Wi-Fi radios come in many shapes and sizes, but the Oxx Digital Tube is in a class of its own with its jumbo, hollow-bodied design. The Tube's unique look accommodates its built-in subwoofer, and yes, we found that the radio delivers much more bass than is common on a tabletop radio, although the overall sound quality is just about average. Like virtually all Wi-Fi radios, the Tube offers up thousands of free Internet radio stations, but it isn't exactly easy to sort through them all on the unit's skimpy two-line LCD display. We were also disappointed that the Tube lacked any additional streaming services, like Pandora or Slacker, which are offered on competitors such as the Grace GDI-IR2000 or Acoustic Research ARIR200. If you have plenty of room and listen to a lot of bass-heavy music, the Tube does offer up a glitch-free experience at an attractive price. However, in most situations, we think buyers will be better off with more compact competitors that offer up additional streaming services.
True to its name, the Oxx Digital Tube really does look like a long, metal tube, measuring 15.5 inches long, 4.9 inches high, and 5.1 inches deep. That's a big footprint--much bigger than most Wi-Fi radios we test--and you'll need plenty of counter or shelf space to fit it.
We liked the navigation wheel on the front, which made it easy to quickly blaze by stations if you know what you're looking for. The rest of the front panel buttons are a little confusing--they double as playback controls and assigning presets--and we also really would have liked a dedicated mute button.
Navigating the thousands of stations is handled on the LCD screen. Unfortunately, it's only capable of showing two lines of text at a time. That's not enough to handle navigation duties, and the situation is only made worse by the fact that only one line of text is usually doing the navigating; the other line provides additional info, like how many stations are in a particular genre. The display also doesn't provide any song or artist information, which limits its usefulness as a music "discovery" device.
In addition to Internet radio stations, the Tube is also capable of playing back podcasts using the Reciva interface. Simply add the RSS feed to your Reciva account, and you'll be able to browse through recent podcasts on your radio and stream them directly, without downloading them first. We had no trouble listening to the latest episode of WNYC's Radio Lab.
The Tube also is capable of streaming music off a connected PC sharing folders or running a uPNP server. We've tested several similar radios that offer this functionality, but we can never get it to reliably work, even in different testing locations. At best, consider it a bonus if it works, but don't count on it.
The silver portions of the Tube are actually made of aluminum, which give it a solid feel that's lacking on other Wi-Fi radios. The contrast between the aluminum tube and black faceplate looks better in photos than it does in person. Overall, it definitely has a unique look, but its relatively large footprint makes it a struggle to fit it in many places.
Connectivity is basic on the Tube. Around back, there's a stereo analog output if you'd prefer to use the Tube with a stereo system. There's also an Ethernet port if you'd rather use a more stable wired connection instead of the built-in Wi-Fi. The rest of the connectivity is rounded out by the headphone jack on the front panel. Those ports will probably be plenty for average users, but we would have liked at least an auxiliary input for connecting an iPod in a pinch.