Motorola iRadio Beta Impressions

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The upcoming iTunes phone isn't the only mobile music device from Motorola. They're also testing out 'iRadio,' a podcast-like service for their phones. One of our readers is in the beta program and sent these impressions.

OK, so I've had the iRadio setup for a few days now. They sent me a new Motorola E680i. The box included a PC cable, travel, and auto chargers. Also included 2 batteries, earphones, and a mini-jack adapter.

Had to go to Moto's site to download the iRadio application and install it. The first problem is that they're using an ancient version of Java. Had to uninstall a newer version and install the older one for iRadio to install. The other problem is that it installs an iRadio service that's constantly checking for new content and downloading it in the background.


Lots more after the jump.

So, the nuts and bolts of it is that they deliver podcasts of Live365 and Music Choice to your desktop through the iRadio software. Whenever you sync the device to the desktop, it updates the files on your device (which are Real DRM'ed) and the playlist that controls them. It allows you to do this on any of 6 channels. You can also add your own mp3 files to any of the six channels to access your own music.


Also shipped was a bluetooth controller for my car stereo that I have yet to install. It has to be done by a professional installer. Theoretically, with it, you can stream the music from the device to your radio just like it's satellite.

Personally, it reeks of an uber-mp3 player that you can get formatted content on. It depends on the price of the service, but I can't see too many people chumping up for it. The phone is retailing around $400 right now. Unless Moto or the carrier that picks it up offers a huge incentive, the entry point is too high.


I mean, with allofmp3 and an iPod, you get the same functionality. Bluetooth to the car is a nice feature, but not worth the extra cash and/or time for pro installation (to me at least).

He later added:Correction on the Java issue. Apparently it's been an issue that a lot of testers have had, so they're planning a release to bring it up to version 5.


Another thing I forgot to mention is that it also has an FM tuner, but you have to use the included headphones. The cool thing is that they are stereo headphones, but also have a mic, so they can be used as a hands-free headset, as well. The device will also stop the music when a call comes in and resume automatically. The drawback is that the jackasses who walk around with their hands free in all the time will walk around with the other ear plugged up, as well. We can only hope that it will increase their probability of a random encounter with a fast-moving dump truck.

Another big flaw is that it can only be synced with one PC. So, if you travel, be sure it's you laptop that it's syncing with.


However, after looking at the XM2go stuff, this could be a decent bargain. With iRadio, you get more hours of content and can load your own mp3 files. iRadio suffers from a lack of variety in content (but it is in Beta and I would expect that to increase). XM2go uses an FM transmitter, and iRadio uses bluetooth (which requires pro installation on a limited number of compatible aftermarket head units). XM2go can get live content, and iRadio has to be docked at the PC once it runs out. The device that carries iRadio is a phone and a PDA. Seems like a classic case of jack of all trades, master of none.