Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tivoli Audio - Mixed feelings

According to the Slipperybrick blog, the US company of Tivoli Audio seems to be coming out of their shell some by breaking from their traditional, mostly-AM/FM radio products into integrating digital music and internet radio with two new devices coming to the market later this year. The two new network-enabled radios will be called the NetWorksGo, and the NetWorks Table Radio, which both look to be upgrades of existing products with the new networking capabilities added in.

Both radios will drop the AM tuner, retaining only the FM radio and add in the ability to stream in MP3, WMA and Real Audio internet radio to playback through the device with no computer required. They can also optionally connect to a networked computer or through a USB connection to play music from a PC or other device.

But here's the catch. The internet radio stations that the NetWorksGo and NetWorks Table Radio are able to “tune in” will be limited to a pre-selected list through Tivoli, but according to the company president more stations are easily added. A user needs only to send an email to Tivoli requesting a new station and if approved it will be added to the list. The radio owner then can update the radio’s firmware with a manual button press which will update the list with any newly-added stations.

Note the words "if approved" above. Is Tivoli going to play gatekeeper? (UPDATE- see response from Tivoli in comments) Imagine if you had to send an e-mail to your TV manufacturer if you wanted to watch free-to-air stations outside the standard package! This is a business model from the 1950's - perhaps to match the style of their radios. It is born to become victim of its own success...not as well thought out as the radios themselves. They sound great - although the recent models that are made in China have a more mass-produced finish to them, in my opinion.

Both radios connect to the web to grab the streams through an Ethernet cable or through Wi-Fi with the Networks Table Radio designed as stationary model. The NetWorksGo model can run off of six C-batteries and is more portable for taking from room to room or anywhere that is FM or Wi-Fi accessible.

No pricing is available yet for these new models and the images pictured here (credit SciFi.com and DoDevice) may not be the final design.


Anonymous said...

I love my Tivoli Model One, and the styling of their products fits right in with the mid-century modern vibe we're going for in our house, but that gatekeeper thing is a killer. No thanks, I'll find something else that covers all the bases (WMA, MP3, and Real) but lets me add my own stations, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

John Figliozzi went to the press launch, and has written a preliminary assessment of these radios, which I will publish tomorrow on the main website(with a link to your item).

Anonymous said...

Hello Jonathan,

I would like to address your comments regarding Tivoli Audio acting as “gatekeeper” in terms of what radio stations can be received by our new NetWorks and NetWorksGo radios. Tivoli Audio has no interest in censoring -- or controlling in any way -- what content the owners of our products listen to and there is no approval process for stations to be made available. The statement about stations being “added” is a reference to how these products’ firmware navigates the complex network of 12,000+ internet radio stations in a way that is seamless to the end user. Our goal is to present the world of internet radio to our customers in its entirety so they may choose what stations and content they enjoy.

All The Best,
Jeff Myers
Tivoli Audio

Jonathan Marks said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your response. Having examined what others are doing in this space, I would recommend you set up a "DIY" system which allows you to create an account on the Tivoli website and add new stations to your own radio and even offer the discovery to the Tivoli database. Use the Wisdom of the Crowds instead of trying to funnel data through a narrow tube.

Jay said...

If you havent read it yet, this NYT piece might be of interest to you!