Setting up the Wi-Fi connection with the Automatica proved a little trickier. The device includes its own installer, software that works with PC or Mac. When I launched it on my computer at work, it popped up a Wi-Fi configuration screen that found all the available networks.
I selected CNET's public network, but the Automatica could not make a connection due to the network's Terms of Service agreement. As is typical with many public networks, CNET's requires potential users to accept the Terms of Service, which would normally appear as a Web page on a computer or smartphone. The Automatica wasn't set up to transmit this acceptance, so it couldn't make the connection.
The Wi-Fi configuration screen did, however, offer a password field, so I was able to make it connect to my home network.
Inrete also offers an Android app that tethers the Automatica to the phone, letting it update through the Android phone's data connection.
With the device configured and content selected on the Web site, my podcasts and music automatically updated whenever I brought it within range of my network. Its 2GB storage capacity is enough for most podcasts, but you will have to be more judicious with music selections.
I was not able to get a precise idea of when the device updated when I brought it within my network. I checked it periodically for 2 hours, but didn't see an update. However, within 4 hours new content had downloaded to the device.
When I plugged the Automatica into a car's USB port, all of the MP3 content showed up and was playable through the car's stereo interface.
No better than a smartphone
The Automatica's niche is somewhat limited, but for commuters with a car and home Wi-Fi network, it eliminates the need to load new content onto a USB drive, then bring it down to the car every morning.
Its biggest rival will be the smartphone, which accomplishes the same tasks as the Automatica with more versatility. In that contest, my money is on the smartphone.