Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Getting around...

Towers of Kraków's St. Mary's Basilica against a blue sky.

Monday, 21 April 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of the Revo Blik Wifi

The Revo Blik Wifi is a Reciva based Internet radio. This thing costs £100 which isn't cheap, so I'm going to be critical where it's due.

As with all the Reciva based Internet radios the Blik connects to your wireless network, and accesses a (large) list of stations from the Reciva site, which can then be browsed by genre or country on the radio. It can take up to a minute to connect, and fails occasionally requiring a restart, so don't buy this if you're thinking of using it as a bedside radio alarm. ("Sorry I'm late for work boss, my alarm clock failed to connect to the Internet.") I've also found that the connection typically drops after about half an hour. I've read about others also having the same problem, and as my laptop doesn't exhibit the same issue, this isn't a problem with the wireless network.

By registering the radio with Reciva, you can populate a list of your favourite stations, as well as add podcasts to a "My Stuff" menu for quicker access. The main selling point of the Blik and other Reciva radios to those of us in the UK is the support for the Real audio format, and therefore the BBC's live and “listen again” streams. Stations using MP3, AAC, WMA, and Ogg Vorbis are also supported. It also has an FM receiver.

Looks are obviously subjective, but I think it looks great; it doesn't go for the currently popular retro look, which is a welcome distinction. Its single speaker is also sufficient for the quality of online streams you can expect, but it has stereo RCA jacks in order to connect it to an external amplifier. The build quality seems sturdy.

The crux of the matter however, and I believe this may be a problem with many if not all of the Reciva based radios, is the separation of the brand (Revo) from the functionality (provided by Reciva). The problems with the radio, the main one being the frustratingly regular half-hour disconnects, are issues which could be fixed through firmware updates. The firmware updates are provided by Reciva (as it is their technology), but have to be authorised (and paid for?) by Revo. Out of the box there was one firmware update available which actually dropped the reported version number of the software running on the radio. However there is nowhere to see what each software version actually fixes, so I don't know what I gained or lost.

This is my second Blik (the first one died when I did a factory reset), and the first had a number of additional problems: it would stay connected and continue to play the last station when turned off, which you could hear out of the RCA jacks. This is fixed with the second model, but have the fixes been made available via an update? I don't know.

My recommendation, assuming you put as much weight on the BBC's offerings as I do, is to keep using your laptop until the roll-out of new formats from the BBC, and see what products the market responds with. Or indeed how the Reciva based radios adapt once their "Real Enabled" selling point becomes moot.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Getting around...

Le Billare in the Pyrénées, 2309m. Never.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The flying swan.