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November 10, 2004

Review: Replay-Radio

Like Tivo, ReplayRadio is one of those products that will immediately make you wonder how you ever survived without it. I'm one of many people out there who has a long commute and my radio is my sole companion. What DVR has done for my television viewing, ReplayRadio now has done for my radio listening.


Unlike RadioShark from Griffin Technologies, ReplayRadio does not include a radio receiver. Instead, it is a software-only product that acts like a DVR for the thousands of Internet radio programs out there. Replay-Radio lets you schedule recording times for your favorite radio shows, the result of which gets directly converted into MP3 format. At that point, you are just a single click away from syncing it with an MP3 player or burning it on to a CD.


I found the product amazingly simple to use while still providing a wealth of power options to fine tune your recordings. To add a show, you simply click on the "Add Show" button and you are left with three options. The first is to pick from an ever-growing list of shows that the folks at ReplayRadio have found on the Internet (the list gets updated regularly with additions and modifications) and ReplayRadio will adjust the time properly based on your time zoe. The second option lets you pick from a similar list of over a 1,000 Internet radio channels. The final option lets you specify any valid URL (it even comes with an advanced feature called "URL Finder" which will help you find those hard to get URLs buried in a popup window).


From there, you can fine tune the show's recording options. You can adjust the time and days that the show is on, you can tweak the quality settings to reduce disk space, and there are several options to split a show recording into several different tracks. You can also tell it to delete a show after a predetermined number of days. It can record both Windows Media streams and Real Audio streams, assuming that you've downloaded Microsoft's and Real's free software clients. The product also comes with built-in support for burning music and MP3 CDs directly, assuming you have CD-R drive, as well as direct support for iPod and iTunes.

I continue to find handy uses of the software. For instance, there are many audio streams of archived shows that I like that have been put up on a website. I find that instead of listening to them on my computer in real-time, it would be handy to download them to my MP3 player for future listening. Now with a few clicks of my mouse, I set up ReplayRadio to record them during the middle of the night while I'm sleeping, and badda-bing, badda-boom, they are sitting on my hard drive the next morning ready to be synced up to my MP3 player.

The product also has some interesting hooks for third party developers. A developer can create a batch file to post-process a recording for instance, or add a new scheduled program programmatically from another program. It even allows web developers to create a special encoded URL so that other ReplayRadio users can just click on the link to add a particular show. Finally, they've implemented the whole product to be UPnP server so it can communicate with other consumer electronic devices.

There are some minor drawbacks, but nothing that greatly impacts how one would use the product. For instance, you can only record one show at a time so you are out of luck if there are two shows on at the same time. The quality, greatly improved if you download the free Enhanced Sound Driver, is dictated by the quality of the stream, and for some talk shows that use a highly compressed, low quality stream, they can still sound a bit tinny and hollow. The user interface for viewing recorded shows are a little light on features; adequate for many people, but not as nice as some MP3 managers like Windows Media Player.

ReplayRadio also has some interesting add-ons for purchase that I haven't yet tested. For instance, they have a product called Replay Player that does the equivalent of Tivo's "Pause LiveTV". There is also an add-on that has a more comprehensive guide to upcoming programs called vTuner, which may be good for searching for new content. They also have some additional software for connecting to Palm and PocketPC devices.

ReplayRadio is supported on Windows 98 or higher, and your computer must have a sound card. They offer a free limited demo and if you decide to purchase it for $29.95, they offer a 30 day guarantee.

If you're a fan of radio, this is definitely the product for you. At this point, I can't imagine getting through my commute any other way.

Additional Info:
TVHarmony Product Tracker: Time-shifted Radio

Posted on November 10, 2004

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Comments

Also try www.radiotime.com, it works with streaming radio and the radioSHARK and has much broader and deeper radio program listings.

Posted by: Bill at August 17, 2005 07:50 AM

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