One of our favorite products of 2008 was the Grace ITC-IR1000B Wi-Fi radio. It was affordable with an excellent feature set, and its sound quality was top-notch for the price. The Grace GDI-IR2000 is its successor, and it fixes two of our biggest criticisms by adding a remote to the package as well as an auxiliary input so you can easily connect an iPod.
The look of the GDI-IR2000 is nearly identical to that of its predecessor. From the front, the left side is dominated by a 5-inch, five-watt speaker behind a black grille. Unfortunately, we felt as if the GDI-IR2000 was a step backward in terms of sound quality; it's not bad, but it sounded tinny and muffled next to last year's model.
Toward the center are nine buttons used to load presets, navigate menus, and control playback with digital music. The small knob underneath controls volume and the larger knob is used to navigate menus; you push the menu knob to make selections.
One of our biggest knocks on last year's model was that it lacked a remote control, so we were glad that the GDI-IR2000 includes a clicker. It's a typical credit card style remote that comes with many inexpensive electronics. It includes all the functions included on the front of the unit, but also like the front, there's no mute button. We would have preferred a more substantial remote, like the one included on the Squeezebox Boom, but it's perfectly acceptable at this price point.
With so many stations available, the main difficulty is sifting through it all. The main way to do this is using the LCD, which breaks it down by Location and Genre. While the interface is perfectly fine, we recommend ditching it favor of the online portal, Reciva. This is actually the service that powers the Grace and after you associate your radio with your free account, it's a much easier interface to find and tag your favorite stations for listening.
In addition to Internet radio stations and podcasts, the GDI-IR2000 can also access Pandora and Sirius. Pandora creates custom radio stations based on what you music you like and finding similar artists; we're fans of the free service and think this is a great added feature.
You can also add podcasts to your radio as well using Reciva. We plugged in the RSS feed for WNYC's "Radio Lab" on Reciva and almost instantly a list of the recent episode popped up and we were listening to the recent "Diagnosis" episode--no need to wait for it to download first.
You can also set up to five alarms on the GDI-IR2000. The options are flexible, allowing you to set different alarms for the weekends and weekdays, and the capability to tune into basically any music source as your alarm (or a standard beep.) The GDI-IR2000 isn't set up as an alarm ergonomically--there's no snooze function or the capability to quickly change the alarm time--but it may work well enough for some buyers.