The Internet has opened up a brave new radio world to listeners who otherwise suffer airwave restrictions. With tens of thousands of stations now pumping out just about every kind of music imaginable around the clock, tuning in can be overwhelming and complicated. The Q2 Internet Radio from Armour Home Electronics offers to make the process a whole lot easier and a lot more fun.
The Q2 Internet Radio is a 10cm (3.93-inch) cube with a custom 2.4-inch, 4 ohm speaker driver to the front and a distinct lack of buttons. The device is connected via USB to a PC or Mac running software downloaded from the company's website. This is used to add the Internet Radio to an existing wireless broadband network, and also for selecting up to four favorite online radio stations to be allocated to the appropriately marked sides of the cube.
Although being limited to just four stations at any one time might seem a touch restricting, the company says that most folks tend to stick with one or two favorites anyway (certainly true in my case). Users can change the allocated choices at any time by hooking the Q2 back up to the PC or Mac and running the software again.
Once the cube's li-ion battery – which is said to be good for at least eight hours of playback – is charged up and the unit turned on, listeners just need to tilt the front face upwards to increase volume and downwards to turn it down. The device connects to the existing wireless broadband network via built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi that's WEP, WPA and WPA2 compatible. Changing stations is equally buttonless, as the cube is simply tipped over onto another side. This is achieved with a 3-axis accelerometer similar to that found in a Nintendo Wii games controller.
Tipping the Q2 all the way forward so that the speaker is face down activates the mute. After a few minutes of inactivity, standby mode will kick in to conserve the battery.
The company's Steve Reichert told Gizmag that the device offers audio playback at sampling rates up to 48kHz and bitrates up to 330 kbps, so even high quality stations such as Linn Radio's 320 kbps can be played back. "Biquad digital signal processing filters are used to voice the sound giving a smooth listening response and added bass extension from the speaker system," he added. "The amplifier is a high efficiency Class AB BTL type optimized for battery operation, giving typically less than 0.1 per cent total harmonic distortion under normal operating conditions. The use of a Class AB rather than Class D type amplifier results in both lower noise and distortion."
The Q2 is able to receive both stereo and mono audio streams, but stereo output is mixed down to mono before output by the speaker. Stereo can still be enjoyed via the headphone jack.
The Q2 Internet Radio comes supplied with both charger and USB connection cable and is available in five different colors for GBP90 (about US$142), which includes shipping within the UK. Reichert told us that there's a flat rate international shipping fee of GBP10 (US$15) for most destinations.