|Phoenix Wi-fi Radio|
by Com One
Features: A Wi-Fi radio, capable of delivering thousands of radio station broadcasts from all over the world, in addition to playing local musif files on your PC and via an on-board USB jack on the back of the Phoenix. Stereo output is also offered for connecting to a home theater.
Official Website: http://www.com-one.biz
Current Price: Check Price / Purchase
Cons / Disadvantages
- Quick installation
- Automatic configuration
- Access thousands of stations
- Wi-Fi access
- Listen to Podcasts
- RSS feeds
- Great sound from two tiny speakers
- Plays several different media formats (WAV, MP3, WM9, etc.)
- Hardware is of good quality
- Linux inside!
- Phoenix has a nice "feel" to it, being firmly planted on a desktop or other surface
- Com One's firmware has been updated regularly on their website
- Alarm clock
- A worldly alternative to your typical radio with limited AM/FM reception
- Settings cannot be permanently stored on the Phoenix itself when power is lost or an internet connection is not possible
- Power consumption / power efficiency is rather low, considering 4 AA batteries are being used
- Occasionally, automatic configuration of Wi-Fi did not work and required manual input (entering IP address, Subnet Mask, and DNS Server)
- Firmware needs to be conspicuously posted for downloading to a USB Flash drive device
Com One has gone to great lengths in giving you a rather extensive selection of radio stations from its Wi-Fi Radio Website, as well as making it the way the Phoenix operates, communicates, and updates. Most Phoenix owners won't have too much of a problem having a website be the eyes and ears for their product, but it might be a little odd for a small minority of those who want to embrace the latest technology Com One has to offer. For those of you who may be a little hesitant in joining the Wi-Fi World, I would encourage you to take that step. It's really convenient and being wireless is more exciting than it sounds.
- Interchangeable faceplates for the Phoenix, allowing for a wide variety of different styles with limited cost to the manufacturer
- External antenna jack for better reception
The design of the Phoenix is rather modern...but at the same time a little lacking. I like the physical design (save for the rotary knob which could have been digital). If faceplates were offered in several different colors, this would provide a low-cost opportunity for Com One, and would allow Phoenix users to create their own style of Phoenix to match their decor. After all, this is a progressive company and I would imagine they would welcome such versatility with the Phoenix.
The overall experience with the Phoenix was good. Not exceptional, but good. Com One has a product on their hands which has gained a lot of interest and a following, and if they use Baracoda, Inc.'s resources (Com One is the consumer subsidiary company of Baracoda), the Phoenix will be an icon of Com One's wireless endeavors.
I have to comment on the sound of the Phoenix. It's BIG and present. While not having the bass of larger systems (we shouldn't expect it to), for its size, the sound is rather good. In fact, think of it as a Bose Radio, only 1/3 of the price and with Wi-Fi capability. These are mid-range speakers, which probably go up to 20KHz, but you'll probably never get close to it because you'll be listening to highly compressed audio most of the time.
The biggest disadvantage I encountered was power-related. Just over 2.5-hours for entertainment when not connected to the AC outlet. What this tells me is the Wi-Fi device inside the Phoenix requires (shall I say DEMANDS?) more power to last over a longer period of time. We have to remember, Wi-Fi is typically not favorable for being portable. I'm not sure if Com One has thought about a proprietary lithium solution, but this might solve the issue, or at least give 5-10 hours of portability time. The power issue also rolls over into loss of settings, which can become irritating. Luckily, it's not too difficult to connect to the net and grab the Phoenix's settings from Com One's website.
Firmware updating was more difficult than it should have been. I wanted to download the firmware to a USB Flash drive, but couldn't find any obvious or conspicuous link to download the firmware. I shouldn't have to look all over a company's website for such a thing.
The Phoenix is not a product which is produced in large quantities when compared to other major brands, and is reflective in the price. I think an update to the Phoenix in terms of power performance, connection issues, color design, multi-color LCD update, easier firmware updating, and more on-board capabilities will catapult the Phoenix into a league of its own.
Regardless of the many suggestions I have however, I still give the Phoenix a recommendation for purchase. If you have a Wi-Fi connection in your home, apartment, or office, this radio is a real treat to have around. It's basic and not complicated, allowing for as close to a normal radio experience as you can get. And in this area, Com One does a very good job.
The Phoenix is an inherent internet product, which by default, will have techies buying it. I think Com One has a very good opportunity with the Phoenix and shouldn't lose sight of this. By having a more dedicated troubleshooting stress-testing team and improving the Phoenix's disadvantages, we'll soon see the Phoenix reach a status where it is available just about anywhere.
Let me end on this note. Com One decided to use a Linux OS for driving its Phoenix brain, and I can't congratulate them enough. We need more outside-the-box thinkers. Com One is certainly one of them, and I look forward to reviewing their future products, and especially, and an updated Phoenix. With regular firmware updates which can improve a device's performance with a simple mouse click, I can see nothing but great things destined for the Phoenix Wi-Fi Radio.