Imagine if you could have all the best elements of FM radio (, new music, free to use) with none of the worst (annoying ads, jingles, mid-Atlantic DJs) -- plus the ability to skip through songs at will. The Intempo Rebel promises all that and more, sampling FM radio stations to convert analogue tunes into digital MP3s, which it then stores on a memory card to playback or copy. It's available now for around £70.
Recording from the radio is as old as tape decks, but Swedish company is the first to free you from hovering over the record and pause buttons praying that Smashy doesn't chatter over the intro. Its technology, built in to the Rebel, automatically analyses the FM radio station it's tuned to, saving complete songs to its 256MB internal memory without any ads, DJs, news breaks or jingles. The process works very smoothly -- just slot in a Memory Stick, SD card or USB key, wait a few hours (a full day is best) and it will have saved and copied up to 40 tunes.
And that's all there is to it. A single button swaps between radio, MP3 playback and the built-in clock (which doesn't have an alarm). The tuning buttons either skip through the FM spectrum or MP3 tunes, and the Rebel continues to sample even when set to zero volume. Although FM reception is acceptable through the supplied wire aerial, there's a socket for a cable antenna.
Sound quality from the built-in stereo speaker is fine for bedside or kitchen use, although there's little bass and the smooth, crisp tone becomes shrill at higher volumes. You can plug in headphones for a sonic boost -- or simply copy the MP3s over to your computer. Files are stored as unencrypted 192Kbps MP3s.