Sonicbox tuner lets PC users pull in faraway stations

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May 29, 2000

Sonicbox tuner lets PC users pull in faraway stations

The promise of Internet radio comes through clearly with the Sonicbox iM Remote Tuner, a PC add-on that pulls in faraway radio stations.

At $75, the device approaches its goal of making Internet radio as simple as tuning an FM dial, at least for 800 preset stations.

Listeners can add a few of their own favorite stations that broadcast across the Internet, too.

The prerelease unit we saw consists of several pieces that wirelessly transmit PC sound to an FM radio and allow a listener to choose stations by remote control.

This all sounds and even looks a bit complicated, but the Sonicbox sets up fairly easily and works simply. The device requires a computer running Windows 98 or higher.

Listeners can plug their headphones into a wireless receiver for walking around the house. But that invites static, even within the stated range. Sonicbox Inc. says the receiver can be 100 feet from the PC and the tuner can be 65 feet from the PC.

The Sonicbox tuner, however, can't find archived or special broadcasts. So I had to go to the PC to dial up the latest St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.

Still, the Sonicbox allowed me to listen to the Cardinals downstairs while the PC sat upstairs, a treat for someone living cross-country from Busch Stadium.

Sonicbox Inc. is still refining the iM Remote Tuner, which is expected to be available by midyear.

Information: 1-650-967-4842 or www.sonicbox.com.

-- David LaGesse/KRT

Portable Sony CD player guards against skipping

Being a typical rip-it-open type of guy who always thought instruction booklets were for dummies, I finally met my match with the Sony CD Walkman with G-Protection.

I was flat-out intimidated by the combination of 26 buttons, dials, levers, switches and displays on the player. But after following the simple directions, I was enjoying quality audio in about 10 minutes.

Sony changed the name of its premium CD players from Discman to CD Walkman, with models that range in price from $80 to $200. I tested the high-end model D-EJ815. It includes rechargeable batteries, stereo headphones, full-function remote control, an external battery case, AC power adapter and a "hand-grip" carrying case. This sleek, $149.95 aluminum (or blue) colored unit weighs only about 7 ounces and is 0.75-inch thick.

In Sony's parlance, G-Protection means virtually skip-free, a technology targeted at active people. Most skips are prevented before you hear them because the memory buffer is kept filled, allowing music to play continuously.

Sony also improved the laser diode to consume less power. With the batteries provided, Sony says users should get about 10 to 11 hours of play on a four-hour charge. By buying four alkaline batteries and placing the external battery case on a flat and stable surface, the unit is designed to play up to 76 hours.

Information: 1-800-488-7669 or www.world.sony.com.

-- Harold Scull Jr./KRT

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