Listen to the latest show:

Sangean WFR-27C Wifi Radio

Ever since I first got dial up in the early 2000's I've listened to internet radio. I've always enjoyed hearing other cultures and accents and even niche Latin jazz stations. That probably explains my shortwave hobby.
At Christmas "Santa" got me something that may seem a little unusual in 2018, a WiFi radio. Why unusual? We live in an age when our smart phones (and smart watches) are glued to us and it is just as easy to jump onto an app; e.g. TuneIn and search for the exact same stations on our smart phone and listen via high quality 
Bluetooth headphones. 

In a way it almost makes a WiFi radio redundant, doesn't it? 

In some ways WiFi radios had their glory days in the 2000's and early 2010's before smart phones were as prevalent and offered a simple way to give the listener a PC-free option to listen to internet radio. So in 2019 it is understandable that a large portion of the market already has this need filled by smart phones or even just using their PCs. However, there's something special about holding a physical radio. It draws back to my argument that SDR radios just don't give the listener the same satisfaction as listening on their own radio. Sure they have their place and can be beneficial to listen to stations that you can't get in your region, but somehow I find it clinical and uninspiring. That's just me. 

The Sangean WFR-27C is a large-sized portable radio offering FM, DAB+, WiFi Radio, Spotify and an Audio Player (mp3, aac+ and WMA). The first thing I noticed when opening the box was this big ugly power adapter and how similar the styling looks to my other Sangean ATS-909X. However, the adapter provides the charge needed for the built-in "rapid battery charger" which was charged my AA's in about 2 hours. That feature is handy, the radio requires 6 AA's, two more batteries than I'm used to. So far I've noticed I can listen for about 8 hours on a single charge, not too shabby considering this radio has a 2.4inch colour screen. 

When I turned on the radio for the first time I was greeted by a setup wizard which was very easy. The only downside was tediously finding all the correct charters for my WiFi password. The radio did an update and allowed me to search DAB+ for stations. This radio seems quite sensitive on both FM and DAB+ and seemed to decode DAB+ very quickly and seems to be better dealing with weak DAB+ signals due to the long antenna. This may prove a better option for those in a rural area of Tasmania that can't quite get a decent DAB+ signal. The EQ option helped make DAB+ sound a tad better and the speaker provides nice high-quality sounding audio. Of course I would prefer two speakers for a stereo experience but that may make the radio a tad too large for a portable. 

The WiFi signal in my house can fluctuate on my iPad in certain rooms, however to my surprise this Sangean WFR-27C shows full signal strength on the screen in the home office which is normally a trouble spot for my phone and seems to be picking up my wifi signal well including in the backyard where it can be patchy. 

Navigating the 1000+ stations is quite easy. You can scroll down to either stations or podcasts and select a region or genre. Doing a quick search of podcasts I searched under "World" and found some BBC podcasts and even some French podcasts including France Musique Couleurs du monde which loaded and worked well, even including a france musique podcast logo which buffered in about 10 seconds, a little longer than I'd like. It was a 128kbps mp3 stream, I do wonder if the buffer size is larger to ensure stability? After a few minutes hearing animal sounds, thunder and African tribal music with french commentary I thought I would search for something else. 

In the "News" category I found some ABC Australia podcasts including AM, PM and The World Today. Also CBC Podcsasts such as As It Happens, CBS News Face The Nation, Deutsche Well News, NHK, NPR - however All Things Consider had an error "No shows available" as did Morning Edition. This is always a challenge as stations change URLs, however I kept on searching and found more podcasts not working, including issues with RTE and VOA's podcasts. I went into other sub-menus and found about half the podcasts listed to no longer work. What a disappointment! I persisted and searched for NZ podcasts and ended up with RadioNZ and heard Nine To Noon with a show about The Muppets paying homage to Jim Henson. It worked well and at 128kbps mp3 was a nice step up to hearing the show on Radio New Zealand's shortwave signal. 

When searching for radio stations again you can choose by genre or region which made it easy for me to find my favourite stations. I found CJAD 800 from Montreal and pressed down the favorites button and it stored. Every time I press 1 the radio will promptly load CJAD. It took some digging to find CFRB Newstalk 1010 which was hidden in a different genre of sports, so if you can't find a station it very well may be there in the wrong category. I also easily found CBC Radio 1 Toronto and Vancouver and I even came across a station called WPAB 550 from Puerto Rico playing spanish music.

If you can't find a station you would like, the good news is you can go onto the undok website and add your own stations.

In a nutshell: A really high-quality radio at a premium price. Battery life is average. Internet radio works well with no buffering, however it can be slow to load stations and switch between different menus and sometimes can freeze up when searching for stations. Can be controlled by an app on your smartphone. 

- Good crisp audio
- Has every radio station I listen to.
- Easy ergonomics
- Presets
-  High quality 2.4 inch LCD screen

- Can be slow to load internet menus
- AC Adapter size 
- 20 seconds to turn on
- Undok app is basic
- Requires a premium paid spotify account

Retail cost: Around $200-220 AU. 

Score: 4/5   

No comments:

Related Links