You might easily be fooled by the Aluratek Internet Radio Alarm Clock’s dowdy, low-tech design. It’s easy to dismiss as one of those cheap, gray market knockoffs usually found on drug store appliance shelves. But the beauty of this feature-laden radio lives beneath its skin. Yeah, it’s an alarm clock. Yeah, it’s an FM tuner. And yeah, true to its not-so-creative moniker, it’s also an internet radio with access to more than 11,000 channels around the world. But like those late-night infomercials (the kind you might half expect to see this radio advertised on) we gotta say: “But wait, there’s more.”
Aluratek had the forethought to include a connection for your PC media player as well as a 3.5mm jack suitable for most MP3 players. Plus there’s even a USB port on the front panel lets you listen to tracks stored on a USB 2.0 flash drive.
Setup is about the same complexity as turning on a light switch. Power up the radio and the available WiFi networks appear on the 3-by-1.5-inch LED front panel display. Using the surprisingly well-laid-out remote control, you scroll to the one you want. Until it’s reset, this network is automatically connected. There’s also an ethernet port for an optional get-gadget connection.
While there are navigational buttons on the top of the radio along with the vital snooze alarm button, the remote controls all of the radio’s features. Choosing from the more than 11,000 online radio stations is a tad overwhelming but a little help narrowing them down is offered by categories such as country and city locations, genre, popularity and so on. Click the remote’s heart button and your favorites are stored for easy retrieval. Of course with hundreds of stations in each genre (most with arcane, unhelpful names), it can take some digging to find what you like. That’s not exactly excruciating, mind you; we found some cool ambient stations in South Korea and unexpected country music channels in the Czech Republic and Sweden.
Music streamed smoothly without hiccups or static even on the outskirts of a WiFi network. When we plugged in a USB memory drive loaded with MP3 tracks, the four-line LED display immediately displayed a directory and file listing, each accessible by scrolling on the remote. Playing music loaded on our PC required Windows Media Player 11 and a few settings to allow sharing the music with the clock radio.
Fortunately you can add external speakers to the Aluratek because its what comes out of its integrated 2-watt speakers sounds like — surprise — a bedside clock radio. Still, its vast capabilities make the Aluratek Internet Radio Alarm Clock worth considering, especially if you want to travel the world without leaving your house.