I, Me, Myine

It’s quite an amazing little device, when it works, and when it doesn’t work, it’s not its fault! That’s the best way to size up the wonderful little Ira Wi-Fi Internet radio from Myine. Setup is easy. You just need a wireless router somewhere within range. If your router has security enabled, you can enter your password via the remote by selecting all your letters, numbers and special characters in the large, easy to read LCD screen of the Ira.

The remote, tiny little thing that you could swallow if you’re not careful, has everything you need to raise the output level (dual RCA outputs are provided), search for stations, mark them as favorites (or bring up your favorites list). If I ever go to Atlanta, I know all the best places to get ribs, thanks to 99x.com in Atlanta. It’s been a non-stop parade of my favorite current alt.rock songs. You’re not limited to music stations of course, and according to Myine, there are 11,000 stations. I put a few locals in and found they were available too.

Sound quality is based on the station's selected bitstream density and encoding method. Pressing the “info” button on the remote shows the bit rate and encoding method. I noticed anything MP3 had to have a significantly more bits than WMA to sound compatible. A 128 kpbs WMA station was the minimum I settled for. And why settle? Like I said, 11,000 stations!

The $150 Ira (available for $20 less at Amazon) doesn’t come with an amplifier, just some line level outputs. So you can hook it to something like the Polk I-Sonic iPod superdeck I reviewed recently or right into your stereo, whoops, I mean home theater receiver.

Downsides? Yes, there is one, and I since this is only my second experience with internet radio maybe I just don't get it, but you can’t see what songs are actually playing on the Ira's front panel. I had to open a browser and jump to 99x.com’s web site to see what they were playing. If you’re like me and don’t decide until the last chorus of a new song that, yes, you do like it, the lag from the over the air station to the internet stream is large enough that by the time you get there, the title shown may be for the song coming up (it’s already playing over the airwaves in Atlanta!), not the one you belatedly liked. It seems like the technology is missing where it shouldn’t be, like an HDTV with no blue.

You can add 40 presets, but you can’t sort them or rearrange them once you’ve done so plan well. Jumping around with the remote is pretty intuitive and I never consulted the book (even when putting in the password to the secured wireless network). Very easy to use, your grandmother could figure it out.

But I said it doesn’t work sometimes, and by that I mean, face it, you’re on the internet. So yes, seconds, minutes, hours of dead air, followed by a cable modem / router reboot, fixes things. Some days were worse than others, and the fact the network I was on was occasionally an FTP site too, means some days were great, others, no so much. If you’re home, you probably won’t have as much traffic, but you never know.

I think the Ira is wonderful. I just threw away a broken Hallicrafter shortwave radio that used to be my Dad’s windows on the world. He would have really loved this device. The world at your fingertips, and no static either.