I first reviewed a wireless music player about five years back. There was Internet radio even then, but the experience of running those stations from around the world inside your living room was anything but easy. But now Internet and wireless networks are much more common that they were earlier. It has also become much easier for wireless players to log on to Internet stations of your choice. In fact, the experience is good enough for you to look at these as replacement to your old fashioned radio experience. This week I had the opportunity to test the new Bose SoundTouch Portable wireless music player. Here is what I thought.
Design: The SoundTouch Portable, in fact the entire series, looks a lot like the SoundDock devices from Bose. The Portable is obviously the smallest of the series and weighs under 1.5 kg, making it very easy to move around the house. The Bose build quality is obvious everywhere. But I did not really like the Formica-like finish in some places. There is a small OLED panel in the front that shows basic notificiations. On top are six channel buttons flanked by power, aux, and volume buttons. The same buttons are recreated on a very basic remote. It is as simple and functional as any design can be.
Setup: This is a crucial part of the device. So if you are not one of those who have a wireless set up at home, this isnt meant for you. To set up the device you need to first connect this to a PC and configure it to your Wi-Fi network. There is nothing to be worried of here as the app will handhold you through the entire process. All you need to know is your network password. The SoundTouch app will also install on your desktop in the process. You can use this app to control the player as well as add channels from what seems like a curated list to the station slots. It also connects to the iTunes or Windows Media Player where you have catalogued your music. So one of the stations can be your own playlist. This might sound complicated, but trust me it is quite easy. Plus, you have the option of adding the same app on your Android or iOS devices to keep changing channels without having to switch on the PC every time.
Performance: Being a self confessed Bose fan