Roberts Stream 105 June 2011
Roberts Stream 105 internet radio
Going digital with your radio doesn't have to mean DAB. With the Roberts Stream 105 you can listen to internet radio stations, podcasts, listen again programmes and stream music from your computer. We haven't lab-tested the Stream 105 yet, but here are our first impressions.
Finding the stations you want to listen to among hundreds of others can make using internet radios a nightmare. Take a closer look at the Roberts Stream 105 wi-fi internet radio as we navigate through its menus in our video review.
So this is the Roberts Stream 105 radio. Now, what's really curious about this one compared to any other digital radio we've tested is that there is no DAB and there's no FM. This is purely an Internet radio. And it seems really curious because the first thing you do when you take it out of the box, you feel around for aerial like you've got on this one, which almost like a baby version, but this is the DAB radio, the classic dub.
You'll see the aerial here. Now, when you start up it's actually quite simple to get going, scary as it can seem trying to connect things to the Internet. You press the on button and it brings you up a wizard that asks you if you want to start connecting straightaway. Now, you've got a few options in terms of how you connect.
You can connect via WPS, Windows Protected Setup, which is quite simple, if your router's compatible with that. It's just a press of a button on either side on here and on the router, and they'll find each other. Now if you don't have that, you might need to put in the network cable which is a slightly longer-winded process, but it's not too bad.
The controls on here are very limited. You've got this wheel here, that you'll see on the classic DAB. And it has nice click to it, a nice rubbery feel to it. And you press it to make your selections. Tough it can be a bit long-winded trying to put in your network using just this dial. Once you're actually connected to the internet it's really easy to get going.
You're options are that you can listen to internet radio, and you can also listen to podcasts and to listen Again. Now, it's quite easy to find the stationst you want, although it takes a little while. Again, using this dial here, here you can scroll to find the name of the station that you want, so you can start typing it in.
By letter-by-letter, and then search, and it will return anything with those kind of keywords in it. It's a similar situation if you're looking for podcasts or listen to game shows. You start typing it in, then you can find it. Now one of the nice things about this radio is that when you are actually listening to the podcast, you can save them as a favorite, so if there's one you listen to all the time or like a listen again show you listen to frequently.
Let's say you listen to a lot of Ken Bruce in the morning. So you've saved his show as a regular listen again, as a favorite. Now, it's really easy to see which day's show you're looking at, obviously, he's on daily. So, with some other radios that I've actually looked at before, you kind of find that the name of the show is really quite long and the date is on the end and you have to kind of hover over it and wait for the text to scroll across until you can see which day the show is for.
With this one it actually shows you the date on every single one. As well as connecting to the internet with this radio, you can also listen to music on your MP3 player. So if you have a look on the back here, there's a 3.5 mil aux input there that you can use. This USB port is just for upgrades it's not for connecting.
You can you've also got a headphone port. You can also use the radio to play music that's stored on your computer, as long as it's on the same network.
What you do is select the media player function on the radio. It'll look to see what devices are attached, you select your computer from the list, and it'll list all the music that's available on there, and you can just select the tracks and play them through the radio.
It's got some bedside radio type functions too. You can just about see the clock in standby, you can't change the brightness. It's also got two alarm functions. And you can select the volume that the alarm comes on at as well. Which is a bit useful cause you don't want to wake up to a really loud radio show in the morning if you had it on quite loud at night.
One thing to be careful of is that you can only select to wake up to an internet radio station or a buzzer. And the internet stations are selected from your presets, of which you have ten available. So, the thing is if the radio can't find the station that you listen to, it will default to the buzzer, which could leave you with a rude awakening, if it's having trouble in the morning.
There's also a snooze function on this radio. By pressing this button, once the alarm sounds, you can snooze it, and there's a sleep timer as well so you can drift off to some music if you like. So that's a whistlestop tour of the internet-only Roberts Stream 105 radio. We'll be putting it through our tests as soon as we can, but if you're interested in a model that maybe has DAB or FM as well, go and check our reviews at which.co.uk
The first thing that strikes you as you set up the Stream 105 is the lack of an aerial. That's because this radio doesn't need an adjustable aerial – it doesn't have FM or DAB – it only receives internet radio and the wi-fi antenna is built-in
The lack of FM and DAB is unusual, but not ridiculous – the government hopes to move the UK towards a digital radio switchover, after which national stations will no longer be available on FM. Internet radio easily delivers on any promises of ‘more stations’ being available on digital radio platforms – a wealth of listening choice from all over the world is accessible via the internet and is something DAB can't offer.
Find out more about the digital radio switchover in our Digital radio switchover explained guide.
Connecting up devices to wi-fi is normally really easy, but if it doesn't work first time finding the problem can be a bit of a pain.
Connecting the Stream 105 to our wi-fi network was more of the former. You can only connect the radio to the internet using wi-fi, there’s no cable option, so you’ll need a wireless router at home. When you switch the radio on for the first time it asks if you want to start up the network connection wizard.
There are numerous ways of connecting the radio to your home network. If your router has Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) you can connect with just a push of the button on the router and the radio, which is really easy. Other options include entering the network key into the radio. Whichever of the options you choose to connect via, the radio guides you through each step.
There’s no touchscreen – most of the navigation is done by turning the volume dial and pressing it to make a selection – this keeps things pretty simple.
Entering passwords involves quite a bit of wheel turning and pressing – leaving us feeling a bit like a safe cracker as we spun the dial and clicked it to select characters. The display is quite small and so is the text, but the process was easier than with many of the other internet radios we've tried that also don't include touchscreens.
Finding a station
Saving frequently listened to stations as presets or favourites is a must. Although the Stream 105 lets you search for stations by country, name or even by entering a keyword, this still involves a fair amount of dial turning and clicking to drill down through menus.
You can save up to 10 stations as presets, accessible by using the dedicated preset button and then turning and pressing the dial to make your selection.
Favourites are unlimited, but of course the more you save, the more scrolling you’ll have to do to access the one you want. You can save podcasts or 'listen again' shows as favourites too.
As searching for stations from the full list or even by keyword can be time consuming, we can't emphasise enough the importance of saving stations and shows you like as favourites or presets. There’s also a 'new stations' option in the menu if you're feeling adventurous and want to try something new.
For a portable radio, sound is reasonable, but not stunning. Sound doesn't break up too much as you crank up the volume, but you can't adjust the bass or treble on this model – if you like your music bassy, the Stream 105 may not be the best choice for you. We'll have to wait until it goes to our lab before we can comment on how it compares to other models we've tested.
Something to note with regard to listening to internet radio is the time delay. When we tried out the Stream 105, the streamed sound was around 20 seconds behind the DAB radio we used to listen to the same station at the same time – something to note if you have more than one radio on playing the same station when you’re at home.
A time lag is expected with any internet radio, but how long the delay is will vary depending on your broadband speed.
As well as access to live internet radio, you can listen to podcasts and BBC listen again shows on the Stream 105 – found in 'podcast' on the radios main menu. As with live internet radio, you can filter the list of available podcasts and shows in numerous ways including by keyword.
If the listen again show you're looking for is daily, a few shows by that DJ will be available to listen to again. The dates of the shows are easy to see on this model, which will help you to find the show you're looking for, although you still have to go through a couple of filters to get that far.
Being able to tune into listen again shows at your leisure may be appealing, but you can't fast forward or rewind them. If you want to hear a particular part of a show you have to listen from the beginning - a major limitation compared to podcasts on an MP3 player.
If you store your music on a computer at home, the Stream 105's music player mode may come in handy. It lets you stream music to the radio from other devices on your wi-fi network, so you could stream music from your laptop to the radio and listen using the radio's speaker. Music is streamed using a feature called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), and the devices you stream from must be compatible with this.
We found setting up the connection between the radio and a laptop less straight forward than setting up the wi-fi connection.
We had no problem hooking up our Windows 7 laptop, but even though Windows Media Player version 11 supports UPnP we struggled to get our laptop (running Windows Vista) to stream to the radio. Security software and settings can make it difficult to stream to other devices, so setting up the connection for the first time may involve a bit of fiddling with settings when connecting to a computer.
The Stream 105 also has a 3.5mm auxiliary input on the back so you can connect up and play your MP3 player or iPod through the radio's speaker. You'll need a separate cable to connect it up.
Want a digital radio you can use to play music from your MP3 player? We've tested more than 40 digital radios with a 3.5mm input socket.
Bedside and portable radio
The Stream 105 includes two programmable alarms, a snooze and a sleep function. The snooze is activated by pressing the main volume dial after the alarm goes off.
The sleep timer steps up in increments and can be programmed to a maximum of two hours.
It also has a battery compartment for six C size batteries and a carry handle for portable use. Roberts says a set of batteries are expected to provide around 15 to 20 hours of listening. Of course you’ll still need to be in range of a wi-fi connection to listen to internet radio on the move.
Although the Stream 105 is versatile enough to be used in the kitchen, on a bedside table and even away from the mains, the lack of analogue or DAB tuners makes it a bit of a niche product. The controls are simple to use, but as with any model that includes internet radio access, finding stations – or at least initially getting your favourite ones set up as presets – feels like a bit of a long winded process.
The Roberts Stream 105 is due to be available in stores from 20th June, with an RRP of £100.
Pros: Uncluttered control panel, easy to use controls, bedside features, portable, media streaming
Cons: Small text on display, dial makes typing slow, lots of menus to navigate through, no FM, DAB or wired internet connection
You may also be interested in:
- Which? reviews of digital radios with internet radio
- Pure Sensia first look
- How to buy the best digital radio
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