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The Pros and Cons of Online Radio

By Edited Feb 13, 2014 0 0

Radio Through the Internet

The internet is a wonderful tool providing one with all forms of information from irrelevant facts about Danny DeVito to tips on how to fix a showerhead. The advancement in online technology in the multimedia industry now allows us to view movies online, watch music videos and even enjoy online audio streaming of different global radio stations. This is very exciting as you get to learn about different types of music via this online streaming. However there are also many disadvantages that one must be aware of when utilising an online-radio service.

What are the benefits of an online radio?

1. Experiencing new stations

Previously radio-stations were centralised to a local area of either the town or country. By utilising online radio you will be provided with far more accessibility to both FM and DAB digital radio stations including those in foreign languages. Furthermore, the menus of certain online radios allow an individual to search the vast amounts of options via genre or country. This way you are able to play music from the genre you love, and for the expats, from the country you call home.

2. Listening to podcasts and audio streaming playbacks

One of the most exciting features in the audio internet arena is that of live audio streaming. However, many of us are unable to listen to the live stream for various reasons such as being in the wrong time zone or having prior commitments at the time of streaming. In order to accommodate individuals who are unable to listen to a particular interview or live concert, online radio provides people with podcasts and audio streaming playbacks.

The podcasts are short recorded sessions from a live audio streaming session which can be accessed via the commercial website. Often these podcasts are of interviews with celebrities or are important news broadcasts. The audio streaming playbacks are very similar and can be accessed via an iPlayer in addition to an online radio.

3. The media sharing option

While most individuals will assume that internet radios are purely a means of listening to international radio stations or live audio streaming, this is not their only function. The majority of online radios also feature a music player mode used to stream music from different devices on your home network. This means you can play music from your home music collection and sort through the playlist using the radio's screen and listening through the radio's speakers.

4. Eliminating the DAB receptor

Online or internet radio requires an internet connection to work and nothing else. This means it does not require a signal from a DAB or FM transmitter as the old-fashioned radios. So even if you live in an area that does not receive quality FM signals there is no need to fiddle about with the aerial, all you need is an online radio for all your radio requirements.

What are the disadvantages of an online radio?

As with all things in life, with benefits come pitfalls and this is the case with the online or internet radio.

1. Internet connection IS required

In order to maintain an online-radio connection an internet connection is essential. It is recommended one have a wireless broadband connection with high-speed data downloads as this will eliminate and lagging in feed or buffering. Of course, one may use an ADSL or cabled connection if absolutely necessary but this may lead to much frustration and less options when looking at global radio stations.

2. Too much choice!

The majority of people find it difficult to decide on a particular station when using a regular radio, but finding a station on an online-radio is a thousand times worse. Online radios will usually present with relatively small screens without any alphanumeric buttons so navigating menus can be rather frustrating and time consuming. Unless you are 100% sure of which global station you wish to listen to the chances are you will spend more time searching for a channel in one night than actually enjoying it.

3. Time delays

Live audio streaming does present with a time delay due to the time required to transmit audio feed. This delay is not very long but it can be notable, particularly if you are listening to an important sporting event or something similar which requires 'real-time' updates. If you don’t have the best broadband deal you may also get jittery online radio performance.

4. No fast forward or rewind option

While online radio is very useful when listening to audio streaming playbacks and podcasts, it does have one downfall. When one listens to a podcast via a website there is the option of rewind or fast forward, however when streaming the podcast through an online radio service the choice to rewind or fast forward is  eliminated.

By removing this option one is required to listen to the entire podcast or audio streaming playbacks in one go. Of course you can pause and replay, but do this with caution as the streaming may become compromised. While some may feel this lack of fast forward or rewind is irrelevant you should consider that if you wish to listen to one particular feature of an interview you will have to listen to the entire thing before hearing it. Furthermore, if you miss the item you will not have the opportunity to rewind.

5. Limitations on data download

Another disadvantage of using an online radio is that it can utilise a great deal of data, this is the reason reviews recommend purchasing unlimited download broadband packages before using an online radio service. It is estimated that online radios stream music at an approximate rate of 128KB per second. This means they would utilise approximately 56MB of data within one hour. This can be very expensive if you are not on an unlimited data allowance deal.

Final words on the matter

In conclusion, an online radio service can be highly useful and create an incredibly enjoyable music experience by providing access to global radio stations. However, it does have certain disadvantages which must be taken into account before using this online feature. 

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