Date: Friday, September 17th, 2004, 00:20
Griffin Technology’s long-awaited radioSHARK is now available for pre-order and the PowerPage got our hands on one of the first production units. The radioSHARK is a US$70 USB radio that comes with software that allows you to record any AM or FM radio broadcast in real time. What makes it cool is that the software allows you to schedule recordings and even pause live recordings – think of it as TiVo for broadcast radio. Read on…
Griffin Technology’s long-awaited radioSHARK is now available for pre-order and the PowerPage got our hands on one of the first production units. The radioSHARK is a US$70 USB radio that comes with software that allows you to record any AM or FM radio broadcast in real time. What makes it cool is that the software allows you to schedule recordings and even pause live recordings – think of it as TiVo for broadcast radio.
The hardware itself looks like a shark fin (hence the name) and is very easy to set up. Simply install the included software and plug in your ‘shark to an available USB port and you’re running. The main radioSHARK window (below) operates pretty much like any radio that you’ve used before, presets are easily saved using a drop down menu and hitting the “Rec” button gives you a one-touch recording option. I find dragging a slider an unusual way to tune in a radio station and would prefer an old fashioned knob or even just up and down arrows but this is not a deal-breaker because I found myself mostly using the “seek” button anyway. You can change the colors of the windows in but it would be great if Griffin made the interface skinable.
Where it gets interesting is when you use the “Sched” and “TS” (Time Shift) buttons on the right.
Clicking the Sched button brings up the scheduling window which is hyper-intuitive to use. Click on “New” and you get the Event Details window (below.) In it you pick the program’s start and end times, choose the station and give it a name. You can record broadcasts in AIFF but selecting AAC gives you the option of selecting the encoding quality (Good/Better/Best) or the actual bit rate (64/128/192/256/320 kbps). Scheduled events can repeat hourly, daily or weekly but I would like Griffin to add an option for weekdays (Monday-Friday).
Time shifting is what makes the radioSHARK unique, I use this feature all the time with my TiVo and love it. Essentially, time shifting allows you to pause a recording and return to it later. Time shifting is especially useful for skipping commercials, simply start recording a program 15-30 minutes before you listen (so that the buffer fills up) then start listening to the delayed version and skip ahead when the commercials come on. Brilliant.
What’s also cool is that once you’ve enabled time shifting in the application’s preferences (it’s off by default) radioSHARK records the selected station in the background. The buffer length (30 minutes is the default) determines how far you’ll be able to skip ahead or backwards. But be careful here, a large buffer combined with a high encoding quality can eat up your hard drive pretty quickly. According to the application a 30 minute buffer for AIFF require 302MB of disk space. Recording FM radio in AAC/128/better format resulted in files that are less than 1MB for each minute recorded (talk radio can be recorded at 64 kbps.) The time shifting drawer is visible under the the main radioSHARK tuner window above.
I awarded the radioSHARK a Best in Show at Macworld Creative Pro 2003 (New York) where one application came to mind, time shifting the Howard Stern show. You see, Stern is on from 6:00am to 10:30am and I can usually only catch the last 90 minutes. The radioSHARK allows me to record the Stern Show at 6:00am so that I can listen to it later.
If you listen to the radio regularly and find yourself missing shows, the radioSHARK is for you. Easy to setup and use, the radioSHARK is TiVo for broadcast radio. “Oh my!” (In his best George Takei voice)
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