Friday, October 20, 2006

Something for the Christmas list: The InFusion wireless streaming player

Hypothetical situation: You enjoy the vast array of radio programming available online, whether it be liberal talk, eclectic music, foreign radio, or maybe your favorite hometown station. Or, you like listening to Stephanie Miller but your local station thinks you prefer Jerry Springer (or vice-versa)? Unfortunately, to this point we've all been at the mercy of radio stations telling us what to listen to. But someday, the tables could be turned.

With many metropolitan areas building wireless infrastructures, it's inevitable that a device will come along to take advantage of a potential portable streaming boom. And now, that day is very near.

Torian Wireless, a small Australian company, will introduce the InFusion, essentially a 'Wi-Fi 'Walkman'. The InFusion is a portable, battery powered device which you can tune to any of thousands of Internet radio stations. It also has an FM radio, an audio recorder, and an MP3 player with a maximum 4GB capacity (via a memory card).

So, what will this neat little toy do? If you live in a Wi-Fi hot zone, you potentially have access to a vast array of radio and streaming audio choices. Let's say your town doesn't have an Air America Radio affiliate? No problem. You will now. Love the choices offered by Radioio? Bring it with you! Need a cool secret agent soundtrack while you're driving to Casino Royale to face Le Chiffre? Check. Or, for some reason, you feel the desire to listen to your favorite Clear Channel station that sounds remarkably like the Clear Channel station in your town and other towns? They've got you covered.

So, what's the catch? Well, InFusion relies on Wi-Fi connectivity. Meaning that you can only pick up programming in an area that offers wireless capability. This would include just about any McDonalds or Starbucks, many workplaces, and a growing number of municipalities that are building wireless networks. Someday, you will all be able to listen to live streaming audio in the car, bus, subway or even while jogging. Neat, huh?

And the price for this little slice of the future? Torian lists the InFusion for $189 on their site, thought the retail price could be up to $229. Not a bad price for what could be the next iPod. And probably easier than lugging around that big laptop.

Look for a November release, just in time for the holidays.


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