Revo Ikon Digital Radio Review

Revo Ikon Digital Radio Review

 title=I don’t listen to a lot of radio, but the Revo Ikon seemed to offer enough features that weren’t just digital radio to raise me from my lethargic stupor. It wasn’t everything I hoped for though.

Unboxing the Ikon, I was quick to appreciate the modern design of the unit. I think one of the main reasons digital radio’s launch did absolutely nothing for me was the fact that 90 per cent of the devices on shelves at launch looked like they should have been on sale 50 years ago. I swear, I’ve seen some of those digital radios in the background of Bioshock 2‘s 60s theme. In any case, the Ikon has opted for a somewhat stylish black plastic build with a silver trim. Oh, and a touchscreen LCD smack bang in the middle.

The radio does a lot more than just digital radio though – it also receives FM and Internet radio, plays back Last.FM (if you’re keen enough to pay their subscription service) and features an iPod/iPhone dock. The good news is that they all work, but there are a few things worth mentioning about each function:

iPod Dock:
When you plug your iPhone into the adapter, it starts playing automatically. Which could be problematic if you’re trying to impress your rock-lovin’ new girlfriend but you were last listening to Hillary Duff’s greatest hits in the car. The other issue is that the controls on the LCD are simple at best. There’s only play, rewind, pause, stop and mute. You can’t choose your tracks from here, to do that you need to use the iPod itself, which can be awkward with a Nano or uncomfortable with a Touch.

Digital Radio:
Did I say this thing looked good? That was before I pulled out the antenna. Seriously – this thing has a stainless steel antenna which you have to manually pull out like radios back in the 80s. It completely ruins the sense of style. However, signal quality was crisp and sharp (most of the time), and it’s nice to have song and program details on the screen.

Internet Radio:
Typing in your wireless network’s password on the small touchscreen is a royal pain in the ass, but once done you never have to worry about it again. And what’s not to like about having access to thousands of radio stations from around the world?

If you’re willing to pay for the service, this seems to work. I’m not willing to pay – the pay of a Gizmodo editor sadly does not allow to spend money on services I can get for free elsewhere (with a little VPN knowhow).

Apparently the Ikon can stream music from your PC. It uses UPnP to work though, so Mac users (like myself) need to download a bit of extra software. By the time I’d done that and accessed my music, I could have created a playlist, synced it to my iPod and played it from there. Maybe PC users would have more luck, but this wasn’t the best experience for me.

FM Radio:
It’s an FM radio. What do you expect?

Alarm Clock:
This is perhaps the best and worst aspect of the Ikon. You can program the device to act as an alarm clock, and you can choose to be woken up by any one of the many music sources. Like to wake to internet radio? Done. Digital radio your wkae-up medicine of choice? This does it. Prefer the sound of your own music? Select the iPod as your alarm source. It all sounds fantastic – and is – until you turn off the light to go to sleep. Then you discover that even on the dimmest setting, the LCD is still seems like a spotlight while you’re trying to get to sleep.

Still, maybe you can sleep with the light on. I should also mention here that sound quality is decent from the stereo speakers, although far from awesome. It’s a bit lacking in the bass end of things, a bit heavy in the mid-range. It does get pretty loud though, mostly without too much distortion.

If this was $400, I’d heartily recommend it, despite its flaws. But for $649, it just seems a little pricey.