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Yuraku's portable wireless Net radio

It requires hot spots, so expect lost signals.

In journalism as in technology, one learns early to K.I.S.S. ass. That is, you Keep It Short and Simple, or end up feeling like an ass. So what's with the convoluted naming convention from some tech vendors? Take, for example, the "Yur.Beat Fusion Stream" from Singapore-based Yuraku. Who needs a lobotomy after that?

Crave Asia

Names aside, Yuraku claims this is the world's first portable wireless Internet radio with full multmedia features. And there lies the catch. Want Internet radio? Well, you need a wireless hot spot to connect to. Although once online, you can tune into about 10,000 Internet radio stations via the vTuner service. When we tested it on our office Wi-Fi, Mumix Radio from Japan came in loud and clear, as did a few other world channels. But expect some connection lag, lost signals and buffering to occur occasionally. Fortunately, there's FM radio if you're commuting.

We'll admit it's pretty darn tiny, about the size of a Creative Zen Digital Media Player. As expected of a music device, there's a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack for third-party ear cans, although we were told the Singapore set does not ship with Sennheiser-branded headsets bundled for Europe. Other than that, this works like one would expect of most multimedia devices. There's support for MP3, WMA, OGG, AAC, WAV, ADPCM and AIFF music files, as well as MP4 and AVI movies. There's a photo album with slide-show feature and a nifty media streamer to transmit music or data from any shared drive. It also has a microSD card slot for up to 2GB, which you'll need as there's just 1GB of internal NAND flash.

Overall, this is a simply built device. What you see is what you get, starting with the six buttons below the display. Navigation is via the Forward/Backward/Menu and Play (enter) keys. The microSD slot sits on the bottom edge, while at the top you'll find the power/hold/reset buttons. The left top edge holds the mini-USB port and headphone jack.

According to Yuraku, this offers up to 8 hours for Internet radio, 8 hours max for music streaming, up to 25 hours for MP3 playback, and up to 4 hours of video playback. Charging is via USB, so you may want to invest in a mains adapter so you don't have to totally reply on a notebook or PC port.

Here's something odd we encountered. Charging the device appears to lock the player down. No amount of key pressing would bring up the menu. We had to unplug and power it on again before we could access anything.

The 2.4-inch LCD display is not the best we've seen. So just remember that this is first and foremost a portable Internet radio, and you'll be fine with that. Not to mention being spoiled rotten for choice when it comes to those 10,000 music stations.

The Yur.Beat Fusion Stream is priced at S$299 (US$199), available in Singapore and parts of Europe.

(Source: Crave Asia)