Turn Up Your Net Radio

SAN FRANCISCO (04/14/2000) - Have your local radio stations repeated their playlists one time too many? Ready to branch out into the world of Internet radio? Thousands of stations are out there waiting to be tuned into, and IM Software Tuner, a new downloadable Internet radio program from Sonicbox Inc., is there to bring you the best of them.

IM Software Tuner is unique in that it has 800 Net stations, selected for their programming and broadcast quality and divided into 25 distinct 32-station categories. IM Software Tuner also features a customizable "Z-Band" to which you can save your favorite stations or local playlists. Supported formats include Real Audio, Microsoft Windows Media, and MP3.

The variety of stations Sonicbox presents is truly staggering. Sonicbox carries stations from around the world, plus offers a host of Net-only stations.

Experimental, classical, talk, country, sports, oldies--it's all there, free for the taking. It's hard to imagine someone not finding a station to like.

Best of all, IM Software Tuner isn't shackled with banner advertisements, unlike competitive tuner programs.

Some of IM Software Tuner's features, however, I found to be of dubious utility. The console includes buttons that let you send "smile" or "frown" events to the stations to let them know what you think of their programming.

The Tell Me More button, which you can click to receive an e-mail containing information about the artist, would have been useful if any of the stations I listened to supported it. To make matters worse, more than half the number of times I tried using these features, the tuner crashed. I quickly learned that once I found a station I enjoyed, it was best to leave it alone. The more fiddling you do with the console, the greater likelihood the tuner will go down or at least need to rebuffer the stream.

Be forewarned: IM Software Tuner, and Internet radio in general, won't run on just any old PC. Sonicbox recommends that you install its software on PCs equipped with at least 64MB of RAM, 40MB of free disk space, and a (recommended) 128-kbps or greater broadband connection to the Internet. Suffice it to say that when it comes to listening to the radio online, more is definitely more. My PC met these requirements easily, but it still choked and sputtered. Some users might find this annoying, but I thought it a small price to pay for the variety of music available directly to my desktop.

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