Grace Digital Bravado GDI-IRD4400M review: Grace Digital Bravado GDI-IRD4400M

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0

Average User Rating

4 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Wi-Fi radio that tunes into thousands of free Internet radio stations; better sound than step-down models; can access both Pandora and Sirius; uses online Reciva portal to organize your favorite stations and podcasts; fast start-up time; both WEP and WPA security supported; remote included; five separate alarms.

The Bad Rival Squeezebox Boom offers more features and performance (albeit for more money); no auxiliary input; build quality isn't as solid as similarly priced radios.

The Bottom Line The Grace Digital Bravado Wi-Fi radio has a unique component-style design and better sound than step-down models.

Editors' Top Picks

The Wi-Fi radio category has grown steadily over the last two years, thanks to greater consumer awareness and the popularity of streaming music services like Pandora. Grace Digital Audio was one of the early entrants to this product category, and the Bravado (model number GDI-IRD4400M) represents a different direction for the company. The Bravado ditches the standard tabletop radio look, instead placing a pair of stereo speakers on top of the unit and giving the faceplate the feel of an old-school stereo component. The rest of the unit will feel familiar to Grace Digital fans, as the radio supports streaming services like Pandora and Sirius, and has access to Reciva's large database of Internet radio stations. We were originally put off by the Bravado's $250 price tag, since that put it into direct competition with the excellent Logitech Squeezebox Boom, which offers more features and better sound. But Grace recently dropped the asking price to a more palatable $200, making it worth consideration over the other models in the company's line.

Design
Most Wi-Fi radios have a fairly generic look, with a single speaker on the left and controls on the right. By contrast, the Grace Bravado looks more like a classic stereo component: it has a square look with sharp corners that makes it feel like it could be rack mounted (it can't). There are six silver buttons on the front panel, and each button serves two functions, depending on whether you're listening to Internet radio or streaming your own music. The large metal knob has a nice brushed=metal feel and it's used to both control volume and navigate menus.


The silver buttons and knob give the GDI-IRD4400M a retro feel.

While the faceplate is made of plastic and has a glossy black look, the rest of the unit features a wooden cabinet, with a matte black finish. The build quality of our review sample was technically fine, but it doesn't quite have that high-end feel, like you'd expect from, say, a Tivoli radio. The stereo speakers are positioned on the top of the unit, behind a rectangular speaker grille.

The four-line LCD display is mostly the same as on other Grace radios and as always we appreciate that it shows artist and track information on Internet radio stations that support that feature. The major difference is that while the displays on the step-down models easily wash out when you move off-axis, we had no problem reading the Bravado from any angle. The background color is also brighter, giving it more contrast with the black text, which makes it easier to read from far away. It's a nice step up, but the Squeezebox Boom's display trumps it in size and brightness.


The included remote's button layout makes it easy to navigate by feel.

The included remote is another welcome improvement over step-down Grace radios. The little silver clicker has more heft than a standard credit-card-style remote and the button layout is better than average, with a nicely separated volume rocker and directional pad. The mute buttons also has a prominent position in the upper right-hand corner, which is helpful when you want to quickly shut off the sound.

Features
Editors' note: The GDI-IRD4400's feature set is very similar to the step-down GDI-IR2000, therefore much of this section is virtually identical.

The Grace is a Wi-Fi radio, meaning it tunes into the thousands of free Internet radio stations rather than standard AM/FM fare. If you can't stand what's available on AM/FM (neither can we) and don't want to pay for satellite radio (neither do we), there's plenty of great stations available online for just about everybody.

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Where to Buy

Grace Digital Bravado GDI-IRD4400M

Part Number: GDI-IRD4400M Released: May. 20, 2009

MSRP: $249.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May. 20, 2009
  • Connectivity wireless
  • Connectivity Protocols IEEE 802.11g
  • Functions network audio player
  • Type network audio player
About The Author

Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.