughts.
The Livio isn’t exactly packed full of features, mostly because it doesn’t really need them. It picks one thing and sticks to it. It streams your Pandora stations either via Wi-Fi, or an ethernet cable (included). You can browse through your Pandora stations, and use the “Thumb-up” or “Thumb-down” buttons just like you would on your PC. A headphone jack is located on the front along with aux in and out on the rear.
This is probably one of the most simplistic radios I’ve seen in a while. They were going with the old adage “less is more.” On the front you’ll find a rather large speaker, an LCD screen, large knob, six buttons and a headphone jack. On the rear you’ll find the auxiliary in and out ports, an ethernet jack and a spot for the power cord. There’s really nothing else to be seen.
At no point do you ever connect the Livio Radio to your computer, which would make you think that setup could be a little difficult. In all honesty, it really isn’t. You do have to use your computer to go to the registration page, which will eventually program your Livio for you. You do have to spend a bit of time either turning the knob or poking buttons on the remote when you’re setting things like the WEP key for your wireless network. It can be a little annoying, but it’s over rather quickly. Once finished, you’ll have access to all of your Pandora stations, or you can make new ones if you’re new to the service.
Ease Of Use
Once you’ve setup the Livio, it is easy as pie to use. You just hit the power button, select the station that you want, and it starts playing your music. You can skip songs and use the thumb-up or thumb-down button when you so desire. Changing stations is also only a few clicks away.
Having only a single speaker definitely has its drawbacks. The quality isn’t bad, but it isn’t going to blow you away either. If you’re just listening to it in the kitchen, or other smaller room you’ll enjoy it just fine. Thankfully they included an auxiliary output so that you can hook it up to a larger set of speakers when you need some extra power.
I noticed that if you left the device powered off for a while, it would occasionally lose the time. On more than one occasion I noticed that it was off by a few hours. It pulls its time from the internet, so simply turning it back on fixed the issue.
Overall, I love the Livio Radio. It is a simple device that looks good in just about any room and pumps out my Pandora stations. I don’t need any fancy wires, and I don’t have to mess with using my iPhone to output music (Since all but one of my docks requires me to put it in Airplane Mode). The audio could be better, but you can always hook it into your home theater if you want. The $199 price is a bit steep, but if you’ve got the cash and love music, it’s worth it.
[ Livio ]