Monday, January 07, 2013

BBC DQF Local Radio - Part 2

- BBC Local Radio weekday evenings now consolidated

In a post in late 2011 I wrote about the plans to save money in BBC local radio by having a single show across all of the networks. At that time the idea was to have the show in the afternoon - do you remember the ensuing protests to save Danny Baker's show (BBC London).
Well things changed a bit since then. Danny (along with some other afternoon presenters kept their job - although Danny subsequently found his position axed in late 2012) and the consolidation has happened in the evening slot.
Today it went live. The new show takes the name of the presenter "Mark Forrest".
All of the BBC local radio stations in England and Channel Islands now carry it - but they have opt-outs for local sport or other locally significant news - and for the launch show tonight all but Gloucester and Mersyside were broadcasting it.

Compare this schedule view to the ones that I posted in 2011.

If you listened, what did you think of it?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Running SqueezeSlave on Raspberry Pi

- Running SqueezeSlave on Raspberry Pi

Getting Squeezeslave to run on the RPi is very easy - here is a revised version of the instructions that I posted on the Raspberry PI forum.
NOTE: This has been tested on Debian Squeeze (and I think it also works on Wheezy) - but will almost certainly need some updated to work on hard-float builds such as Raspbian and has been updated since first published to include instructions for Raspbian Wheezy (the hardfloat version of Debian that is endorsed by Raspberry Pi Foundation).
Version numbers shown here were correct when this blog was written but it is possible that newer versions have been released since then ... and they might work better (or worse) so check on Sourceforge (for official release) and GoogleCode (for latest test versions).


Most of what is shown below could be copied to a script and run - but there is no error checking so it is best to run as individual commands - e.g. copy / paste into SSH session

NOTE: Some of the lines below are very long and get wrapped when presented in the blog.
I have left a blank line after those long lines to make it clearer. If you are using copy/paste to replay the commands then make sure that you take the full line and unwrap it if needed.

Start an interactive login to the Raspberry Pi then ...

mkdir squeezeslavesrc
cd squeezeslavesrc
# If on Debian (not Raspbian) then perform the next 2 commands
wget http://sourceforge.net/projects/softsqueeze/files/squeezeslave/squeezeslave-1.2.311/squeezeslave-1.2-311-armel-lnx26.tar.gz

tar -xvf squeezeslave-1.2-311-armel-lnx26.tar.gz


# If on Raspbian (a hardfloat version of Debian) then perform the next 3 commands
wget http://squeezeslave.googlecode.com/files/squeezeslave-1.2-367-armhf-lnx31.tar.gz

tar -xvf squeezeslave-1.2-367-armhf-lnx31.tar.gz

mv squeezeslave-1.2-367 squeezeslave




# at this point you have the various binaries for ARM/Linux so no need to build from source
# and you now have enough to run squeezeslave
# however, by downloading some more files you can make it easier to start/stop squeezeslave

# to test what you already have - assuming you are already running LMS somewhere on the same LAN
# type
./squeezeslave -L
# if this lists audio device(s) then things will probably work for you
# if there are none then try (note - this should not be necessary on Raspbian)
sudo modprobe snd-bcm2835
# and then
./squeezeslave -L

# to run it as a player ...
./squeezeslave -D -F
# to quit from that display mode hit the "q" key
# remember - if you are doing this via SSH from a different room then
# you will only hear something if you are at the device (e.g. the speakers on your TV!)

# If it acts like it is playing something but you cannot hear it then it might be that the sound on the Raspberry PI is set too low (in ALSA).
# In that case - quit (q) Squeezeslave and run
sudo alsamixer
then boost the sound by pressing the up arrow key (and the "esc" key to exit and then try running Squeezeslave again

# assuming all was OK from above - then you can do more to automate the startup


wget http://sourceforge.net/projects/softsqueeze/files/squeezeslave/squeezeslave-1.2.311/squeezeslave-1.2-311-src.tar.bz2

# If you do not have bzip2 on your system you might need
sudo apt-get install bzip2

tar -xjvf squeezeslave-1.2-311-src.tar.bz2

sudo cp squeezeslave /usr/bin

sudo cp squeezeslave-1.2-311/config/squeezeslave.init.debian /etc/init.d/squeezeslave

sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/squeezeslave

sudo update-rc.d squeezeslave defaults

echo "SBSHOST=\"-F\"" > defaultsqueezeslave

# the backslashes above are needed to make the quotation marks go into the file
# if you look at the file afterwards it should look like this
# SBSHOST="-F"

# if you needed to run the modprobe to get sound working then also do this
echo "modprobe snd-bcm2835" >> defaultsqueezeslave

# then copy the file over to become the default configuration for SqueezeSlave
# Done this way because trying to use sudo to echo direct to /etc/default does not work on some builds

sudo cp defaultsqueezeslave /etc/default/squeezeslave

# then to start it ...
sudo /etc/init.d/squeezeslave start
# and to stop it (for example if something else is trying to use the audio port and sharing not working)
sudo /etc/init.d/squeezeslave stop

# it should start automatically on the next reboot of your Raspberry Pi

Here is a short video showing the result ... to be honest there is not much to see because it SqueezeSlave is running in the background. However, it does show how quickly the Raspberry Pi reboots.



I also had this synchronising with a couple of real Squeezeboxes. It needed some tweaks to the timing offsets in LMS to get it to be closely in sync.

If you plan to add more SqueezeSlave devices to your set-up then you will need to change the fake MAC address that SqueezeSlave uses. It defaults to 00:00:00:00:00:01
I will probably update the default to set the SqueezeSlave MAC address to be the real MAC address of the Raspberry Pi (which in turn is usually derived from the serial number of the device).

If you did download and unpack the source - then it is also possible to build your own copy of SqueezeSlave. I did this as well and it worked - but you have to build the "contribs" as well to get the ARM version. I might update this blog entry with how to do it if there is some interest.
Remember, though, if you are on Raspbian then start from a software release that is known to work on hard-float (armhf).

September 2012 - updated with some extra information for Raspbian users

Sunday, October 09, 2011

BBC DQF Local Radio

- BBC DQF and Local Radio

The BBC DQF* proposals include significant changes for BBC Local Radio.
The main change is for those that listen in the afternoon.
One plan is to reduce the number of different shows that are on around the country and, for example, have nearby regions share a show.

I have attached 2 pictures - from my BBC Local Radio listings. The first show the afternoon and the second the evening.
You will see that there is already a lot of "show sharing" in the evenings - so I guess that the afternoons will end up looking somewhat similar - in other words the shows become less "local".

If you do listen, or know people that do, or if you have other reasons for caring about this (whether agreeing or disagreeing) then BBC is wants feedback at http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/dqf/


You can see the two screenshots by clicking on the image below

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mobile applications using Reciva database

- Reciva on the go

Update: Radiostar app updated mid-Feb 2011

The Reciva database of thousands of radio stations and On Demand content (Podcasts and "Listen Again") is used within many different radio devices - many of which I have mentioned here before. There is also an application from Grace Digital that is able to control a Reciva-based radio over UPnP, but until very recently there has not been a software-only application that uses the Reciva database.
Reciva announced a framework to support such things long ago - Reciva Connect.

Finally in February 2010 there is something that uses it - in fact there are two iPhone/iPod Touch applications.

The first off the block, at the start of February, was easybox from Switzerland with their "Radiostar" application.



This application features searching and playing stations from the Reciva database and adds the ability to recommend to friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook.

It can also show what friends are recommending - however, I think it was finding people outside my personal friends list. The developers told me that they would take a look to try to resolve (or explain) it.


The use of the back-end Reciva system is relatively simple for now - it allows searching and browsing through the stations and then playing them. Included is the "Now Playing" information from SHOUTcast-compatible streams and a small level meter jumps around at the bottom of the screen.

They describe it like this:

Radiostar: The Social Internet Radio Player

Radiostar lets you stream more than 10,000 stations from the award winning Reciva directory service directly to your iPhone. Interact with your friends, see what they are listening to, recommend a station on your Facebook timeline and tweet directly from within the application.

- 10,000+ radio stations from the Reciva directory
- Support of the MP3 and AAC audio codecs (Feb 2011 update adds WMA)
- Facebook integration: see what ones friends are listening to or recommending, post recommendation to the facebook news feed
- Twitter integration: tweet which station you are listening to
- Browse stations by location and genre
- Search a station by name
- Stream over WiFi and, if desired, over 3G/EDGE
- Support of many playlist formats like PLS, RAM, M3U and ASX
- Feb 2011 update adds
-Plays On Demand content (Listen Again material)
-Supports Apple AirPlay so can stream to devices like Apple TV




The launch price is 1.79GBP.




When comparing with a Reciva-based radio there are a number of other things that are missing.
For example
- being able to access "On Demand" content (Feb 2011 update resolves this)
- "My Stuff" list that users can maintain via the Reciva web site
- extra codecs (e.g. OGG, RealAudio and WMA) (Feb 2011 update adds WMA)
They have acknowledged that a priority is to add support for WMA (and have included it on Feb 2011 update)

Then, like the buses, another app follows quickly behind ... "Reciva iRadio" ... it is from Reciva themselves.


It costs more (2.79GBP at launch) - and lacks the social network integration, but adds in a lot more integration with the Reciva back-end system plus support for WMA and OGG.

Here is how Reciva promote theirs:
Listen to thousands of radio stations from all over the globe, from local AM/FM stations to DAB, HD Radio, DMB, Satellite and Internet only streams! Available on your iPhone using 3G and WiFi or iPod Touch using WiFi. You can listen to it all on the Reciva iRadio app...

Using a industry recognised leader of Internet Radio platforms, the Reciva directory of audio streams will give you access to News, Sports, Music, Weather, Travel plus over 60 other Genres. You can also choose from over 150 locations all over the world so you will never be without your local station, however far from home you travel.

Catch-up radio is also available via the 'Listen Again' feature (subject to availability from individual station), and you can store your favourites for instant access to the stations you want to listen to. With a fully functioning search option, a recommendation engine and access to thousands of podcasts you have everything you need from a radio app..

Register your Reciva iRadio app at www.radios.reciva.com to add additional features!

Key Features

· Reciva Radio directory featuring over 17,000 live streams, 30,000 on-demand streams and 10,000+ podcasts
· Easy to use interface
· Store favourites directly to the app or via the Reciva website
· Search by Location, Genre or Keyword
· Pause live radio
· Play all stream formats including AAC, MP3, WMA and Ogg Vorbis
· Instantly view your listening history
· Add your own podcast feeds to your favourites list
· See station logos where available
· Play in background
· Create folders of your favourite stations so you can easily access lists like your summer or Christmas music
· Get recommendations based on your listening habits
· Enter your custom URLs for stations not available on the Reciva database


Reciva iRadio claims more stations than Radiostar because of the additional codec support. It is the WMA support that provides the biggest additional set (at present there are 5983 WMA stations marked as "Passed" in the Reciva database).
Unlike the Radiostar application, there is no presentation of the title/artist information and no level meters.





Navigation through regions to stations is similar to other applications.









Also - I could not find a way to update the "My Stuff" information from within the application - but maybe I have not found the right way to do it yet.


I have bought both and have them up and running. For me, both work as advertised. All I need now is a much longer lasting battery on my iPhone!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CES 2010 roundup

- What was new (in internet radio) at CES 2010?

I have been to a couple of CES events in Las Vegas over the last few years. The glitz of the strip seems like the right atmosphere for this huge event. However, this year I attended only vicariously through various blogs and news releases.

With 2700 exhibitors covering the whole of the consumer elexctroics world you can imagine that internet-enabled audio devices do not get the same sort coverage as 3D-TV or tablet devices.

Anyway - there were only a few internet radio items of note that I noticed.
In this post I have picked out the Innovation Awards "Honoree" status but none made it to "Best of".


Pure - announced it is now selling products in America.
They have listed an office in San Francisco and I presume have tweaked some of the devices (e.g. remove DAB, FM tuning steps, ensure power supplies work).
There is a new sub-set of their site at http://www.pure.com/us
New models previewed (due to ship later in 2010) were the Oasis Flow and Sirocco 550.
Pure Oasis Flow and Scirocco 550


The Oasis Flow looks, at first glance, the same as their old splashproof Oasis DAB radio. It has touch controls and OLED display (like the Evoke Flow) and adds FM plus Internet radio.
The Sirocco 550 is a mini-hifi featuring radio (Internet, DAB/DAB+/DMB and FM), CD, iPod Dock and USB for flash drive. Sound promises to be good, with a CLass-D amp and 40W RMS per channel.

Naim - launched the UnitiQute a sibling to their Uniti (which arrived around May 2009).


This high-spec device has a preamplifier with two analogue inputs, five 24bit/192kHz-capable digital inputs and conventional radio (DAB/FM) along with internet radio (vTuner powered). It can also play from UPnP-AV sources along with a USB socket to play from a Flash drive and proper Apple iPod connectivity. It also comes with a large remote control.



Compared to the Uniti, it lacks the CD drive and appears to have a slightly lower spec analogue preamp.
Looks like the price will be around 2000 USD.


Logitech - picked up 7 honoree awards overall - 2 of which were from the ex-Slimdevices group - namely the Squeezebox Radio and the (not yet shipping) Squeezebox Touch. Both have been extensively covered here before - so not so much to say this time.

Sonos - had an award for the Controller 200 and ZonePlayer S5 - again products covered here before.


A related group is the IMDA - Internet Media Device Alliance - held one of their meetings at the event - http://www.imdalliance.org/
Hopefully we will see some progress on standards for use by broadcasters, device suppliers and software builders that will further enhance how internet radio access on-line content ... audio and related information (for example cover art, biographies, "buy now" and EPGs should all become easier to access and present).
Last year they published presentations from their CES event on their site - so watch out for it happening again this year.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Remote control of Reciva-based radios

- Controlling your Reciva radio without touching it

Many, but not all, internet radios come with a remote control. Sometimes they are very simple credit-card sized devices, sometimes they can be big dedicated boxes needing two hands to use with all sorts in between.

Basic models tend to use infrared and more sophisticated use TCP/IP over Wi-Fi - with a proprietary application protocol on top.

The underlying firmware in the Reiva-based radios generally have infrared control enabled even if there is no infrared hardware included in the radio. This fact has been exploited by a few people who have opened up their radios and inserted a supported infrared detector (one directly wired to the Barracuda board and another simply using the USB connection ... but I cannot find it while writing this).
Some other Reciva users have gone down a software route by using the unofficial Sharpfin patch to run a small web server on the radio and have it present a simple web interface that in turn performs some radio management commands. An example of this is documented in the Sharpfin mailing list.

However, Reciva have been working away quietly in the background and have implemented a way to achieve almost complete control of the radio (including managing the alarms, examining presets, tuning to radio stations and even browing the menu).
The initial implementation of UPnP-AV (aka DLNA) within the Reciva software performed the basic minimum - allowing it to access a media server and allowing the user to browse the music then select and play tracks.
This was extended to all external control points to send music to it - but the big addition was to add a Reciva specific service (RecivaRadio:0.0) that opened up much more of the proprietary capabilities of the radios.

A regular UPnP-AV controller will not know how to use these functions - so using them requires custom software. But the open nature of this (standard protocols and self-documenting web services calls) means that building something is relatively straight-forward ... using existing tools I was reading presets, searching the database and changing stations in less than 15 minutes.

This service is what I presume is being used by the Grace Digital remote control for the iPhone & iPod Touch.

If you plan to build something then here are some pointers - and let me know via a comment here or direct via other routes:
Check the power-on status - since some commands will not work if the radio is (soft) powered off.
Some of the calls require the use of a NavigatorId - obtain one with RegisterNavigator. This can then be used for the session - and should be released at the end with ReleaseNavigator (otherwise, I presume, the radio will eventually run out of memory).
The local controls at the radio appear to be disabled while controlling from remote - which may well be the most important reason to ReleaseNavigator.

Presets:
There can be more presets supported in the software than are accessible via the buttons on the device itself. Plus - the number available can be different on each radio. So use GetNumberOfPresets to determine how many there can be.
GetPreset returns the data of a single preset. Preset0 is a special case - it is automatically set to be the last station played.
Presets can be set in 2 ways - one is via SetPreset (see the return from a GetPreset to better understand the data required) and the other is to set the current playing station to a preset via SaveCurrentStationAsPreset
Tune to a given preset with PlayPreset.

Stations:
The station database can be searched (SearchForStationByName) and browsed (GetMenu).
It is also possible to get the station logo.
Here is an example of the return from one of these (GetPlaybackDetails):

<reciva>
<playback-details>
<state>Playing</state>
<station id="9256" custommenuid="0">
<logo>http://www.dandelionradio.com/images/logo.jpg</logo>
</station>
<playlist-entry></playlist-entry>
<stream id="fa3be23929b7339f9d2ce90f2c84ec37">
<url>http://www.dandelionradio.com/DandelionRadio.pls</url>
<title>Dandelion Radio</title>
<album-art-url>http://www.dandelionradio.com/images/logo.jpg</album-art-url>
</stream>
</playback-details>
</reciva>


Volume:
Take care here - some devices have an analogue volume control. So if the volume is turned down at the radio then you will not be able to adjust it from remote.


I have not yet managed to navgate the sub-menus - the item ids do not seem to work when I try them ... work in progress.

Some of the commands return an error (for example GetIsUpgradeAvailable) and there may well be differences between firmware versions (GetCurrentServicePack) - plus it returns all possible source types even if the hardware is not installed - so try to make your code flexible and extensible.

There is a lot more in there - such as:

  • Volume controls (up / down / mute)

  • Playlists (view list, change order, remove item)

  • Soft Power (on / off)

  • Alarms (view, set, delete)

  • Reply (equivalent to hitting the reply buttton)

  • Device (hardware id, upgrade, language)




For those who do not know how to examine the available services - but who are simply interested in knowing what is there ... I have uploaded a dump of the available set from firmware v257-a-865-a-400 (very recent beta) to the very useful "UPnP/AV Device Capability Database" being run as part of a research project at Institut für Pervasive Computing of Johannes Kepler Universität, Linz, Austria.

The specific entry for the recent firmware is at:
http://www.upnp-database.info/service.jsp?serviceId=464

You could help developers who do not have access to all radios/firmware by making your own upload of data by downloading the Magpie tool from their site. It would be particularly interesting to see the output from a Reciva-based Grace radio to check if there are any extra capabilities that are being used by their remote ... but I suspect that they have no more than is in the current firmware. If you do download and run the tool then make sure that it is not blocked by your firewall - and let it sit listening for a few minutes while waiting for a radio to advertise itself. Powering the radio off and on is likely to make it broadcast immediately. The radio should then appear on the left. Click on it - and it should start analysing. Once complete you can upload via the "Submit Data" button in the top left. After you finish the process you can view you new data on the site.
Note - there is not much point uploading data for a device/firmware combination that is already there so do browse the device list first (some of the names might not be obvious - and there a devices from all sorts of suppliers not just Reciva of course).

Control your Grace Digital (Reciva-based) radio from iPhone

- Grace release free iPhone app

*UPDATED to add info about Reciva-branded version

Grace Digital have released a free application to the Apple AppStore (for iPhone and iPod Touch) that can be used to control their range of Reciva-based internet radios (hence it does not work with their GDI-IRP600 which is not Reciva-based). UPDATE: In July 2010 a Reciva-branded version of the same application appeared (from PlugPlayer). This is not free but provides control for all modern Reciva-based radios.
Grace iPhone Remote

This is by no means the first internet radio that can be readily controlled by an iPhone application - there are excellent examples for Sonos (from Sonos) and Logitech Squeezebox (from 3rd-parties) plus Apple's own. But it is the irst that I am aware of for a Reciva-based device.

There are a few things to watch ut for. First off - make sure that you have recent firmware in the radio (at least v257-865-a-349) then if it is connected to your network wirelessly and you do not want to have to go and wake it up to control it then change the wifi configuration so that it stays connected while "sleeping".

It includes access to pretty well everything that you can do from the radio - including viewing presets, "My Stuff", accessing the alarms, changing volume (and muting), accessing Pandora (if you have it) plus accessing the entire Reciva library of stations.

I have not had a look at the underlying network communications to see how it works - but I suspect that it is using UPnP-AV for at least part of its operation (if not all of it). It does not work with non-Grace radios so I expect that it is looking for a manufacturer id or model number in the initial discovery process ... watch out for further reports.

You can watch an informative 4 minute video about it from Grace

Links:
Grace Digital Audio: http://www.gracedigitalaudio.com/iphone/
Reciva press release: http://corporate.reciva.com/pages/112#more-112

Roberts ColourStream

- Roberts' first touch-screen internet radio due soon
Roberts joining the band of suppliers of touch-screen internet radios.
The COLOURSTREAM is reported (at dnacaraudio.co.uk) as having a 3.5-inch colour touch-screen - and, as is clear from the photo, an iPod dock, in addition to DAB and FM.
Roberts COLOURSTEAM

Remaining feature list broadly the same as other devices - Aux In, headphone socket, line out, UPnP-AV.

No mention yet if the touch screen will be used for display of other matieral - such as cover art - or if they will be following the current trend of providing links to social networking systems and last.fm.
I presume that there is a matching Sangean model for non-UK audience but have not seen a sign of it yet.


At the time of writing this - it is not visible on the Roberts site

Priced around 400 Euro - but not available to ship yet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roberts Stream83i - Sturdy-looking multi-function radio

- Internet, DAB and FM radio

I hear the question .... "Sturdy-looking" is that some sort of euphemism?
The answer - Yes it is. My first reaction was that it looked like a car battery!

Roberts Stream83i

However, beauty is more than skin-deep. It looks like a capable device. It has the classic radio facilities (FM with RDS and DAB - including a telescopic aerial and 5 presets per band) plus Internet radio via Frontier Silicon portal over wired and wireless (b and g modes) and playback of media files on USB flash disk and from local LAN via UPnP-AV.

There are 3 speakers and audio connections both in and out (headphone, line in, line out)

Access to last.fm to play back music (and "scrobbling" of non-Internet radio tracks) is supported - with dedicated buttons for love/ban on both the radio and the remote control.

It looks like this has been designed to be sit well in the bedroom (as well as elsewhere in the house). For example, 2 different alarms with selectable volume level, dimable display (hopefully including a complete blackout), plus sleep and snooze functions.

The alarms can be set to play a buzzer, Internet radio, DAB radio, FM radio or Last.fm - an can be set as a one-off, daily, week-end or week-day.

For those who plan to move the radio between different locations - for example taking it away on holiday (for you not it!) there is the ability to store four different connection profiles - which should make it easier when you bring it back home or if you visit the same places regularly.

No mention of DAB+ on the site on the manual - which might be a problem in the future (or it could simply be an omission in the documentation).
More details over on the Roberts site including a detailed User Guide

Monday, November 16, 2009

First all-in-1 device from Sonos - S5

- Sonos S5
Sonos have released their first all-in-1 device.
Sonos S5

It has the core Sonos zone-player functionality along with built-in speakers ... 5 of them.
Sonos S5 internals

Reports from early adopters have been positive - with people praising the sound in particular.
The device has minimal controls - so a remote control device is needed. The promotional material makes it clear that an iPhone or iPod Touch is the expected route - but the Sonos dedicated controller works fine but I expect that this is more important to existing Sonos customers than it will be to new ones given the price of the Sonos CR200.

Like all Sonos devices, it is very easy to set-up and start using - and Sonos excel at expanding to become a multi-room set-up.

If this were to be your first Sonos device then you would need to wire it to your router (possibly via an intermediate wired hub) - or buy an extra Sonos player or bridge. This is because the Sonos players do not use regular wi-fi for their wireless implementation - one of the Sonos devices has to connect via wire. Subsequent ones can connect wirelessly (via the other Sonos device(s).

On the back of the device are connections for Ethernet (x2 - 1 for your LAN and the other to allows other wired devices to benefit from its network connection), sockets for mini-jacks for audio-in and headphone plus the power socket.
The power cable prevents the device from sitting fluch against the wall - but given that there is a hole for audio to come out through at the back then sitting it a little away from a wall is likely to make it sound better.

Listed at 399USD (349GBP) it is at the top end of the price range for such devices - but it is a lot less expensive than buying Sonos ZonePlayer and new speakers.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

O2 Joggler radio app seems close

- O2 and Imagination Technologies press release
Promised from the start - the O2 Joggler has had a placeholder in the bottom right of the front screen since launch ... showing that internet radio would be coming soon.

Joggler radio announcement


O2 Joggler


Finally a press release has been issued by Imagination Technologies - the parent of Pure - saying that they will be providing the application - including a customised version of the Pure Lounge.
From the press release it looks like the number of stations will be limited.

To quote:
Sally Cowdry, O2 Marketing Director said: "Internet Radio will transform the experience for O2 Joggler customers and with PURE we are partnering with the market leading provider. PURE’s parent company, Imagination, has delivered this capability in an easy-to-use interface which brings the UK’s most popular radio stations onto the device."

Will be interesting to see how much of the Pure Sensia functionality is ported over to the Joggler Flash front-end. On the asusmption that it is free upgrade to the device then I expect that it will be much simpler.

http://yourfamily.o2.co.uk/o2familyjoggler

(I have one - and have had some involvement behind the scenes with other aspects of the overall offering)

Update: 12/11/2009
Message arrived on the device (picture included) and upgrades of devices started.
No On Demand content

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Touchscreens are in fashion - Pure Sensia

- Pure Sensia

There have been a few new touchscreen models announced over recent weeks - with the IFA event in Berlin chosen as the launch venue.
Logitech and Revo showed off their devices there. Pure launched the Siesta Flow - but strangely seemed to hold back on the new Sensia touchscreen model - now it even has its own microsite.
Pure Sensia
The device has Internet radio, DAB and FM - and is the first model to support some of the RadioDNS protocols, in particular RadioVIS. That probably explains why the first place to have the details was Absolute Radio ... who are among the first broadcasters to support this.
This means that the radio is able to collect more information about what is being broadcast by connecting back to the Internet ... in a standard way. This could include What's On, Album artwork and potentially a click-to-buy option.

Other features of note.
  • A 5.7-inch 640x480 capacitive touchscreen (that is bigger than the fore-mentioned rivals are offering)
  • DAB, DAB+ (via future upgrade), FM and Internet Radio
  • 2 15W speakers
  • Remote control
  • Headphone socket
  • Stereo Out
  • Alarm
  • UPnP connectivity for playing media from home LAN (like the Flow models)
  • iPod connection via extra dock
  • Optional battery pack
  • Various internet apps - including Facebook (not at launch), Twitter and the weather forecast
  • Available in 4 different colours
  • Priced around 250GBP and slated for delivery in mid-October
There is also some talk of a public API coming so that 3rd-parties can develop add-ins for it.

Absolute Radio are running a contest to win some of these up until launch day - see here for more information.

So - while the radio may have the outward design of a 1960s guess at a space-age gadget ... it does have abilities that are futuristic.

There are more good looking photos over at the Pure microsite site
What Hi-Fi has a video but it looked like a fairly slowly running UI. Probably late beta code with some time left to speed things up before release.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pure Siesta Flow

- Pure Siesta Flow
Pure used the IFA event in Berlin to officially launch their new Siesta Flow.
Word had come out a few weeks ago through a financial analyst briefing
"There will be a range of new products announced at IFA in Germany in 3 weeks - we were able to see a few in the Pure demo room but not all - we will have a new Siesta bedside radio with I-pod docker- neat- also a Siesta Flow with internet functionality".
I've been waiting for more material to arrive - and now it has ...

So - what is it?
Basically - it is a 100GBP bedside radio with internet connectivity. Using the same internet radio database as the other Flow models - Pure Lounge.

It has DAB and FM - plus can take input from external source - and can supply power out to a USB socket (e.g. to charge your phone) ... just in case you only have one power socket by the bed!


Pocket-Lint have a good photo - so I'll link to their article until Pure do their own official site update
Pocket-Lint article

Should be available soon (this year).

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Logitech finally announce Touch and Radio

- Announced for IFA

In my original posting regarding the Logitech Touch (yes - it was me that found reported the FCC report for the Touch) I suggested that the launch would be at this week's IFA in Berlin.
Looks like that is the case - as the first official info arrives on the press briefing day.

SB Touch and Radio presentation

Long-time Squeezebox fan, Radish, was a beta tester and has made a video showing off the Touch device. You can see it here (Windows Media file)

Official press release
Squeezebox Touch
Squeezebox Radio

Logitech Blog

Given that most of the information that was used to make the earlier postings had come from reliable sources (e.g. FCC test reports and mistaken publishing on Logitech sites) then it was unlikely to have much new information.
Couple of things I spotted - plus a confirmation from the Slimdevices forum:

For the Touch - a cut-down SqueezeCenter (new name coming) runs on the device so that the access music from the USB disk or SD card. This includes proper searching and providing album art not just browsing by folder ... and potentially even more useful ... it can act as a server to other Squeezeboxes (not the original Slimdevices but everything from SB2 onwards).

The Touch presents the contents of the USB/SD as a network attached drive - so you can copy files to it. This is still work in progress, since the device is not expected to ship until end of November, but beta testers report it as working.


For the Radio - the battery pack and remote are indeed optional (50 USD for the pair as an "Accessory Pack") and the six buttons around the screen are presets to store favourites.

New facility to post to Facebook (presumably all devices will get this since it will be a feature of the server software rather than the device) and see friend updates (presumably on the new full screen versions only).
Plus - a Flickr-based screensaver (clearly only applicable to the new devices with regular display screens)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Revo IKON - more promise than your average iPod dock

- Revo IKON
Announced today, for shipment in late October, is the Revo IKON.
List price is 280GBP


This looks like a good attempt at an all-in-one device - iPod dock, radio (FM, DAB/DAB+), internet radio, home media - with what should be pretty good sound for its size, combined with attractive looks and modern features (touchscreen, last.fm, album art, station info).
Inside it is using Frontier Silicon’s new multi-standard Venice 8 module.
If the implementation is a good as the device promises then this should be a winner - provided there are enough people who are willing to pay over 250GBP for something to do everything.

It includes last.fm functionality - both listening and scrobbling, although it looks like the listening part is only free for 30-day trial, which is odd given that last.fm is free for UK (and Germany plus USA) listeners. Support also claimed for Sirius, Rhapsody and Pandora - but today all of these require the listner to be in USA.

When playing your local music it will also try to show album art on the 3.5-inch touch-screen.

Feature list:
* 3.5” colour TFT touch-screen display
* High sensitivity DAB and DAB+ digital radio
* Advanced internet radio with Wi-Fi and wired LAN connection
* Easy access to over 11,000 internet radio stations (vTuner-based)
* Wirelessly stream music from your PC or MAC
* FM radio reception with RDS
* iPod docking functionality with full control and charging (folds away)
* 30 watts (2 x 15 watts) from class D amplifier
* NXT Balanced Radiator speaker technology
* Digital alarm clock with sleep and snooze
* 20 favourite station presets
* Compatible with all iPod and iPhone models
* Includes compact remote control
* 3.5mm headphone connector
* Stereo RCA line-out connectors
* Optical digital out connector

Click here for press release from Revo (PDF)
Click here for Revo image gallery

Friday, August 21, 2009

Logitech Squeezebox Radio

- Baby Boom?
Squeezebox Radio aka BabyBoom

Engadget report lead me towards another FCC test report posted today - this time it reveals a small Squeezebox with integrated speakers - a cut down Squeezebox Boom.
Squeezebox Radio - under test
It is described as:
Squeezebox Radio model X-R0001 is a compact tabletop network music player and internet radio that lets you listen to virtually any internet radio station, music service or entire personal digital music collection.
Providing remarkable sound in a compact footprint, the X-R0001 extends the power and ease-of-use of the Squeezebox to any room. The Squeezebox Radio model X-R0001 features:
• Compact Design
• Bi-amplified design with ¾-inch high-definition, soft-dome tweeter
• 3-inch high-power, long-throw woofer
• 10W digital power amplifier
2.4” Color TFT LCD
• Front panel controls including scroll wheel
• 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
• One-touch WPS wireless setup
• Built-in 10/100 Ethernet
• Headphone Jack
• Works with all Squeezebox family products

Something to note - looks like this is a mono device (one dome and one tweeter).
Dimensions listed as 4” x 6” x 3.25”
Although not mentioned in the summary above - the test document does refer to a battery pack - so this looks like it is a truely portable device (perhaps they will charge extra for the battery module).
Price: around 180USD

Teaming up with Queen ...
A page leaked out (and was pulled) from Logitech site stating:
"Queen

Listen to an exclusive premiere of Queen's forthcoming album, Absolute Greatest, streamed to your Squeezebox Touch or Squeezebox Radio for free until the album release in November. With Queen and Squeezebox you can: Preview Queen’s upcoming album, ..."

Here is one of the more unusual views - from underneath (showing where the product label is)

Squezebox Radio from underneath

26/Aug/2009
Updated with another picture and price
03/Sep/2009
Updated with latest inmage from Logitech (officially blogged about on their site)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Sonos controller launched

- Sonos CR200
Photos have been floating around for a few weeks - but yesterday was the launch party (no - I wasn't there).
Sonos CR200

Touch screen (3.5” full-color VGA display 640x480 pixels) with some dedicated function buttons.
List price 349 USD

As always from Sonos - it looks good, it seems to works well - and it is at the top-end of the price range.
Remember - this is just a remote control for their devices - so you still need a Sonos player. Their iPhone/iPod Touch application remains free and offers very similar capability (but clearly without dedicated buttons for very quick access to some parts).

Sonos Demo
Sonos Press Release
Video from the launch party via ehomeupgrade

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Logitech Squeezebox Touch on the way

- Squeezebox with touch screen expected by October 2009
First time I came across this was a posting back in May on, of all places, the Sonos forum. Someone (using the fourm name "walera") reported that he had been to a consumer focus event and the device was revealed as a new Squeezebox. I would have expected some form of NDA to have been in place - anyway - word was out.
Then over the last week-end some more info leaked out - including a picture.
Squeezebox Touch
It looks like a Squeezebox Classic with the VFD replaced by a 4.3" touchscreen.
But there may well be more - with reports of it also having a USB port and SD slot.
Various implications here - for example - this could allow for local storage of music and photos (show cover art when playing - and photos when idle).
There is also reported to be an infra-red presence detector that makes the screen spring back into life as you walk up to it - always fun when giving a demo.
Smaller updates also likely for the Boom and perhaps Receiver (the player half of the Duet).

Update 28/Jul/2009:
I found more details ... and have highlighted some new findings
Squeezebox Touch, model X-RC4 is countertop or wall-mounted (with included back-plate) music streaming system featuring:
• 4.3” LCD panel with capacitive touch screen
• High quality analog and headphone outputs (24bit/96k)
• Optical and coax S/PDIF outputs
• 802.11g wireless
• 64MB SDRAM & 64MB NAND flash
• SD card slot & USB host connector
• Internal speech-grade microphone and speaker – sound effects and preview
• IR sensor for remote control
• Ambient light sensor for dimming screen at night
• IR proximity sensor for detecting user approaching
Digital temperature sensor for home automation

Interesting - perhaps there are some mistakes there ... but a microphone, small speaker and thermometer? Maybe for future expansion. Slimdevices have in the past included hardware that is not necessarily used when first released - for example infrared and headphone connector on the Squeezebox Controller.
It may well be running SqueezeOS - the same as in the Squeezebox Controller - since it gets a mention in the FCC report.

Also - an odd part number - "X-RC4". RC usually implies a Remote Control - and is nothing like the part numbers that Logitech Slimdevices folks use
(spotted so far ...
930-000074 - USA
930-000089 - Europe
930-000090 - USA/Canada
930-000091 - Aus/NZ
)

FCC test report
The implication from another document is that this is due for release by the end of September 2009 - my guess ... IFA Berlin is the launch.

Update 15-Aug-2009
It looks like Logitech web site folks made a premature release of information onto the main corporate site. It was spotted first in New Zealand and pulled soon after it was reported. However, that gave time for the details above to be confirmed.
Some more pictures as well ...

SBT in situ
SBT Memory Card
SBT Rear
SBT Front
SBT with remote

Prices:
No official word yet ... however, 3rd-party resellers are listing it around 300 USD, 400 Canadian, 450 New Zealand - implying approximately 220 - 250 Euro.
Plus there are tiny snippets visible on the Logitech site for replacement parts.
For example - a replacement power supply is 19.99 USD (same as Boom but more than Receiver) - which is the same price as a remote control (the smaller Boom remote is 9.99 USD and the bigger backlit one that ships with the Transporter is 29.99). It is not clear yet if a remote is shipped with the device although there are publicity pictures showing them together.

Update: 28/08/2009
First reported home use through a purchase rather than Logitech beta programme.
Nils' Picasa page
Forum post
Looks like a mistaken premature shipment because without a working SqueezeCenter 7.4 (being renamed SqueezeboxServer) it looks like it cannot do much.

Reciva adds native Live365 support

- Live365 from the device menu
It has been possible to play Live365 stations on Reciva devices for a long time - but with some limitations.



The stations had to be submitted to the database (or via the local My Streams) rather than being collected directly from Live365.
While "Professional" Live365 stations could be added easily enough, there had to be work-arounds to get the regular Live365 stations to work - and the VIP "Preferred" stations were more difficult again because Live365 requires the end-user to be a paying subscriber.

Other internet streaming devices, such as Logitech (ex Slimdevices) Squeezebox have had Live365 support for a long time.
Now Reciva has provided a free upgrade (initially for users of Grace Digital versions of the Reciva radios, but presumably with others to come as the brands approve it) to extend the menus to provide native access to Live365 - so that means 6,000+ more stations to try out!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Updated Pandora integration from Reciva

- First Reciva-based radio with dedicated Pandora buttons

Reciva announced their plans for official Pandora support at CES January 2008 - with a limited number of brands initially supported, the first was Grace at end of May 2008.

In April 2009 there was another related set of announcements - one was just to say that there are a few more brands with Pandora support. But I found the other more interesting ... for a couple of reasons.

The press release says "Livio Radio’s sleek features puts Pandora® at your finger tips".
Livio radio

First there are like/dislike buttons on the device and the remote control.
Livio RemoteOK - no big thing (love/ban has been on other systems before but I think that this is the first time on a dedicated internet radio).
Second though is that Livio appears to be a sister company of Myine who recently released their Ira device which is using vTuner.
This is not the first time that a brand has gone with more than one supplier - but I don't remember anyone else having 2 suppliers so quickly.

Friday, March 20, 2009

New internet radio from Myine - ira

-

Massimo Baldini of Myine Electronics (Ferndale, Michigan, USA) replied to an email that I sent back in January to ask about this new device. The reply came recently to say that their new internet radio was nearly ready to ship ... and today an official announcement to say it is now available.

The form-factor is somewhat like a Logitech Squeezebox Classic - and like that device, it does not have its own built-in speakers.
Myine ira

So - connect up via RCA to powered speakers or hi-fi amp - set the wi-fi parameters (no Ethernet on this one) and off you go.
I think that the radio database is powered by a customised version of the vTuner system.
It comes with a remote control (and no local controls) - and has a fairly large (for this sort of device) white/blue LCD display.

Listed at 150 USD - with more details over at:
http://www.myine.com/ira.php
(the user guide is in the Help section)

Do you want everyone to know what you record?

- DABDig and Twitter
More for a bit of fun than a serious practical use, I have added some support for posting to Twitter from DABDig.
So - if you are automating your recordings
- e.g. DigiGuide -> DABDig -> Windows TV software
then you can now send info about what you are recording to your Twitter account (or in theory to other web-based services with an equally simple interface).

Maybe it will remind someone to switch to watch the same thing. I think I'll add the facility to hide shows by name though just in case people do not want some of their guilty pleasures highlighted (e.g. "Desperate Housewives" gets timeshifted here).

You can see some examples in Twitter
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23DABDig

I have not released this test version of DABDig yet - but if you already have a released version up and running and you have a Twitter account and fancy sharing your recording details with the rest of the Twitter-world (not the shows themselves - just info about them) then contact me (address is at the top of your dabdig.ini).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New internet radios from Grace Digital

- New models for USA buyers from Grace include battery power and iPod dock
Before Christmas, Grace Digital said that they were going to be bringing out some new Reciva-based internet radios in early 2009.
They have now released the details and it looks like products should become available in February/March (update: one of them is not Reciva-based).

One of the radios features an iPod dock (not just an Aux-in socket). Internet radios with iPod docks are an interesting development. There are other manufacturers who have done the same thing, but it does blur the edges between internet radio, digitised music at home and personal media players.
Someone with an iPod that can handle Wi-Fi can achieve something very similar by getting a lower cost iPod speaker dock and using one of the many (free) internet radio players from Apple's AppStore.
Arguably it is not quite as easy to use - but it also brings many other functions.
However, if the person with the iPod sticks it in their pocket and goes out ... then the speaker dock becomes useless - but that is only important if there is still someone around to listen!
For people with their music collection stored on a computer - they can get to it via UPnP and other remote media streaming protocols or possibly over a shared file system and, of course, while sitting at their computer ... so they would probably not need the iPod feature of an internet radio.
Grace have neatly side-stepped the issue by making two versions available - one with and one without the iPod dock. You can pay your money and make your choice - with a 50USD difference in the models.
This option is something that some of the Pure advocates think that should have happened with the Avanti Flow.


So - what have Grace announced? In essence there is an update plus 2 completely new models, including one that is battery-powered.

The update (GDI-IR2000 and IR1000) updates the ITC-IR1000B by using what looks like the same casing and adds 5 more presets (via a new "Shift" button as seen on other Reciva-based radios), software controlled tone settings and, for the IR2000, Aux input plus a small remote control.

GDI-IR2000
To accommodate the "Shift" function within the pre-existing case layout, the buttons go through some renaming and it looks like "Browse" and "Reply" have been replaced by "Retrieve". This will confuse established Grace and Reciva users if they ever need to help newcomers via the forums.



The new models come with some variations.

The GDI-IR3000 has 2 speakers and a variation with an iPod dock (IR3020) - both available with a richer remote control (offering 99 presets).
GDI-IR3000

GDI-IR3020

The remote compounds the "Reply"/"Retrieve" confusion referred to above by adding "Recall".
No indication, as yet, of the power of the speakers, but maybe it is 2 of the old ones - i.e. 2*4.5W

The final new model is the GDI-IRP600 (presumably "P" for portable) and is their first with battery-power. GDI-IRP600
From the user guide it looks like it is not Reciva-based. The menu structure is different and is presumably using the vTuner bask-end.
There are not many battery-powered Wi-Fi radios.
One big reason being the amount of power that is drawn when trying to run a Wi-Fi connection when a long way away from a wireless access point (for example - down at the end of the garden). Plus, if you are much further away (maybe out on a picnic) you will probably not find any wi-fi to connect to!
However, by including an FM tuner, that draws a lot less power, it does mean that this becomes a portable device that should be able to be taken away from home for the day or longer.


The recent addition of support for the internet versions of the Sirius satellite content via the Reciva platform (although requiring a paid subscription to Sirius) and possibly only available to Grace radio users, will no doubt be of interest to many listeners in USA.
Sonos and Logitech/SlimDevices have had Sirius support for a while - but Grace has the potential to bring it to a new entry-level price.

More at http://www.gracedigitalaudio.com