Digital radios: Online radio How to listen online
There are more stations to choose from on internet radio than there are on either FM or DAB digital radio and you can get it on your computer as well as on some radios and mobile phones.
Internet radio gives you access to stations from other countries – great if you living away from home – and the opportunity to listen to some shows again.
Some digital radios can stream internet radio as well as playing FM and DAB broadcasts. In fact, you don’t necessarily have to have DAB on your radio to get internet radio. The Roberts Streamtime bedside radio we’ve tested only has FM and internet radio.
A dedicated DAB/internet/FM radio may have better speakers than your computer and will enable you to listen to online radio stations away from the computer. You will need broadband and a wireless router to listen on an internet radio.
Use the compare features function in our digital radios reviews to find the best-sounding internet radios.
DAB FM internet radios will also provide access to radio ‘listen again' programmes. With ‘listen again’ you can hear your favourite BBC radio shows at a time that suits you - you need never miss an episode of The Archers again.
However, it’s worth noting that the screens on some DAB/internet/FM radios are quite small and this can make it more difficult to find the show you want, especially if it’s one broadcast daily – there will be more to choose from.
Listen to music online
Internet radio opens up a whole world of new radio stations. A list of internet stations can be found at www.radiolocator.com.
Windows or Real formats are often used for streaming internet radio if you’re listening on your computer. You'll need Windows Media Player or the free version of RealPlayer.
When installing RealPlayer, print and read the license agreement carefully. It includes instructions on how to turn off the service messages that pop-up on screen periodically. You can also decline marketing emails by unticking the appropriate boxes.
Listening to internet radio shows involves streaming data to your computer, or whatever device you’re listening on.
If your broadband or mobile phone deal has a data limit, listening to internet radio will contribute to this.
BBC Radio 1 and 2 are streamed at a bitrate of up to 128kbps (kilobits per second). Based on this, one hour of listening will use approximately 56MB (megabits) of your data allowance.
Radio 3 is streamed as a slightly higher rate of up to 192kbps, whereas Radio 5 live is streamed at only around 48kbps. We test DAB radios for sound quality and internet radios for the sound quality of tracks streamed at a rate of 128kbps.
For more information on finding the best value for money broadband deals, see our broadband reviews.