Roberts WM201 Internet Radio

I recently bought a Roberts WM201 Internet Radio. I’ve used it for a while now and thought I’d post my thoughts.

First of all, I was looking for a radio meeting certain criteria, it needed wifi, I wanted it to pack a reasonable punch since it would essentially be my main music source, it needed to support upnp media servers. I also wanted it to have an integrated transformer so that it would not have a bulky mains lead since I wanted it for my rather small kitchen. Finally I wanted it to be semi portable, so I could move it from room to room without too much fuss.

The WM201 meets all these criteria, and is based on the Reciva technology that has been well received by a few of my friends, notably Paddy and Noodles. The radio is a pretty good size, not too large and not too small, and feels really solid. It has a wired network port as well as wireless capability which is great. For complex reasons, when it first arrived I had no internet connection (no gasps, I was making do with 3G hookups). That being the case I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the internet radio functionality itself working. But I figured I’d set up a local lan and get the mediatomb server on my development machine working. I was able to hook up to the LAN and enter the WPA password, but it just would not play with any functionality whatsoever if it doesn’t see the servers it expects to. Now Noodles has suggested my geek privileges should be revoked for not working out how much of the internet I had to fake to get it to work. He may well have a point! In my defense I had plenty of other issues to deal with instead.

About a week later I got my net connection, albeit temporarily since some work was needed on the cable. So while the network was up I was finally able to get into all the functionality, and I was really impressed, the small display and control is really intuitive and the shipped remote control is excellent. When it came time for the external network connection to be severed again, I quickly switched the device over to streaming media from a playlist on mediatomb, but interestingly it still gave that up midway when the external connection went down. Dumb, but forgivable.

So again, what’s good? It offers brilliant sound, and more volume than I could wish for. It’s easy to browse through the huge array of stations, and for things like the BBC stations, it has a good interface to the “listen again” service. It works seamlessly with mediatomb on my PC. All excellent. A minor grumble is that it’s not easy to switch briefly from a radio station to the playlist on mediatomb and back again, you have to go through all the menus every time. The number of stations is so huge, finding them can be a little slow, but you can as you would expect, save them to a preferred list. I hit a problem with that; my saved BBC stations have spontaneously stopped working, just showing endless retrying messages. When I go back through the menus it’s all fine. Odd.

The radio becomes better yet when you use the Reciva portal to set up your “stuff”, a list of your preferred stations and podcasts. Obviously it’s much easier to do this on a web page, and then you simply register your radio. Now (it seemed to require a hard power cycle for me) the radio has an extra “My Stuff” menu which gives really easy access to your favourite stations and allows you to quickly select podcasts, far faster than navigating on the radio. An odd note, if you for example navigate through “listen again” in the normal way, you can fast forward, pause and rewind the playing media. But if the same stream is selected from the podcast menu in “My Stuff”, you can’t. A slight annoyance.

I’d really recommend the device overall, it’s great. Incidentally the cheapest prices I could find were on Amazon by some distance, but time and time again, I would select a seller and only at the final hurdle be told they wouldn’t ship to Northern Ireland. I’ve complained about this before, it would be useful to know rather sooner that I’m wasting my time. Anyway, I found a simple way to work out which sellers ship to Northern Ireland and find the cheapest of those. I selected one from each and every seller on Amazon. Then when I went to checkout I removed all those that caused complaints. It was then easy to find the cheapest remaining seller. Much faster than trying them one at a time.

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