The wireless has come a long way since the days of cat's whiskers, Bakelite headphones and aerials that looked like your gran's washing line. The good old BBC is still up there with the leaders, too; its Listen Again service means you can get a blast of a Mozart symphony or a reading from Moyles' Profanisaurus up to seven days after broadcast. Great -- but it's still a bit old fashioned. You need your PC. Who wants to have to warm up some monstrous machine just to listen to Auntie?
What you want is a MagicBox Imp. Decked out in modernist iPod white and brushed metal (don't worry, it'll be retro by Christmas), this stumpy little gizmo is a Wi-Fi linked Net radio player. There are a few out there by now, such as the , doing almost the same trick: give them a sniff of broadband and they're off, scurrying across the Internet to find and deliver streamed audio.
What gives this box its magic is its ability to digest Real streams -- including those of the BBC's Listen Again treasure trove. Got a few moments and want to catch up on the news, or some gem of a gig that was on 6Music last night when you were working in the office? It's all on there.
It looks good on live radio too. You can spin the dial and cast your ear over stations grouped by region -- just like the old days when your Pye Excelsior had Hilversum, Prague and Buenos Aires printed on the dial. You can explore the African airwaves with the merest finger flick, without knowing your megahertz from your Malian Mande music, or cruise the dark side of Finnish pop. Lordi!
And when you tire of that, there are genre groupings to explore, like 60s, 70s, 80s, Rock, Classical, Talk, News and Experimental -- entire radio bands tuned to your pleasure. The thing even lights up in the dark, just like a classic wireless, and won't disgrace the bedside table (although do remember to check with other bed occupants before exploring the Experimental stations at 2am).
The only reason we don't want one is because we've got one. Expect a review in the near future. -RG