Geeks.com sent us in a pretty cool computer gadget: a vintage-looking internet radio device, the iMedia100. I have a soft spot about classic-looking devices that have modern features, so this was an interesting experiment for me. Read on for more.
The iMedia100 uses a well-structured wooden frame design and while it does not have the standard hi-fi size, it can easily fit in many places around the home. On the front we find a 3-inch LCD screen (white text with blue bg), a big volume knob, and ten buttons that can operate the device in its basic form in case you lost the accompanied remote control. On the back there’s an Ethernet plug, a line-in and a line-out, a USB port (the device can playback audio via USB FAT32 keys), and a wifi antenna connector (antenna included). On the top, there’s a mono 5Watt speaker. The remote control could definitely have a better and simpler design (AppleTV anyone?), but even in its current state is pretty easy to operate. The iMedia100’s internals and logic were manufactured by BridgeCo, running on top the embedded microkernel KnOS.
The device supports mp3, wma, LPCM, WAV, and playlists with PLS, M3U and ASX. You can playback music either via Ethernet, WiFi or Homeplug. It also supports UPnP 1.0, which is something that worked wonderfully with Windows Media Player 11. We had no problem connecting the device via DHCP via Ethernet and Wifi WEP. In fact, the only thing that’s probably this device is missing in terms of networking was A2DP/AVRCP support via Bluetooth…
The device turns on within about 6-7 seconds. In the home screen you will find your “favorites” (you can set/unset channels as favorites), a list of pre-configured radio stations, a recently played list, and a sleep timer on/off switch option. On the top of each screen the date and time can be seen — the device gets the time automatically from the internet, it only asks for the timezone from the user. If you click “internet radio”, you go to a separate screen that let’s you select a station by country, genre, or new stations that you added via the myradio123 web site. Clicking a station will start play it back, and depending on the metadata found in the stream, the iMedia100 will scroll text with that data.
In the settings you will find a networking wizard, date/time options, language options, profile management (the iMedia100 supports up to three different networking profiles), LCD brightness and firmware upgrade. Firmware upgrade is a stinky point. Unfortunately, the iMedia100 does not automatically download and install a newer firmware — even if it’s capable of checking it out and telling you that there is a new version out. Instead, it reboots, and when it reboots instead of loading the normal screen, it shows an IP address. When you load that IP address on your browser, the iMedia’s built-in web server kicks in and serves you a page that asks you to upload to the device a newer firmware file. Unfortunately, there is nowhere on the internet that we know of (or mentioned in the documentation) as to where to find that firmware file. The company that ODM’ed the iMedia100, Vtronics, has a download/support page for the gadget, but when you submit the form, nothing happens. I emailed the company to ask for the newer firmware file that my device reports that exists, but nobody replied so far.
The second stinky point is with myradio123.com. It actually works pretty well, it’s just that I feel that if this web site ever goes down for whatever business reason, you won’t be able to update your iMedia100 anymore — at least not as straightforwardly. Maybe the iMedia100 should have had a full web interface to take care of playlist management that rather than using a third party web site.
Overall, this is a good product. The line-out feature is great, and listening to internet stations from around the world in high quality via our big speakers and amp, feels great. The “Alternative rock” stations are on rotation in our home since we got this gadget!