Product Review Archive

Product Review: Facebook Friend Wheel

I had talked about on this blog about the kind of influence different posts you make in Facebook will have in your Facebook Friend circle. In one of the articles, I had mentioned a Facebook application called Friend Wheel which shows a graphical representation of your Friend List.

You enable this free application by adding it to your Facebook Profile like you would with a social game like Farmville.

This application works through your Facebook friend list and identifies any situations where your Facebook Friends have other Facebook Friends that are in your list in their lists. Then it resolves these relationships in a graphical manner by plotting each Friend’s name as a node on the edge of a circle and showing each link as a line. It can show clusters of people who know each other through a particular community by “bunching” the people together. There is the ability not to plot friends that aren’t connected to other Facebook Friends in your list, which may be beneficial to those who have links with larger social circles.

The Wheel can he shown as a static image or, for most of us who have Flash-enabled Web environment (which doesn’t include the Apple iPad), there is a Flash version which allows you to hover over the name of a Facebook Friend and show their connections to any of your other Facebook Friends.

It can be slow with larger Facebook Friend lists, especially those that are well connected because of having to plot many nodes and draw many lines. But it is speedy with most Friend lists. There isn’t an option to take advantage of the “lists” function so that you can plot the Friend Wheel on the social sets that you define using these lists. As well, it doesn’t identify Facebook Friends who have subscribed to any particular Fan Pages or Groups.

One main use that I would find for this application is if you are investigating the “reach” of comments or other material posted on particular Facebook Friends’ Walls.

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Product Review – Revo IKON stereo table Internet radio (Frontier Internet Radio platform)

I am reviewing the Revo IKON, which is the first Internet radio that I have reviewed to be designed in a similar manner to a classic boombox. Here, it has been designed with that similar footprint in mind and also is equipped with stereo speakers that are angled outwards.


The unit actually has an oval shape and has a pop-out iPod dock on the front, under a colour LCD touchscreen which is the set’s main user interface. The volume knob and the power button are located on top of the set, although the volume knob is a rotary-encoder type which doesn’t show on the display what volume position you have set it to.

Operation and Sound Quality

The colour LCD touchscreen is easy to read and the user interface that it presents to you when you select stations or other options is similar to an automatic teller machine that uses a touch-screen. The home menu shows a list of all the sources available – DAB, FM, Internet, LAST.FM, Media Player (UPnP AV), iPod dock and auxiliary input.

It also comes with a remote control which offers volume control, snooze / sleep control, transport control for the UPnP media player function or attached iPods, LAST.FM song voting as well as the ability to turn the unit on and off. You don’t have the ability to change stations or sources from this remote control.

If you are using the Internet radio mode, you can’t have ready access to the preset stations like you can with DAB or FM where you press a star icon to see the preset list. Instead, you have to meander around the menus to see the preset list. This can be an annoyance to those who tune in to local RF-based radio and are likely to visit Internet radio programs frequently and can be a pain for older users.

The unit works with DLNA-compliant media servers but you have to use the touchscreen or remote control to navigate the DLNA media server. This is common with Internet radios because Frontier or Reciva, who make most of the firmware for these radios don’t support “three-box” operation using UPnP AV Control Points.

The set supports LAST.FM and can allow users to “scrobble” (expose listening habits to LAST.FM) content from LAST.FM content or from content from a UPnP AV / DLNA media server.

The set has a “clean-up function” that makes it easier to manage changes to the DAB station list, which can be of importance if it is taken between locations or the DAB multiplexes in a city are being re-arranged.

Revo IKON - iPod dock exposed

iPod dock exposed

The set has a similar tone control to the previously-reviewed Revo Domino, where you can select one of five tone presets or set up a customised tone preset. Here, you have bass and treble controls and a loudness-compensation switch. Infact, the “normal” tone preset is with flat bass and treble settings and with loudness compensation switched on.

Speaking of the sound, the sound quality is very similar to most of the low-end to mid-range portable radios made through the late 1970s to early 1980s. It can also fill a small to medium-size room with sound in an intelligible manner.


The set can work with WiFi networks that use conventional WPA2-PSK passphrases or can be “bonded” to routers that support WPS “push-button” configuration. This function should be made available not as a WiFi network option but as part of the setup wizard. It can store the parameters relating to four different WiFi networks, which can be useful for home networks with more than one SSID or if you take the radio between multiple locations.

This radio also has an Ethernet socket which adds plenty of flexibility to how it is connected to the Internet. Here, you could connect it to a HomePlug or MoCA “existing-wires” segment using the appropriate bridge adaptor, a WiFi network that it can’t connect to using a WiFi-client bridge or directly to to an Ethernet network like in business premises.

There is only one external output socket in the form of an SPDIF optical socket for connection to a digital amplifier, home-theatre receiver or a digital recorder like a MiniDisc deck. This is limiting as far as outputs are concerned because a set like this could benefit from an analogue output like a headphone jack (to connect to headphones or external active speakers) or a line output jack (to connect to another amplifier or a cassette deck).


One main advantage with this set is the stereo sound provided by the two speaker systems built in to the unit. This is an advantage compared to the Internet radios that I have been reviewing in the blog so far. The other main advantage that this set has is the ability to work with an Ethernet network rather than just a WiFi wireless network, which opens up a world of flexibility.

Other features that I like include the colour display, improved DAB handling and support for stations that present logos as part of their Internet-radio streams.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

One main limitation with the Internet radio function is the inability to access the preset-station list from all of the Internet-radio screens unlike what you can do with FM and DAB. This limitation could be rectified through a software update and impairs an otherwise very good Internet radio.

The other limitation with this set is the lack of a headphone jack or line-level output. This also limits the flexibility that the set could offer as far as connection to external audio equipment is concerned.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

Other than the few limitations concerning output connectivity and ready access to Internet-radio presets, this radio does have a lot going for it as a general-purpose Internet table radio.

It would work well as a radio for a kitchen, office or small shop, especially if it is used as a direct replacement for an older boombox or iPod dock or as an upgrade from a single-speaker Internet radio like the Revo Domino or Kogan Internet radio.

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Product Review – Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 7000 wide-format network printer

HP OfficeJet 7000 wide-format printerI am reviewing one of the few inkjet-based dedicated printers that can be connected to a small network. This printer, the Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 7000, is an A3-capable wide-format printer, but it has a little brother in the form of the OfficeJet 6000 which can only print on A4 paper. These printers, like the OfficeJet 6500 all-in-one that I had previously reviewed use the same family of ink cartridges as each other – the 920 cartridges for standard runs and the 920XL for high-yield runs.


Loading ink cartridges

The ink cartridges are very easy to install and replace and the lid is able to be operated without any extra effort. This would be typical of a dedicated inkjet printer rather than most of the multifunction devices that I have been reviewing.

Network connectivity

This printer connects to your network using Ethernet only and this may be seen as a mixed blessing because you can use a wireless client bridge for connection to a wireless network or simply use the existing-wires technologies like HomePlug powerline or MoCA to connect the printer in a more flexible manner.

You know when you are connected to your network if the left-most button lights up and you can check on the current IP address that it has taken by holding this button down for it to print a network report.

Software setup

Like the other HP printers that I have reviewed, there is a CD with all of the drivers and software that you may need to get your computers going with the printer, but I always prefer you to download the latest driver software from the HP website. This may also make sure that your printer can work with Windows 7 or Apple MacOS X Snow Leopard.

If you have another recent HP printer, you can get by with downloading the “basic” drivers rather than the full software set so as to allow it to work with the existing HP software. 

Print abilities

HP OfficeJet 7000 - head-on picture showing wide-format design

HP OfficeJet 7000 ready to take A3 paper

Here, I am mainly assessing the printer as an A3 wide-format printer, which is what the people who are after this model would be seeing the printer as. Therefore, I have run a significant number of tests on its ability to handle A3 print runs.

The time to print on to an A3 sheet of regular paper would be around 1 minute 38 seconds. It doesn’t matter whether the job was a photo “blow-up” or a text-graphics job.

I printed a photo of a baby in her father’s arms on to A3 paper to assess flesh-tone accuracy and quality and had found that that these had come up accurate even with a mixture of complexions. It may look better on photo paper but I don’t have any A3 photo paper to assess with.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The OfficeJet 7000 could benefit from increased local memory for buffering multipage A3 print jobs, thus taking the load off the host computer. It could also benefit from a dedicated A4 paper tray so that it can become useful as a secondary A4 printer, especially if it is the colour printer for an office.

Another limitation that these printers have is the lack of an automatic duplexer which may limit paper-saving efforts that may be in force in many offices.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This printer is suitable as a large-format complementary printer for a small organisation who has an inkjet or laser multifunction printer as their main printer. Here, it could work well for printing large spreadsheets, “download-to-print” campaign / promotional materials, “inkjet proofs” of publications, maps, presentation slides and similar documents.

Both it and Its little brother, the OfficeJet 6000 could also be used as a complementary colour inkjet printer for an office where there is primarily a laser or LED monochrome printer or multifunction centre as the main printer device.

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Product Review- Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 6500 all-in-one printer

HP OfficeJet 6500In this review, I have been given the opportunity to assess a multifunction printer that is optimised for small-business use rather than a consumer-rated unit. These units are designed to be economical to run, have high-speed throughput for scanning and printing; as well as supporting a higher duty cycle than the consumer units.

The HP OfficeJet 6500 is a size similar to most multifunction printers and has the controls located closer to the user. It has a large high-contrast two-line LCD monochrome display which is good as a status display for tasks like faxing or scanning. The controls are arranged in a task-specific manner that makes it easier to perform what you want to do.


The only assembly that you would have needed to do beyond installing the ink cartridges is to attach the duplexer mechanism to the back of the printer. This unit, which looks like a laser printer’s toner cartridge just snapped in to the back without much effort.

Control panel and display

Control panel and display

As far as connections go, the printer can be directly connected to the host computer via USB or it can be connected to an Ethernet wired network or a WiFi wireless network. There are two RJ11 phone sockets for use when setting the unit up as a fax machine. This is to permit you to connect existing telephone devices to the unit thus obviating the need to use a splitter.

The printer comes with a CD-ROM which has all of the drivers and applications needed to get the printer going, but it would be a good idea to download the latest drivers from HP’s Web site. This also means that newer operating systems like Windows 7 or MacOS X “Snow Leopard” will be catered for.

Loading ink cartridges

You don’t need much effort to open or close the lid to install new ink cartridges. As well, like the Photosmart Wireless multifunction printer that I reviewed previously, you don’t have to mess with any stays to keep the lid open while changing the cartridges. Similarly, you don’t need much effort to remove or install the ink cartridges and there is nothing “fiddly” about this job.

Network setup and abilities

This printer can work in a small network as a network printer or scanner. It connects to the network either via 802.11g WPA2 wireless or Cat5 Ethernet cable, which can also work in conjunction with a better Wi-Fi client bridge or an existing-wires technology like HomePlug powerline or MoCA TV coaxial.

You can use the printer’s control panel to enrol it with a wireless network, including entering the WPA-PSK passphrase using the numeric keypad in a manner similar to how a teenager taps out a text message on their mobile phone. On the other hand, you can use the USB port and the supplied software to configure the printer for your wireless network. It doesn’t support WPS easy-configure modes, but this omission may not be missed in a lot of business setups.

If the printer is connected wirelessly to the network, it can lose touch with the network when it goes in to low-power state and you may have to turn it off and on using the ON/OFF switch on the control panel when you want to start printing. This problem is due to the absence of a standard “wake-on-wireless-network” protocol for activating network devices connected to a wireless network that have entered a low-power state. This problem doesn’t occur if the printer is connected via an Ethernet network whether directly or via a HomePlug segment.

There is a built-in Web server that is used for managing the unit and this is accessible through a shortcut on the HP software. Windows Vista and 7 computers can gain access to this interface through the “Network” option as part of the DPWS technology that is part of the operating systems. There is also the ability to start “plug-and-play” installation from this interface by right-clicking on the printer icon in the Network folder and selecting “Install”. Here, you would need to make sure that the drivers are installed in the computer beforehand.



The OfficeJet 6500 Wireless comes with a rear-mounted duplexer attachment so you can save paper by printing on both sides. The only disadvantage with this is that the document has to have a larger bottom margin so that the duplexer can properly handle the paper when turning it over.

I have the printer print a large document (214 page user manual) with double-sided printing in order to assess how it goes with handling a large print run. This would mimic conditions similar to printing a large report or something similar; or simply sustaining a large run of documents. I have then found that it could complete this kind of job unattended without printing-reliability issues.


Automatic Document Feeder

Automatic Document Feeder

This OfficeJet unit can also work as a scanner and has an automatic document feeder that is capable of handling 35 pages at a time. Here I ran the automatic document feeder through a reliability test by having the unit copy a 20-page document fed through the feeder and it performed the job properly although there was a high-pitch squealing noise from the ADF. This phenomenon may be particular to the review sample that I was using.

It supports scanning over a network link, either with the scan job initiated at the computer or at the unit’s control panel. The latter method requires you to have the supplied scanner software on your computer to receive and process the documents. This software allows you to scan as a document or picture and save the file to the computer’s local file system or send it as an e-mail.

Use with digital-camera cards

There is a built-in memory card reader for use with digital-camera memory cards but this function is very limited. This is brought about by the printer not having a colour LCD display which can make it easier for you to choose pictures to print. If you want to print selected images, you would need to select the pictures using your camera’s DPOF print selection menus before putting the card in the printer.

Another limitation is that the card reader doesn’t support the SDHC memory cards which are now being used in most of the current digital-camera range. On the other hand, the card reader is accessible over the network as a network storage location with its own drive letter on Windows systems but it can be accessed as the MEMORY_CARD share-name for the printer.


The OfficeJet 6500 is an inkjet plain-paper fax machine that can work as an elegant replacement for that economy-tier fax machine that many small businesses and home users see as their fax solution.

It can be set up to work on a dedicated line or on a shared line with support for distinctive-ring setups (separate number for fax) or fax auto-answer. The latter mode has it that the unit takes the call if it hears the distinct repeating “CNG” beep from a transmitting fax machine when another device like an answering machine answers the line. When you determine the fax header information, you only need to provide your own name or company name and your fax number rather than having to determine “CSID” and “TSID” fields which can be obscure when you set up fax equipment.

The unit has memory for one outgoing fax job (for scheduled transmission) and is able to keep new received faxes in memory at all times or only during error conditions. There are limitations with this machine’s implementation is that you cannot set the fax machine to receive “only to memory”, a feature which could come in handy for secure “out-of-hours” fax reception; and you cannot schedule multiple outgoing fax jobs, which may be a pain in the neck for people who do a lot of overseas business.

It also supports transmission and reception of colour faxes with compatible fax endpoints and can work in high-resolution modes for “best-case” fax operation. There is a 100-number “speed-dial” list with the first three entries being available for “one-push” access from the control panel.

The unit supports “fax-from-computer” with a dedicated fax print driver and this can be done from any computers that exist on the network. It can also support “fax-to-computer” with jobs ending up at one computer on the network. The “fax-to-computer” mod is limited to monochrome faxes and requires a computer to be alive and running the supplied software all the time.

Output Speed And Quality

The output quality is very typical of a good business inkjet printer and it takes a few seconds per page to print a typical business document. You don’t lose any extra speed when you print colour documents, especially now that most business documents now have some form of colour on them.

If you do double-sided printing, you will have a speed penalty of 10 seconds per sheet of paper to allow the ink to dry on the “first” side of the paper.

Photos printed with this printer have a good dynamic range and the flesh-tones being accurate even when handling a group shot with people of different races. This is on a par with the Photosmart Wireless printer that I reviewed previously and it certainly says that the unit could make a satisfactory effort for printing photos in a “general-purpose” office environment.


The unit is easy to use for most tasks and offers a capability set at a price that most small business owners and home-office owners will appreciate. Here, you have functions like an automatic document feeder, double-sided printing and wired / wireless network connectivity as well as separate cartridges for each colour that will be appreciated by the cost-conscious business user.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

I will always be saying this with all consumer and small-business network-ready inkjet printers, especially multifunction printers, is that the manufacturers could improve on the provision of non-volatile onboard memory. This will certainly increase user productivity for improved multi-source print queue management, failed-job recovery, improved fax functionality – more delayed fax sends, receive-to-memory, etc. It can also cater for “CD-free” network printer setup through the Web interface.

Another point of improvement that I would like to see is support for Internet-based (NTP) time synchronisation. This would avoid the need to manually set the time and date whenever ther is a power failure or as part of setting it up. It could then be based on time-zone settings with automatically-updated daylight-savings rules similar to what happens with most computer operating systems.

It can also benefit from the SD card slot supporting SDHC cards in order to work with the newer digital cameras that can use these cards. As well, it could benefit from a USB host port for connection to PictBridge-enabled digital cameras.

Conclusion and Placement

From what I have see, I have described this unit as a capable general-purpose workhorse that suits most small-business and home-office requirements. So I would recommend it be used in a home office or “back office” or “reception-area” in most small organisations. As well, it could work as a colour “general-purpose” multifunction printer for a place like a clinic where one or more monochrome laser printers may be used for receipt printing and similar applications.

The best price that I could get for this printer was AUD$178 from the Officeworks office-supplies chain in Australia. As well, the ink cartridges cost $22.26 each for the colour cartridges and $45 for the black cartridge assuming you are using the 920XL high-capacity cartridges. There is the option of using the cheaper “920” standard-yield cartridges but I would suggest using the 920XL high-yield cartridge for the black ink if you do receive faxes on a regular basis.

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Product Review – Hewlett-Packard Photosmart Wireless network multifunction printer

B109n I am reviewing the Hewlett-Packard B109n Photosmart Wireless network multifunction printer which is HP’s latest entry in to the basic network-enabled consumer multifunction printer market. It is based on their basic HP Photosmart printer, but has 802.11g WPA2 WPS wireless networking added to it.

The Photosmart Wireless is a piano-black machine with a very small LCD mounted at an angle on the left of the unit. The display has touch-buttons that light up in a “pinball-machine” fashion to provide an operation experience similar to most automatic-teller machines. This is with buttons placed on the edge of the screen and whatever the button does is indicated on the display screen.

HP Photosmart Wireless display

Control panel


The setup experience is typical for many consumer multifunction printers, where you have to install drivers from a CD-ROM supplied with the printer. You can download the software from HP’s website if you want to make sure the printer works with the latest drivers for your operating system, and will have to do so for Windows 7 systems.

Loading ink cartridges


This printer has been improved as far as access to its interior is concerned. When you open it up to load ink cartridges, you don’t need to operate any catch to release the lid. As well, the lid stays open and wide without the need to work with any stays or levers to prop it up, which is also of benefit for people who are short-sighted

There is no need to apply any extra pressure to remove or install any of the ink cartridges, which I consider important for older people or people who have arthritis or similar limitations.

4 ink cartridges that are easy to load

This printer uses one cartridge per colour, which allows you to replace the colours that you need to replace when they run out. This is compared to an inefficient practice older colour inkjet printers where you replace a “colour” cartridge if any of the colours run out. It can work with a standard cartridge or, a large-capacity cartridge which is available at a slight price premium over; and you can choose to run with either of these types for each of the colours.

Network capability and setup

B109n connected only to power

Only cable connected to printer is the power cable

There is the ability for this printer to support “push-button” or “PIN-number” setup from its control panel if you have a WPS-enabled Wi-Fi network. On the other hand, you have to connect it to a host PC and run the software on the CD-ROM to set it up to work with a Wi-Fi network.

The printer doesn’t have an Ethernet port, so that puts other network technologies like regular Ethernet or HomePlug powerline out of the picture. This may not be an issue with typical wooden or brick-veneer suburban homes where you can receive Wi-Fi everywhere from one router, but can be an issue with older double-brick homes or larger homes.

As far as network functionality is concerned, you can print or scan via the network. There isn’t a “wake-up” arrangement which allows you to bring the printer out of low-power mode from any network-connected computer. Therefore you have to make sure that the printer is fully on when you want to start printing or scanning.


There were no major hassles involved with printing documents, which it was able to do very quickly. I even ran a “pressure-test” print of one of the HP manuals for this unit from HP’s website to see how it can handle a large printing job like a school assignment or large report. It was able to allow 30 pages to “pile up” on the paper tray without causing reliability problems. As well, I was able to replenish the paper supply and continue printing by using the unit’s controls and without having to go back to the host computer when it ran out of paper.

This reliability has been provided for because Hewlett-Packard had stuck to the same kind of inkjet printing mechanism for their desktop inkjet printers ever since they released the original Deskjet in 1988.

For photographic work, the unit worked well with keeping the colour balance and flesh tones right. Infact it didn’t “over-saturate” pictures even when a person who was in the picture had a reddish complexion. It still took its time to print the photographic images because of the requirements of that job.

It can also print from camera cards including SDHC camera cards, and can print DPOF print orders that you set using your camera’s user interface. It still has the usual limitations of requiring the card to stay in the slot during printing, which can be a limitation when you want to grab more “moments” while the unit is printing your pictures.


The printer can scan documents and images, whether direct-connected or network-connected. If you want to start the scanning job from the printer’s control panel, you will need to make sure that you select the desired computer to send the job to. This is determined by whichever computers have the HP software installed on them.

I have scanned some 35mm prints using this machine, including some pictures of people and the printer’s scanner was able to reproduce the pictures properly. This included a picture that I took with people who had different complexions and this kind of scenario could be a trial for some scanners.

The Photosmart Wireless printer took around 15 seconds to copy an A4 page, no matter whether the unit was to make a colour or monochrome copy of that page. This would still make the printer suitable as a convenience copier for most households.

Fit and finish

This printer is finished in that “gloss piano black” look that makes it appeal to home use. This would be more of an advantage with rooms where the furniture is primarily a “dark wood” finish or a finish similar to that lacquered-black grand piano. The only disadvantage with this finish is that it attracts fingermarks too quickly.

There is still that sense of sturdiness that is common with good-quality printers with everything snapping in to place in an assured manner.


It is easy to perform routine maintenance tasks on this printer like replacing ink cartridges because there isn’t much effort required to open the lid or remove and install the cartridges. As I have said before, this is important for those with weaker hands like older people.

The printer is very quick at most of the routine tasks that you would expect it to do. It also has the hallmarks of Hewlett-Packard’s build quality and reliability that they have been known for.

The software isn’t likely to get in the way of your computing tasks or place unnecessary burdens on your computer’s performance. Infact, the only way it makes its presence felt is to inform you of your print-job status or to accept scanned documents or images if you start the scan from the printer’s control panel.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

One main limitation is that you have to connect the unit to a computer running supplied software via USB for it to work with Wi-Fi network segments that don’t use WPS configuration. It cannot be used with wireless networks that use WPA-Enterprise security, nor does it have an Ethernet socket for use with other networking technologies. These particular limitations are most likely to be typical of a low-end Wi-Fi-enabled consumer multifunction printer.

There isn’t a USB host socket, which rules out the use of the printer for PictBridge printing or printing from USB memory keys. As well, the small display screen may be a hindrance for some people, especially those who have eyesight limitations.

Now that the cost of secondary-storage flash memory is becoming very cheap, manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard could install an extra SDHC card slot or low-capacity flash memory in these printers and use it as a low-capacity “hard disk”. This could permit print-job buffering for memory-card or network print jobs, CD-free setup for USB or network installations and improved network-scanning workflow.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend buying this printer as an entry-level Wi-Fi network all-in-one printer, especially if you are moving your computing lifestyle towards the “new computing environment”. This is based around a laptop that connects wirelessly to the Internet via a wireless router and is likely to be used around the house. It would also work well as a secondary Wi-Fi network printer for the home such as one that would be placed in the family room while you have the more-expensive unit placed in the study or home office; or as a Wi-Fi network printer for use at a secondary home location like a holiday house or city flat.

For small-business use, this printer could work well as an “away-from-office” multi-purpose printer/scanner where there are occasional small print runs or the need to do “quick copies”. The network ability would only support Wi-Fi network setups that don’t use enterprise-level authentication. This would mean that it can work properly with the typical 3G routers that “edge” temporary networks.

The machine is priced at a “street price” of AUD$129 (obtained from Officeworks advertisement) with original-name (HP Genuine) ink cartridges (part number 564) costing AUD$18.76 for the black and AUD$16.76 for each colour. You can also buy original-name (HP Genuine XL)  “extra-yield” (part number 564XL) cartridges for AUD$51.20 for the black and AUD$29.56 for each colour if you find you do a lot more printing.

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Product Review – Revo Domino Internet table radio (Frontier Internet Radio Platform)

I am reviewing one of Revo’s latest Internet radios – the Domino FM/DAB+/Internet table radio which one of many of the radios appearing in this class.Revo Domino 2

This set comes in a charcoal-grey rubber-textured housing, with a joystick on the front as the main selection control. It also has a knob for selecting between operation modes and another knob to turn the volume up and down. As well, you turn the radio on and off by pressing this knob in a similar manner to most car radios.

The display is in the left “porthole” on the front of the set and is a small OLED display with a similar “off-white” colour to the vacuum-fluorescent displays on most consumer electronics made by Sony and Panasonic.

Revo Domino - display close-up There is an integrated iPod dock that is covered by a removable panel and the set came with Apple-style iPod inserts that work with whichever iPod or iPhone you have.

It also comes with a card-style remote control which, like its stablemate, allows for operation from a distance and allows for direct access to the locally-preset stations.


This process is similar to most Frontier-platform Internet radios like the Kogan and the Revo iBlik. The set is capable of supporting “quick-setup” with WPS “push-button-setup” routers and is the first one that I have reviewed to offer this method/ But this option isn’t made as part of the Network Setup Wizard, rather you have to go to System Settings – Network menu and select “PBC setup” to instigate this kind of setup.

It is also the first Internet radio that I have reviewed that supports multiple wireless-network profiles (SSID and security-parameter combinations). Here, this set can remember the profiles for the four last-used wireless networks but the user can delete a particular network profile from the list.Revo Domino - remote control


It works in a manner similar to the other Internet radios that I have tried, with a “mode selector” and heavy use of menus. The unit also supports FM radio with RDS and DAB/DAB+ digital radio for regular RF-based radio service. The aerial for this is a telescopic rod one that is clipped vertically on the back of the unit so you don’t have to unclip it when you just need to extend it upwards.

The set stores 10 preset stations for each “band” – FM, DAB and Internet radio; and you select them by pressing the star button and highlighting the station with the joystick then pressing the joystick to hear it. To set a station as a preset, you press the star button to show preset list, then hold joystick button in until “Preset saved” comes up on display. For Internet radio, this is in addition to the favourite stations that you have identified at the Website.

The set works properly with a UPnP AV / DLNA home media network and the transport controls on top of the set allow you to move across the music collection that you are playing.

The set can work as a replacement for the old clock radio in the bedroom. The Alarm button on the front of the set is for enabling different previously-set alarm times when the set is off or to set the alarm times when the set is on. You can set two different alarm times and determine what to wake to – buzzer, FM station, DAB station, Internet station or iPod for each alarm time. Like the iBlik that I reviewed previously, you can set an alarm event to occur on a particular date, every day, every weekday or every weekend. When the alarm sounds. all the buttons on the unit reset the alarm. The joystick works as “snooze button” and repeated pressing of it allows you to extend the snooze time. There is a sleep-off timer that causes the set to stop playing after a known time. but you have to go through the menus to start the sleep timer, something you wouldn’t do if you are very tired and just want to drift off to music.

There is inherent support for the “personal-music” service which can “learn” your music tastes from music played from your iPod,’s Internet radio service or a UPnP AV media server.

Sound quality

The Revo Domino is the first Internet radio that I have reviewed to have tone controls. These are found under “Equaliser” option in “System Settings” menu. There are 5 preset tone settings plus a user-determined tone setup – bass, treble and loudness-compensation.

The NXT “dual-radiator” speaker allows for some “punch” in the sound without suffocating the vocals when music is played. It also reproduces speech very clearly and the set can put up a significantly loud volume without distorting. This can be of benefit if you need to use it in noisy environments.

This unit has the similar output level to most radios of its kind, enough to fill a reasonably-size room with easily–identifiable music and can compete with the noise emitted by typical kitchen appliances.

Points for improvement

There are a few places where the Revo Domino could be improved.

One is that the OLED display could be made a bit larger. This could improve its useability, especially if the user doesn’t have good eyesight, which may be common with senior citizens.

It also could benefit from having a headphone jack installed, which can cater for late-night listening or for playing it through an active speaker system.

Conclusion and placement notes

Beyond the above-mentioned limitations associated with a small display and the lack of a headphone jack, there isn’t anything much else that I could fault this set on.

Here, I would recommend that the Revo Domino be best sold as a “step-up” Internet radio / iPod-dock combination for use in the kitchen, office, workshop, or small shop. It can also work well as a clock radio even though you have to go in to the Main Menu to set the alarm or enable the sleep timer.

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Product Review – Kaspersky Internet Security 2010

This is my first Internet-security product review for this blog and this product class is a very competitive one, now that there are free “home edition” or “entry edition” programs being offered to Windows platform users from the likes of AVG, Avast and Microsoft. Kaspersky has been known to offer a line of affordable desktop and network security programs that have been built on a strong security platform and this program is no exception.

Installation and Use

The installation went ahead very smoothly and was able to draw attention to a clash between this program and my prior setup which was Windows Firewall as the desktop firewall solution and Avast Home Edition as the anti-malware solution, and offered to uninstall Avast Home Edition before installing itself.

Kaspersky - dashboard

Kaspersky's main operating console

The main software dashboard has a “traffic-light” bar at the top which glows green for a safe environment, yellow for situations that need your attention and red for dangerous environments. It uses a tabbed interface which can show information that pertains to particular aspects of the program. This dashboard can be minimised to a “red K” indicator located in the System Notification Area on the Taskbar and ends up being relative unobtrusive. If it needs to draw your attention, a coloured “pop-up” message shows near that area. You don’t even see “splash screens” when the program starts during the system’s boot cycle, unlike what happens with Norton AntiVirus and other computer-security software delivered as “crapware” with many Windows computers.

Kaspersky - notification bar

Notification Tray icon

The program does download many updates through the day because of the nature of the computer-security threats that evolve too quickly. This is typically indicated with a “globe” symbol underneath the “red K” indicator when the program is minimised to the System Notification Area.


Kaspersky’s performance under a “full-scan” situation is typical for may desktop computer-security applications because this involves reading files from the computer’s hard disk which is competitive with applications that need use of the hard disk. It had highlighted a password-protected executable file as a risk because of the fact that this can become a way of concealing malware.

The software’s “behind-the-scenes” behaviour can impinge on system performance if you are doing anything that is graphic intensive. But there is an option to have the program concede resources to other computing tasks.

Kaspersky - Gaming profile

Gaming Profile option

The program also has options available for optimising its behaviour to particular situations. For example, there is an option to disable scheduled scans when a laptop computer is running on batteries and a “gaming mode” which reduces its presence and can disable scheduled scans and updates when you are playing a full-screen game or video and you don’t want the program to interrupt you.

From what I have observed, Kaspersky does a very good job at maintaining a “sterile zone” for your computer. For example, if you plug in a USB memory key, the program will scan the memory key for malware. This is important with malware like the Conficker worm that has been attacking Windows computers and creeping on to USB memory keys.

Privacy protection and security options

There is an optional on-screen virtual keyboard that works against keystroke loggers which capture data from the hardware keyboard.It may not be a defence against keystroke loggers that capture the character stream that is received by an application or software that records on-screen activity.

There is also an anti-banner-ad module which may appeal only to those who “hear no ads, see no ads, speak no ads”. I wouldn’t use this for most Web browsing activities and you still need to be careful that you run only one “pop-up blocker” at a time. I would rather that this can be used to filter advertising that is used for “fly-by-night” offers.

The e-mail protection does work with Windows Live Mail but, if you want to run it as an anti-spam solution for any e-mail client, you have to have it list your mail on a separate screen so you can tell which mail is which. This feature may be useless if you are running multiple other anti-spam measures such as a spam filter integrated in to your mail client or provided as part of your email service.

Desktop content filter

I do have a personal reservation about desktop-based “parental-control” programs because these programs only control the content that arrives at the computer that they run on. This may be OK for situations where the Internet access is primarily on the general-purpose computer that they run on. It doesn’t suit an increasingly-real environment where Internet access is being done on other terminals such as smartphones, multifunction Internet devices, games consoles, and Internet-enabled TVs. Here, I would prefer a “clean feed” that is provided as an option in the Internet service or the content-filtering software to be installed in a very fast router. The desktop filter can work well if a computer is taken to places like hotspots that don’t provide a filtered Internet service.

The content control is also limited to few categories such as the “usual suspects” (porn, gambling, drugs, violence, weapons, explicit language). There isn’t the ability to filter on “hatred” and “intolerance” sites which may be a real issue in today’s world, although the weapons and violence categories may encompass some of that material. I would like to see more granular filtering to suit different age groups and needs.

Nice to have

A feature that this program could have is management of interface to UPnP IGD routers. This could include identifying port-forward requests by applications and checking that these port-forward requests are destroyed when the application is stopped. This could include destroying port-forward requests when the application crashes or clearing all port-forward requests when the system starts so as to clean up port-forwarding “holes” left when a UPnP-enabled application or the system crashes. This is because I have noticed port-forward settings being left standing when an instant-messaging application, game or similar UPnP-enabled application crashes and the router’s UPnP port-forward list has settings from these prior sessions still open. This can provide various back door opportunities to exist for hackers and botnets to operate.

Macintosh users are looked after by Kaspersky through the “Kaspersky AntiVirus For Mac” program which provides virus protection for that platform. It doesn’t provide the full Internet security options that this program has to offer but there may be a desktop firewall built in to MacOS X which can protect against Internet hacks.

As far as the desktop content filter is concerned, I would like to see increased filtering options like an option to filter out “hatred” / “intolerance” sites; and “games and sports” for business needs. There should also be the ability to set up granular filtering options to suit different user needs.


This program may be a valid option for those of us who want to pay for “that bit more” out of our computer security software and want to go beyond the operating-system-standard desktop firewall and the free anti-virus programs like AVG and Avast.

Statement of benefit: I have been provided with the 3-computer 2-year subscription which is worth AUD$159.95 including GST (street price $84 including GST) as a complementary product in order for me to review it.

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Product Review – Pure Evoke Flow portable Internet radio (Frontier Internet Radio Platform)

Pure Evoke Flow This radio that I am reviewing is the top-end network-enabled model of Pure’s popular Evoke series of DAB digital portable radios. All of the models have different functionality but a very similar style, with an oval-shaped accent encompassing the speaker and control area. The lower-end units have a wood cabinet and a plastic front panel which is varied according to the model.


This particular unit has a gloss-black finish with a large yellow OEL bit-map display and knobs for the volume and tuning controls. Other functions are operated using touch buttons that are lit up in yellow where applicable. This is intended to make the set look more classy, especially with the “piano-black” finish.

OEL display on Pure Evoke Flow The OEL or “organic electroluminescent” display is based upon the displayed letters and segments needing the power to light up rather than the LCD display being dependent on a backlight to be easily visible. This is similar to what is used on my Nokia N85 phone reviewed in the blog and is very appropriate as a display method for devices that work on low power. I even refer to the OEL display as the “vacuum fluorescent display” for battery-operated devices because of the fact that the display yields the same brightness and contrast as the typical self-illuminating vacuum fluorescent display often used as a user-information display on VCRs, DVD players, home theatre receivers and similar equipment but doesn’t chew through the batteries to achieve that aim.

The Evoke Flow, like the rest of the Pure Evoke range of radios, is capable of operating as a two-piece stereo set when you purchase and use the optional matching external speaker. Similarly, this radio, like the rest of the Evoke range, can be used as a battery-powered portable radio when you buy a Pure rechargeable battery pack from the same retailer that you bought the set. These accessories haven’t come with my review sample, so I won’t be able to assess how it works with these accessories.


As well as its Internet-radio and network media player functionality, this set is also capable of receiving DAB+ digital radio and FM radio with RDS RadioText.

For connectivity, it also has a 3.5mm auxiliary input jack for playing music from an iPod or portable CD player and a 3.5mm line-out jack for use with external amplifiers or recording devices. There is also a 3.5mm headphone socket as well as the socket for the accessory stereo speaker. All these connections are located on the back of the set, in a similar manner to the Kogan and Revo Internet radios reviewed in this blog. I have always preferred these sets to have the headphone jack located on the front panel of the set, or at least on the side, to permit “walk-up” headphone use where you didn’t have to move the set to plug in a pair of headphones which are used on an ad-hoc basis. This is a practice I have often seen with most portable audio equipment I have seen and used through the 1970s and 1980s.

Pure do supply an iPod dock as an optional accessory for this radio but it doesn’t have a power input connector so the iPod can be run on external power while playing through the radio. Instead, I would use the Apple Universal Dock or an iPod dock with a USB, Apple Dock or DC socket so that I can connect an external power supply to the iPod or iPhone that is in the dock.

The set can connect to the home network and the Internet via a 802.11g WiFi network segment but this network can be secured to WEP, WPA-PSK or WPA2-Personal standards. This is the same for other Internet radios, which also means it can’t log in to a “corporate-standard” WPA(2)-Enterprise network or a wireless hotspot that uses Web-based authentication.

An improvement I would like to see on the setup when it comes to enrolling the set with a WiFi network would be to allow it to keep configuration details for multiple networks. This is more so because this radio is an easily-portable design and capable of working on batteries. thus could be taken between locations at a moment’s notice.

It can also stream audio from DLNA-compliant media servers like TwonkyMedia Manager or Windows Media Player (Windows Media Connect) or most NAS units.

The unit has the built-in Internet radio directory but benefits more if you associate it to the Pure Lounge portal. Here you benefit from facilities like persistent Internet radio presets and extra content. The Lounge service also provides background sound-effect loops like waves for situations where a sound-effect loop is needed. Such applications may include having the sound of waves to help you drift off to sleep or the sound of thunderstorms to help in getting a dog used to thunderclaps. This also includes a reference tone set representing the strings of a guitar for use when tuning your guitar.


When you use the Internet radio, you can browse a worldwide directory of all the stations registered with Pure’s Internet-radio directory or use a “form-based” search to narrow down the list. Here, when you touch the “Search” option, you see a form and select the attribute to filter the list by. This can be by “Genre”, “Country”, “Availability”, and “Bit Rate”. Then you press the Tuning knob to set the attribute’s value. After that, you touch the “Go” option to see your reduced selection. This is different to the Kogan and Revo radios where you went through a menu tree to select the Internet-radio station that you want.

Unlike the Kogan and Revo radios, there isn’t a row of preset buttons for allocating favourite stations. Instead, you select the “Favourite stations” which is marked with a heart symbol to go to your preset list and browse through the preset list and press the Tuning knob to play that station. When you listen to a station that you want to add to the list, you touch the “Add to Favourites” option to set it in your preset list.

The set can work as a DLNA music player but you can only play the content by using the set’s controls rather than over the network using software like TwonkyMedia Manager.

FM tuning is based on a “seek by default” method so that when you turn the knob, the radio finds the next strongest signal. The DAB function is based on selecting from a list of stations sorted by alphabetic order. There is a “trim station list” option for clearing up dead station entries, which is handy if you move the set between cities or the DAB multiplexes are being reorganised.

Sound and Useability

The set sounds more “soft and rich” compared to most small portable radios, including the Kogan and the Revo, but has a similar sound output level. Like the other Internet radios I have reviewed, there isn’t a tone control, whether as an easily accessible control or within the menus.

The OLED display is much more legible than the typical LCD display found on most Internet radios and is a bit too bright for night-time use. There is the option to dim the display or to have the display dark whenever the set is turned off. The clock display is large enough for easy reading across a room. Even if you dim the display, it is still legible, which can be a bonus if you have the set in your bedroom as a clock radio or have it in a hall or other room and still like the clock display to work as a “nightlight”.

Fit and finish

The set’s fit and finish represent a high-quality product that is enjoyable to use. The knobs even have a feel associated with you operating a piece of quality equipment. The main limitation with the black gloss finish is that it could harbour fingermarks too easily and you may have to wipe those off frequently.

The telescopic aerial that you need to use for FM or DAB reception is much different from what I have seen in use on most portable radios that I have used. Here, this set, like a National Panasonic RX-C52 “ghetto blaster” that I have had once,  has a dedicated screw for anchoring the aerial. This will definitely make it easier the user to buy and fit a replacement aerial if this aerial is damaged, as is common with a lot of portable radios that I have seen and used. Good marks to Pure for realising what often happens with many portable radios and making the aerial easy to replace on their Evoke radios.

Points of improvement

The Pure Evoke Flow isn’t a perfect portable digital / Internet radio and needs a few points of improvement for its product class. One would be for Pure to release a cheaper “junior model” in the “Evoke Flow” line that has a finish similar to the rest of the Evoke series and uses a two-line alphanumeric display rather than a bitmap display.

As far as connectivity is concerned, I would at least like to see the headphone socket located up front or on the side to allow “walk-up” headphone use. For battery use, there could be the possibility of the set working on any of the “regular battery sizes” i.e. AA, C or D through the use of an add-on battery module that takes these batteries, so that one can use these commonly-available “Duracell” or “Energizer” batteries with the radio.

The wireless-network connectivity could be improved through support for WPS “quick-setup” and / or the ability to work with multiple networks to suit its nature as a portable radio. The set could provide information that is necessary for enrolment to the “Lounge” portal on the display through a set-up option.


The set’s “piano-black” look will appeal to people who like a “classy look” for their Internet radio solution. This would typically encompass a lot of office users, especially professionals. It may also look the part with a home office or on a shelf in that classy kitchen. But it can definitely work very well as a “floater” portable Internet radio that can be taken around the house as required because of the light size and integrated handle. The fact that the handle doubles as a snooze bar may make the set appeal as a clock radio, although you have to descend through menus to set or enable the alarm clock, sleep timer or countdown timer.

The set’s display would be suitable for people with limited eyesight and the fact that you use knobs to adjust the volume and select stations may make the set appeal to mature and older users who are more comfortable with using knobs to select stations or adjust the sound.

The main limitation with this set is that it is significently expensive, usually around AUD$400-600 depending on the retailer.

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Product Review – Kogan Wi-Fi Internet Table Radio with iPod Dock (Frontier Internet Radio Platform)


Kogan Internet radio

Kogan is an Australia company who are selling good-quality value-priced consumer electronics like LCD TVs in a manner that is considered common in the USA but rare in Australia. It is to sell the goods under their own brand through what used to be known as mail-order. You can buy equipment like this Internet table radio by visiting their Website or calling 1300 304 292.

The set, which is sold direct for $169 excluding delivery but including Australian GST, looks like a mantel radio made during the late 70s just before that style of radio went out of fashion and has a generous-sized front-facing speaker behind a mesh grille. An iPod or a USB memory stick can be connected to sockets installed on the top of the set.

The set is powered from the mains through a small AC adaptor but the adaptor that came with the review sample had something that can be annoying if you were to properly switch it on or off at the wall, because it sticks upwards.


The set has an iPod dock which can work with most of the Apple iPod range; and a USB port for connecting USB memory keys, MP3 players and other devices that present themselves as USB Mass-Storage Devices. This port may be better placed on the front or back of the radio so as to avoid dust, crumbs and other nasties falling in to the set and causing unreliable operation with USB devices.

It also has a 3.5mm jack for connecting up another MP3 player, Discman or similar device to play through the built-in speaker; and has a 3.5mm headphone jack which can also be used to play the set through a pair of better-sounding active speakers.


When you unpack the set, you don’t get the instruction manual as part of the packaging. Instead, you have to go to the support section of Kogan’s web site to download the manual as a PDF file.Kogan Internet radio - close-up

There are some issues that affect the way you integrate the radio to the Wi-Fi home network. One is that there needs to be a clear indication for “enter” to confirm the WPA-PSK key and another clear indication for “backspace delete” of erroneous characters.

As well, you have to make sure that your router’s wireless-network security is working in a “pure” WEP or WPA-PSK mode rather than a “compatibility mode” that may be common on some routers made when WPA just started to come in as a Wi-Fi link-level security option.

Once the radio is on the home network, everything is effectively “plain sailing”. The unit can be set up to get the time from the Internet, but you have to determine the time zone yourself by going to the Main Menu – System Settings – Clock Settings option. You will also have to change the time zone by an hour every time we switch from standard time to daylight-saving time. For example, in Sydney and Melbourne, you would have to set the Time Zone to +10 during Standard Time and to +11 during Summer Time. This may be rectified in a future firmware update for this set.

As far as the DAB (digital radio) operation goes, there isn’t a “clean-up and scan” routine available. Typically you have to do the “full scan” routine which adds new stations to the multiplex roster. This was annoying because the review sample, like the Revo iBlik RS clock radio reviewed in a separate review, had come down from Sydney and had references to the Sydney DAB multiplexes and stations. It can also be a headache for those of us who move between towns, or if there is a situation where the DAB multiplexes are being re-organised.


The menus on the set are mainly navigated through the use of the tuning control which you turn to select the option and press to confirm the selection. There is a “Back” button to go back through the menus if you need to do so. The volume is adjusted with a smaller knob rather than “up-down” buttons. You change between FM, DAB, Internet Radio, Media Player, USB, iPod and Aux modes by pressing a MODE button. This control arrangement  makes the set appeal to be easier and comfortable for older people to use and makes you think of it as a proper radio.

Access to Internet radio stations is through an integrated directory that is regularly updated. You can select stations by “home area”, “country” or genre. I did a test to find Heart 106.2 London, a radio station that I often listen to over the Internet. Here, I went to “all stations”, then “country”, then “Europe”, then “United Kingdom” to filter for UK radio stations. After that, I went to all stations and browsed the list of UK stations to find “Heart London”.

There are five preset buttons which you can assign to a station in each of the radio modes. This means you have 5 FM stations, 5 DAB stations and 5 Internet radio stations held as “one-touch” presets You associate the button with the currently-playing station in the same manner as most car radios that are currently in use i.e.: hold the button for around 10 seconds until the display shows that the station is with the preset.

The radio also works well as a DLNA network audio player with the ability to honour the UPnP AV Media Server’s media hierarchy. It even worked well with playing music hosted on my computer by allowing a smooth playout experience. One main problem was that the transport keys such as the play-pause button didn’t work for the network media stream.

The radio does work well as an iPod speaker dock and the function keys worked properly when navigating the iPod’s content. I also attempted to adjust the volume from the iPod, but the sound came through at the same level, thus requiring you to use the radio’s volume control to adjust the sound.

Sound quality

The sound was something typical of either a classic mantel radio or one of those mono radio-cassette recorders made during the 1970s. There isn’t any way to adjust the tone on the set, whether through the menus or a separate control. There is still some “punchiness” in the sound but not the full bass expected by today’s young generation. A difficult-to-reproduce piece like the BBC brass-band rendition of “God Save The Queen” played at the end of the day (UK time) on Radio 4 may sound “difficult” at times. For talk-radio broadcasts, the sound is clear and intelligible whether turned up loud or at a modest listening level.

The sound volume is relatively loud, thus allowing the set to fill a room with its sound and can compete with a noisy appliance operated nearby. I even ran our noisy rangehood fan while the set was playing and it could easily compete with that. This means that it could work well at “belting out the tunes” in a takeaway-food shop, café or similar establishment.

Fit and finish

I have observed that this unit has avoided fingermark-attractive “gloss” finishes but this may be considered as a set that is dull and boring. But this also has been a bonus with a review unit that has “done the rounds” and been handled by many reviewers. This would be a bonus for radios that are likely to be handled by many users or spend their working life in a kitchen.

When I bought my own one of these sets, I had it working as a “utility radio” for the household and at times had seen it used in a workshop and outdoors while there was carpentry work going on. This hasn’t had any impact on the set’s finish or operation.

Points of improvement and product-class development

Connectivity improvements

The 3.5mm headphone jack could be positioned up front so as to allow “walk-up” headphone use and could be set to override a 3.5mm external-output jack on the back as well as the built-in speaker. The role of this rear-mounted jack could be determined by a menu option as a “line-out” jack independent of the volume control and headphone jack or an “external speaker” jack that is dependent on the volume control that can be set to either run with or override the internal speaker. This would allow Kogan to supply a “right-channel” active speaker as an accessory thus causing the radio to become a 2-piece stereo radio.

The manufacturers could relocate the USB port to the front of the set thus removing the risk of problems associated with dust and foreign objects falling in to the top-mounted USB socket.

Improved display

The display could be improved as far as legibility goes. It could be a high-contrast LCD with a strong LED-array backlight. Some other reviewers wanted to see a variable backlight display, which could make the set fit for use in a bedroom. This would be best executed with a backlight setting for standby use and a setting for whenever the set is in operation.

Possibility of tone control

There could be the possibility of some form of tone control, not just as a “bass-boost” option. This could be in the form of the classic “tone” control knob used on older sets which provided a bass-rich sound at the low setting and a bright treble-rich sound at the high setting.

WiFi connectivity improvements

Some users may take one of these sets between multiple locations like home and work or home and a friend’s house or holiday home; as I have often seen with some clock radios and portable radios. An improvement that I would like to see would be to allow the user to have up to eight “network profiles” stored in the radio, like what happens with computers and mobile phones. There could be an SSID and WEP/WPA passphrase associated with each of the profiles so the set doesn’t have to be reconfigured when it is taken between regular locations.

Similarly the set could support WPS “quick-connect” options so as to avoid messing with “pick-and-choose” WPA passphrase entry.

Conclusion and Best Placing

This set would be best suited as a radio you may use in a small office, household kitchen, small shop or waiting room at a doctor’s or lawyer’s office. It is also a set worth considering for the workshop or garage even though it is as loud is most typical clock radios because of the fact its finish isn’t susceptible to these working environments. It wouldn’t be appropriate in the bedroom as a replacement for that old clock radio because the set would be too big for a bedside table, the display is too bright even when switched off and the alarm-clock functionality isn’t easily accessible.

I also applaud Kogan for providing a tabletop Internet radio that is positioned at a price that most people can afford and this could be a way for them to cut in to the premium table radio scene. They could go further with a unit that has two speakers, a portable DAB+/Internet radio that can run on batteries or AC, or a tuner that can pick up FM, DAB+ and Internet radio; with all these sets being capable of playing audio from DLNA Home Media Networks.

But I would still recommend the Kogan Wi-Fi Digital Radio with iPod Dock as a value-priced entry-level DAB/Internet radio for situations such as your first Internet radio or when giving someone an Internet radio as a gift. It may also be a good excuse to ditch that tired old radio in the kitchen or office for something that offers a lot more.

Purchase online:
Kogan Web site

I have had this set on loan for a week courtesy of Kogan and their public-relations company, Profession Public Relations. As well, Professional Public Relations have offered the set for sale to me at a reduced price as per their standard practice with media and I had taken up this offer.

The review has been updated with further notes from my experience with this set and may help with your purchasing decisions.

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Product Review – Revo iBlik RadioStation Internet clock radio (Frontier Internet Radio Platform)

Revo iBlik RS 1 I am reviewing the Revo iBlik RadioStation Internet clock radio which can work as a speaker dock for the iPod. As well Marks & Spencers, the British department store commonly known as “Marks & Sparks”, sell the same radio under their private label but without DAB digital radio as the M&S Internet Radio with iPod Dock.


This radio looks like one of the classic clock radios sold through the 1970s and 1980s but, instead of being a flat box with the faux wood-grain finish, it has a trapezoid look that is finished in dark charcoal grey. The top of the radio has a random-styled speaker grille and a removeable panel where you dock an Apple iPod or iPhone, and the right had side of the top surface has all of the radio’s control buttons. The front of the radio has a darker middle stripe with the LCD display. The set uses a telescopic aerial (antenna) rather than the ordinary “pigtail” aerial wire that is common with clock radios for FM and DAB operation. The only limitation, which is common with most portable radios, is that you can’t replace a broken telescopic aerial yourself. The Wi-Fi aerial is totally integrated in to the set.

2009-11-07 001 When the unit is turned off, the display is just bright enough to be a nightlight, which makes it suitable for bedroom use. The display becomes significantly bright when the set is in operation, but there could be improvements in the contrast issue. Revo could have improved the display by using a fully-bitmapped display which can allow for a full-height time display which would be more appropriate for this class of radio than a two-line date and time display.

The set comes with a slim remote control which can be a bonus if you need to operate it from the other side of the room. The only problem with this was that you had to be relatively close to the set to operate the remote control. This may be a problem with the review sample that had “done the rounds” and the remote control’s battery was nearly exhausted and had been transported with the battery in place.


The set has a 3.5nn line input jack (referred to as an mPort jack) for use with portable CD players and the like as well as a pair of RCA line-out connectors on the back for use when connecting to an external sound system or a recording device.This connection is a boon to small businesses who may want to connect the radio to a music-on-hold setup or public-address system if they want to play DAB, Internet radio or music held on a computer over the network through these devices.


This set is set up in a manner similar to other Frontier-based radios like the Kogan reviewed elsewhere in the blog. <Hyperlink to Kogan review> There is still that niggle with the confusing arrow and “return” symbol when you enter your wireless network’s passphrase. As well, you need to make sure your router isn’t using a WEP-WPA compatibility mode because the set may not connect to the wireless network.

The radio has the option of obtaining the time from the Internet or the local DAB multiplex so it sets itself to the correct time. If you set it to refer to the Internet, you then determine your local time zone. It also has a dedicated “DST” option which you turn on when the clocks go forward for Daylight-Saving time and turn off when the clocks go back for regular time. This is unlike the Kogan where you have to advance the time zone by an hour when the clocks go forward.

The DAB function doesn’t have a “clean-up and scan” option for situations where your set may be moved between locations or if the local DAB multiplexes are re-arranged. This was more of a problem with this review sample which had been taken between Sydney and Melbourne.


Revo iBlik RadioStation - control panel You navigate the menus using four “arrow keys” and a “select” button in the centre of those keys. They are also used to tune the radio amongst the FM, DAB or Internet stations. There is a “mode” button to change between the different sources such as the Internet radio, DLNA music player, DAB radio, FM radio, iPod or aux inputs.

The set can store 10 preset stations in each of the FM, DAB or Internet-radio “bands”, which can be an asset if you dabble in many of the Internet-radio stations. This radio also works as a DLNA media player but can only support control from the set’s control panel or remote control.

Suitability for the bedside table

To set the alarm clock, you press the ALARM key. Here you have room for four different alarm times that can be set to apply once only, every day, Monday-Friday or Saturday-Sunday. This could be useful for setting an earlier wakeup time for the work week and a later time for the weekend where you can afford to have that sleep-in; and you can even have a different wake time for him and her on both the work week and the weekend.

You can set the unit to wake you to the buzzer; a particular station on either FM, DAB or Internet radio; or music held on an attached iPod at a chosen volume. What you set the radio to wake you to can be different for each alarm event, so you can factor in different radio programs that are broadcasting on different times. This definitely offers more than the typical clock radio that most of us use where you have up to two different events and you can wake either to the buzzer or the last-tuned radio station.

When you set the alarm, you have to make sure you save the changes by highlighting the “Save” option and pressing SELECT. This is also true if you want to override the alarm clock by turning it off. The ability to set the alarm clock to come on to a nominated radio program allows you to sleep to music from your iPod, DLNA network media server or a different radio station while you wake to your favourite radio program.

The all-important snooze bar is located at the front edge of the control buttons and is bracketed by two other buttons which are radio presets or “previous-next” buttons when the set works as a media player or with an iPod. This same button can be used to set up the sleep timer. Here, you press this button repeatedly to determine how long the radio can play before switching itself off, then press the “select” button to engage the sleep timer whereupon the radio will turn itself off after the nominated time.

Sound quality

The sound quality is similar to what you would expect for a typical 1980s-issue clock radio. This is because it uses the same speaker size as these units and the speaker is positioned to come out the top of the set in the same manner.

Fit and finish

The finish is a “satin-style” plastic finish that is similar to most current-issue clock radios and portable radios. This hasn’t harboured unnecessary fingermarks and the buttons are quick and responsive. It does then have the look and feel of a good-quality clock radio.

Points of Improvement

For this class of radio, the main point of improvement would be a larger bitmapped display with an EL backlight or a larger bitmapped OEL display which can show the time in large figures which makes it suitable for viewing from a distance. Other than that, the radio suits its best-placing very well, as a clock radio for the bedroom.

There could be an option to have the alarm set for particular days of the week, such as Monday, Saturday or Sunday; as well as Monday-Friday and Saturday-Sunday so you can cater for situations where you may have to factor in particular shifts that occur on particular days.

Conclusion and Best Placing

This is an Internet radio / iPod dock / network music player that I would recommend for use in the bedroom as a highly-flexible alternative to that old clock radio. This is more so if you want to wake up to more than regular FM and AM radio or need something that provides a highly-flexible alarm clock. It can also be used in the office, kitchen, shop or waiting room as a radio or background-music device, and can become a conversation piece in itself because of its shape. 

If you are after this radio in Australia, from my experience, I have found it for sale at the electrical department of the David Jones department stores at Westfield Shoppingtown Doncaster. You may also find it available in other premium department stores like Marks & Spencers.

I have had this set on loan for a week courtesy of Bush Australia. As well, Bush Australia have offered the set for sale to me at a reduced price as per their standard practice with media.

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