Backstage: Why the RadioSHARK may change our lives | iLounge Backstage

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Backstage: Why the RadioSHARK may change our lives

picIt’s rare that something potentially amazing arrives for testing at iLounge, but today, one such something showed up. I’m currently playing with Griffin’s long anticipated, once-rumored-never-to-be-coming-out RadioSHARK, a PC/Mac compatible accessory that lets you record FM and AM radio broadcasts for later listening… on your computer OR iPod.

Or iPod. Record radio on your computer and listen on YOUR iPOD. RadioSHARK is the device that Howard Stern and other talk radio fans have wanted for more than a decade, and it supports AAC format (read: iPod compatible, highly compressed) recording. It’s like TiVo, but for broadcast radio, and with far more on-the-road enjoyment potential. Imagine “time shifting” (recording) your favorite radio programs and listening to them whenever you want. Or pausing and rewinding live radio in real time. It all works. If no one screws this cool toy up with a lawsuit, it could change the way we listen to radio - and dramatically improve revenues for radio stations by rendering their late-night and early-morning programming even more accessible to larger audiences.

Only limitation so far: I’m getting a little static in the high-interference location where the RadioSHARK’s being tested. But I’m going to try and get rid of that. This thing is too cool not to like.

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Comments

1

Every time I hear of this device, I’m shocked that it’s considered so innovative.

What I mean by that isn’t that it is NOT a cool device (which it certainly is), but rather that I’m so surprised it hasn’t existed for several years now.

Devices like this and the computer-ized TiVo solutions are perhaps the only reason I regret my recent total dumping of desktop computers… My Powerbook can’t record radio shows while it’s in my backpack on campus.  :-D

The above mini-paragraph leads me to my idea for the RadioShark II:

Imagine a RadioShark II similar to the original that has its own hard drive.

Imagine this RadioShark II has a “program and forget” programming functionality.  You plug it in via USB, program it for recording, and disconnect it from USB (This one would need external power).  It records what you told it to, in the format you told it to, and saves it to its own hard disk, allowing you to transfer it to your computer the next time you plug it in.

Now *that* would be nice.  :-D

Edit by Jeremy Horwitz, March 2005: iPodlounge has deleted a collection of negative and derogatory comments from “audiogeek” on our site, which we discovered have been posted by a writer for competing publications. As he has trolled and posted obnoxious comments in a number of threads, picking fights with our readers and editors, he has been banned from the site, and we strongly oppose his repeated mischaracterizations of various products and our editorial opinions. This comments thread was affected by his posts, and has therefore been modestly edited. If any of the other comments below do not make sense in the context of these deletions, we apologize.

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on September 30, 2004 at 3:47 PM (CDT)

2

this is very exciting.  it gives each of us a whole new reason to upgrade to the higher capacity ipods!!

Posted by StinkieDMB in Pittsburgh, PA on September 30, 2004 at 5:10 PM (CDT)

3

The author nailed it right on the head when he said that “Howard Stern/other talk radio fans” would be dreaming of a simpler USB-based device like this.

I know of three people (personally) who have to dub Howard’s show to their computers either using an aftermarket setup, or by using a primitive system piped in through their audio cards via an outboard radio. All this so they can upload these files to USENET so fans living in areas where the show isn’t on can listen to Howard. Yes, even to many troops stationed overseas…. believe me.

Not anymore. But I hope this device operates simpler, especially for the PC guys.

Now if Howard goes to satellite radio, all bets are off for the RadioShark.

Or is that version 2? Hm….

Posted by Stern Fan on September 30, 2004 at 7:31 PM (CDT)

4

I’m already doing this with Replay Radio. Not with AM/FM but with Net streams. But so far everything I’ve wanted to record (This American Life, Car Talk, HHGTTG from BBC1) has a stream. And it was a lot less then $70!

Posted by T. Bradley Dean on October 1, 2004 at 12:12 AM (CDT)

5

uhmmmmm… i’m a totally converted mac-geek but radio cards for PCs has been in existence for years, the only innovative thing here is that this thing is nicely packaged and has a USB output.

on the other hand you could do exactly the same thing connecting a portable radio to your sound card with a jack-jack cable (actually this is the first thing i tried on my venerable sound blaster, ten years ago).

i really can’t believe you people are excited about this. it’s almost as exciting as those ludicrous griffin ilight…

regards
Marcello

Posted by Marcello on October 1, 2004 at 1:16 AM (CDT)

6

The keys to this product’s appeal are:

* Not Net streams. AM/FM radio. You can’t find Stern on the Net, or lots of other popular talk radio. And I’d be surprised if (besides MTV.com) you’ll find a world premiere song from a major artist showing up on a net radio station. Lots of regional radio shows have exclusive content that would be worth recording over the air. My vote: circa 13 years ago, Tom Green’s Midnight Caller show in Ottawa, Canada…

* You can do realtime pausing and rewinding etc like TiVo. Can’t do this with your venerable Sound Blaster, even today. And can you schedule recordings for any time with that hook-up? Maybe. But Griffin’s included software makes it easy.

* And Jerrod, there is a device (sold through C. Crane) that records to media cards and stands alone. But it also records in its own proprietary format. Griffin’s device records directly into AAC format, which at 64kbps in our initial testing created files at a meg per minute, versus AIFF files that consumed more than 10 megs a minute. A meg per minute is still quite a bit, but if a Stern radio show is, say, four hours (240 minutes) or five hours (300 minutes) long, your iPod could hold a week’s worth of shows and still have space left for tons of music. And that’s pretty cool, IMO.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on October 1, 2004 at 1:40 AM (CDT)

7

this is great…but when is this fawking thing coming out… I mean how fawking long does it take to make a USB radio?

Posted by impatient on October 1, 2004 at 2:32 AM (CDT)

8

“You can do realtime pausing and rewinding etc like TiVo. Can’t do this with your venerable Sound Blaster, even today. And can you schedule recordings for any time with that hook-up? Maybe. But Griffin’s included software makes it easy.”

Plug in any AM/FM/TV card into a PC. Run Media Center (one of yuour aqdvertizers I believe). Use the built-in Media Scheduler to tune and record (in any format you wish) from the radio (or TV). Problem solved.

This is not a hard problem. But I have to admit the packaging for this shark thingy is quite clever and probably what’s getting them so much notice.

Posted by media scheduler on October 1, 2004 at 5:35 AM (CDT)

9

Assuming that you can get Media Center to encode in MP3 format - which used to be something you needed to pay extra for - I would agree that this is a comparable solution for PC users’ recording needs. But again, I ask, does any AM/FM card for PC permit realtime pause/rewind?

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on October 1, 2004 at 9:11 AM (CDT)

10

“Assuming that you can get Media Center to encode in MP3 format - which used to be something you needed to pay extra for”

Not Media Player! Media Center! I nearly always see their advert on ipodlounge, haven’t you checked out their stuff? Media Center’s never charged for any codecs as far as I know. Why would they? There’s no margin in it for J River. They make their money from producing a player that supports as many media codecs as possible.

AM/FM card pause/rewind? No, that’s all software based. Any PCI-based sound card and hard disk post-1997 or so has more than enough bandwidth to to time-shifted audio playback with or without recording. Good TV cards with hardware MPEG can do time-shifted video and audio playback and/or record, and with the right setup (ie, MythTV on Linux) you can even run multiple streams of playback and record while timeshifting.

As for software-based “Tivo-Like” functionality, like most things in Windows, if you want it, it’s available. Has been for a few years now.

Blaze Radio Recording is a nice implementation that’s been around for a few years. I do think that with the new Shark thingy they will have to lower their price!

An earlier poster has already mentioned Replay Radio. This even features iTunes integration. Radio Wizard is an even more slavish Tivo copy.

If you are into digital radio there’s Time Trax for XM, which is so cool and “Tivo like” that it is being sued by both the RIAA and XM.

Posted by error will robinson on October 1, 2004 at 3:48 PM (CDT)

11

Why do you keep writing about this technology as if its something exciting and new? There are dozens of products already on the ‘net (some are free, some are shareware) that do this and much more.

Is this an example of blog-payola?

Posted by G.M. on October 3, 2004 at 4:43 PM (CDT)

12

Adam Curry started a project called iPodder (http://www.ipodder.org). This software does basically the same as the RadioShark, but then for audioblogs via RSS.

Posted by Johan on October 4, 2004 at 10:20 AM (CDT)

13

“there are tons of little pieces of software you could cobble together to approximate the same functionality as the SHARK, but nothing comes close to the ease of use and integration. You plug it into a USB port and launch the software.”

Here’s the thing. Is you already have a TV/Tuner card in your PC, such as an MCE or similar, then you don’t *need* to plug anything into any USB port. You run the “little pieces of software” and *it* *just* *works*. Possibly a cheaper solution than buying a whole new Shark, and simpler.

Posted by cobbler on October 4, 2004 at 2:16 PM (CDT)

14

Is the radioshark software applescriptable? I haven’t heard anyone mention applescript in their reviews.

Posted by mrklaw on October 4, 2004 at 4:51 PM (CDT)

15

G.M. - We have not and will not accept “payola” for either iPodlounge main site pieces or entries on Backstage. Period.

As has been mentioned here by others, find me a single free or shareware piece of software that tunes and records from AM and FM radio into AAC format and adds the recorded files directly to iTunes, and I’ll mention it in my full review of the RadioSHARK. And when I say “tunes” I mean without additional hardware. If your assertion is correct and there is some way for me to find a free or shareware product that does just what RadioSHARK does, cheaper and unassisted by hardware, tell me what it is.

The point is that for the vast majority of people out there who not have or plan to buy a radio tuning card for their PC, or want to hunt across the Internet for a bunch of software tools (some of which cost $50 alone), RadioSHARK is an all-in-one package for under $70 that “just works.” Like the iPod, it’s not the first product of its kind, but it’s one that a lot of people are going to love because it’s so well executed.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz on October 4, 2004 at 8:05 PM (CDT)

16

All things considered, I’d have to agree with Jeremy. The shark is something to get excited about. The price, convienence, and features all in one. No cobbling needed.
Sounds great to me :)

Posted by Rob on October 4, 2004 at 10:13 PM (CDT)

17

Can one select songs from within a radioshark recording and transfer them INDIVIDUALLY to the iPod?

Posted by steve on October 7, 2004 at 3:00 PM (CDT)

18

The only reason why some are making such a big deal about it is that it addresses a “want” they have and it makes it easy for them to fill that want.

They either don’t have the technical knowledge or the desire to spend finding the software and putting together the necessary hardware and accessories to do it. This Radio Shark thing makes it easy for them. Just plug and play. Simple. And, I don’t think it’s a PC vs. Mac thing, because I can’t believe you couldn’t do the same thing on a Mac or that there aren’t similiar shareware/freeware software equivalents for the Mac faithful.

There isn’t anything revolutionary about it, but for the fact that it makes it so SIMPLE that virtually ANYBODY could do it without even thinking.

It’s for some, but, to me, it’s a niche market item with limited appeal. Maybe that’s why the maker wants to charge $70 for it. They realize they surely can’t make up a profit on volume.

Posted by jinzo-ningen on October 12, 2004 at 12:56 PM (CDT)

19

Marcello,
There is a fine line between completely ludicrous and simply cool and the iLights are on the cool side man.  Hey, if you’ve got 20 bucks to blow, why not?

Posted by supercarrot900 on October 13, 2004 at 6:23 PM (CDT)

20

I have been recording radio on my Mac for years (shortwave, mostly).  However, the one thing that has always been difficult to do was have it change frequencies and record at spot on times.

Radioshark does this, and I think that is unique even if someone has cobbled together all the software needed to import, convert, whatever, the audio.

My Radioshark is on its way!  Another beauty is the potential to receive digital AM/FM signals in the future with just an update of the software, as all you need to do is pull the signal in with the antenna - value added.

I listen to Coast To Coast sometimes, and this will cover the cost of their “Stream Link” offering in just a few weeks.

Posted by Adam on October 18, 2004 at 9:00 AM (CDT)

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