Tivoli Audio is well known for its tabletop radios, but the company has always remained somewhat on the conservative side when it comes to features: AM, FM, and CD, plus the occasional iPod dock and satellite radio. But the company is taking a firm step into the 21st century with a new pair of products, the NetWorks Table Radio and NetWorksGo. The models are essentially network-enabled updates of the Model One and the SongBook, respectively, with the Table Radio intended for stationary duty and the NetWorksGo offering space for six rechargeable C batteries (which you have to supply). Both models have a built-in FM (but no AM) tuner, but the real attraction is the ability to stream WMA, MP3, and Real Audio Internet radio stations via their built-in Ethernet or Wi-Fi connections; they can also stream digital audio files from networked PCs as well. Additionally, both also offer USB and line-in connectors for playing music from other devices.
Tivoli is emphasizing simple, computer-free operation--in the demo provided by company president Tom DeVesto at a New York press conference, he was able to tune in two stations, one from Seattle and one from Ireland, randomly requested from journalists in attendance. Automatic firmware upgrades will also be available--just touch a button to download and install new software, without the need to hook the radio to the computer. One possible cause for concern, however, is that the stations seem to be pulled from a master list that Tivoli sets--it doesn't appear that you can add your own. But DeVesto insisted that users need only "send Tivoli an e-mail," and compatible stations can easily be added.
Pricing on both radios has yet to be finalized, and they won't be shipping until late 2007. Also, the prototypes shown at the event (and in the photos here) may undergo further tweaks before they're finalized. But Tivoli appears to be sticking with its winning retro designs, even as the company upgrades the functionality of its products.The NetWorksGo model is particularly intriguing--while transportable Wi-Fi radios such as the Philips Streamium MC-i250 and Roku SoundBridge Radio have been available for some time, Sony's VAIO VGF-WA1 (to my knowledge) is the only battery-powered Internet radio product with built-in speakers to date. As such, the NetWorksGo should be ideally suited for moving from room to room, or even having out on the deck. I look forward to getting some hands-on time with the final products once they're available in the fall.