Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/21/review_speaker_teac_r_4idnt/

Teac R-4iDNT Wi-Fi/DAB/FM radio and iPod dock

Log on, tune in, dock out

By Ian Calcutt

Posted in Hardware, 21st May 2010 07:02 GMT

Review Despite the UK’s proposed analogue radio switch-off at some yet-to-be-decided date, it’s fair to say that DAB has hardly been a roaring success. Most digital radio manufacturers hedge their bets and include an FM tuner, while there’s a growing trend of adding an Internet connection for accessing thousands of online stations in a handy radio-style device.

TEAC R-4iDNT

Teac's R-4iDNT: no snazzy colour touchscreens here

The new R-4iDNT from Japanese audio brand Teac is one such hybrid. Reflecting that people will listen to radio from various sources along with a potentially vast music library from an MP3 player or computer, this neat box tunes into FM, DAB, streams from computers and the Internet or simply docks an iPod.

Connections are basic but include the aforementioned socket for iPods (with iPhone compatibility) and a mini-jack auxiliary input. There’s Wi-Fi reception plus an Ethernet port for a wired network. Unlike some digital radios, the R-4iDNT lacks built-in flash memory, card slots or a USB port for storage drives, so you can’t do any recording or playback this way.

Setting up is easy, with an installation wizard guiding you through the trickier parts, such as wireless networking. Fortunately the Netgear router I was using had a ‘Push'n'Connect’ button, so I could skip the password, though there are manual options for this and finding networks by name.

The R-4iDNT has dual alarm timers and an illuminated sleep/snooze button, should you want to put it by the bed. When plonked on a tabletop it’s only 53mm high but it has a phonebook-sized footprint. If surface space is an issue it can be wall-mounted using two screws.

TEAC R-4iDNT

A simple line-up of sockets including Ethernet in case you don’t want to use Wi-Fi

The backlit LCD display sits within a sloping front edge, so it’s fine for viewing either way up. However, if you wall-mount then any docked iPod sticks out precariously as if about to make a suicidal jump, possibly in response to your musical taste. The designers should really have put an extra connection at the back or made the dock pivotable.

Picking up shared music from your computer needs a bit of configuring. Teac suggests Windows Media Player 11, which is fully explained in the owner’s manual and does the job. The radio also picks up other UPnP servers for media streaming.

TEAC R-4iDNT

Internet radio information

I linked it to an Apple Mac without hassle, and Linux systems should work too. I also played AAC files (iTunes’ default format) and FLAC, although compatibility may depend on what your preferred UPnP server handles.

TEAC R-4iDNT

FM radio display

Internet radio is more straightforward. You can search for stations by genre, name or location. Recently found stations are kept in a list or you can register at a free web portal and store favourites in a more orderly fashion. You can also stream from a long list of podcasts, including some of the UK’s most popular.

TEAC R-4iDNT

DAB radio data

The R-4iDNT has Last.fm access as a separate menu option – it ‘scrobbles’ streamed track data back to your profile too, if wanted – but this only seems to be useful if you subscribe.

Teac R-4iDNT

My review model didn’t even let me play Last.fm ‘Recommended’ songs, which the website and Logitech’s Squeezebox players do without charge. I hope that other services like Spotify or mflow could be added by future software updates to complement linear online stations.

TEAC R-4iDNT

The remote control is not exactly elegant but it’s reasonably easy to use

Part of the reason it’s slim is down to NXT flat-panel speakers. They use the newer ‘balanced mode radiator’ design, claimed to improve bass. Given the size of the unit, it is not bad to listen to. With EQ left on default ‘flat’ mode, music can lack definition and sound a little hollow, so it’s worth boosting bass and treble a few notches.

Yet I was able to get Laura Marling’s voice sounding suitably earthy on the track Rambling Man from her 2010 album. The DAB performance is pretty resilient but a Beethoven string symphony was rather shrill, so it’s not quite the sonic all-rounder I’d hoped for.

Verdict

Costing less than £200, the R-4iDNT is cheaper than Pure’s Avanti Flow or Sensia but those have a few more features and frills. There are cheaper Internet radios, however, they usually lack DAB and iPod docking. As a music player it is unlikely to make a fully-fledged hi-fi jealous, but the Teac is a sleek and convenient way to get a broad range of music and radio into kitchens, bedrooms and small-to-medium sized rooms. ®

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