Internet Radio Homing In
by Christopher Jones
12:10 p.m. 7.Feb.2000 PST
Why limit yourself to local radio when a whole new world of programming is at your fingertips via the Internet?
That's the pitch that companies like Kerbango and AudioRamp.com will be making in the coming months as they tout new Internet radios as the next great step in digital music.
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One of the selling points for the newest generation of digital audio devices is the removal of the PC as a middleman in downloading or streaming music. Instead, the devices connect directly to the Internet and call up radio IP addresses using an integrated modem and phone line.
Introduced this week, the Kerbango radio connects to the Web using a home phone line or through an ISP network connection, and uses RealNetworks G2 platform to stream Internet radio programs.
The radio supports USB and Ethernet connections, and has stereo outputs for people who want to listen through a larger hi-fi system. The Kerbango also doubles as an MP3 player, and can select songs stored on connected computers.
The device connects with the Kerbango Tuning Service (KTS), the company's portal for finding and tuning into music, news, and other programs from around the world, and creating personalized listening programs.
"Pre-set programs selected using KTS at work can later be accessed at home from the user's radio," said Jim Gable, Kerbango's president, in a statement. "The interchange between the tuning service and the Internet radio gives customers great flexibility while keeping the radio as simple as an everyday appliance should be."
The Kerbango will be available this spring for under $300.
AudioRamp also introduced an Internet radio device on Monday. iRad connects to the Internet through an 56 K modem, Ethernet or HomePNA Network devices, and plays MP3 files and streaming audio. Similar to Kerbango, the company is integrating a Web site with the radio to help users manage music between a PC, Net radio stations, and portable players.
AudioRamp signed an agreement with Emusic.com, which sells more than 60,000 downloadable MP3 tracks.
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