I first started playing around with Internet Radio back in the 1990's– I really enjoyed streaming my WinAmp music via Shoutcast. Now of course, the government has made private streaming extremely expensive and so there aren't very many free private streams anymore. Then I went onto buy a SMC Networks EZ Stream (SMCWAA-G) Wireless Audio Adapter. This thing was awesome at the time except for the fact that it was extremely difficult to use and looked like crap. I had to hide it away from my Receiver because it looked ridiculous with an antenna hanging out the side.
Now, Livio Radio has claimed to make a really easy to use and good looking internet radio. Read what I think about it below.
One thing is for sure: the Livio Radio looks pretty nice. With its simple design and single mono speaker it brings to mind my Tivoli Audio Model Two desktop radio. It's also extremely simple to setup. Best of all, Pandora is integrated into the radio which allows you to choose what you want, when you want.
The Livio design team really did an excellent job making the radio simple. I would be happy to give one to my parents and expect them to figure out how to use it. It's like the Apple of internet radios. It's just that easy. All you have to do is go to the Livio site and register the radio. There, you can configure it and link it to your Pandora account. All you have to do then is just use the knob and toggle what you want.
Beyond the interface, the device feels well built. It is heavy and the seams are all very tight showing some real effort was made to have this thing look nice and solid. I would be comfortable having it in my house for my guests to see because it's got that simplistic beauty that nobody minds. There's also no unsightly antenna hanging out of it.
My only concern with the Livio Radio was the sound quality. First, you have to realize that there's a single speaker on it. That allows it to be more compact and keep a tabletop shape, but it also sacrificies half of the audio signal. Now that isn't the main problem. Tivoli Audio has designed very very good sounding mono speaker systems. For some reason, the Livio Radio sounds muddy and unimpressive. I was able to make my Tivoli radio sound similar by putting a towel on top of the speaker. And it's not because it's streaming from the internet either as my directly connected iPod still sounded pretty mediocre.
Livio has been working on a better sounding system, but as of now it's on hold. I can only hope that they get back to work quickly since the design quality is so great that it's sad to see it wasted with a mediocre speaker. Alternatively, they could make a cheaper stand-alone internet radio tuner without the speaker for you to use with your own audio system.
Either way, Livio's execution is a bit disappointing but I think it can be easily remedied. If you want something that looks nice and works well, and you don't mind unstellar sound, get it now. Otherwise, pair it with your current audio system or wait for a revised version with better acoustics.