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Firms prep Wi-Fi Internet radio tuners

10,000 stations without a PC

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Reg Kit Watch Wi-Fi is not only freeing up notebook and PDA users to connect to the Internet from anywhere in the home, it's also making Internet radio work (almost) like the real thing.

British start-up Reciva is currently pitching its standalone Net radio receiver to a variety of consumer electronics companies, ISPs and network providers, while Cisco's WLAN subsidiary, Linksys, is preparing a new version of its Wireless B Media Adaptor that can pump your favourite online stations into your living room.

Unlike Linksys, Reciva isn't in the business of selling product itself, CEO Giles Hutchison told is recently. Instead, the company wants to license its technology. Big-name CE players, he reckons, are likely to want to design their own devices even though the internals follow Revica's specs.

Reciva also has a transistor radio-style reference design ready for use by companies who simply want to contract out manufacture and offer the kit under their own name.

Reciva Internet Radio Reference Design

Hutchison wouldn't say who he's been talking to, but he claimed to have received plenty of interest from ISPs looking to build products to sell on top of their broadband access offerings - particular those who want to target punters without a PC.

Reciva's reference platform contains a Wi-Fi radio that ties into the home WLAN and broadband connection to pull in Internet radio content without the need for a PC. The unit supports streamed Ogg Vorbis, MP3, Real Audio and Windows Media Audio formats. The sound is beefed up through a 4W amplifier, and there's a regular FM tuner in there for analogue broadcasts. Indeed, it looks and operates just like an ordinary radio.

Instead, this one can pick up many of the 10,000 or so stations broadcasting on the Net. There's a station selection mechanism along with six customisable station pre-set buttons.

Linksys Wireless-B Music SystemThe Linksys Wireless-B Music System operates along similar lines, but like its predecessor can also stream music and photos from a Windows XP PC to your hi-fi and TV, respectively. Unlike the original Media Adaptor, the new version contains its own stereo speakers and display unit, so it can operate as a standalone device.

The device only supports MP3 and WMA. It can also tie into Real Networks' Rhapsody service, for which users will have to pay extra, though Linksys will bundle a free trial. It too can "tune into thousands of Internet radio stations from over 100 different countries around the world".

Linksys has yet to reveal pricing or availability for the device. Availability of Reciva-based kit will depend on individual licensees, but we could see units appearing by the end of the year. ®

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