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Published on April 30th, 2011 | by Greg

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Livio Radio Pandora: A Bottomless Well of Great Music

When you want to lis­ten to mu­sic at home, there are a pletho­ra of ways. Sure, you can dock your iPod or iPhone, and you can al­so sim­ply use a com­put­er. If you have a home en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem, that may be your tick­et- even the ma­jor con­soles can stream mu­sic now, and some TVs fea­ture apps that can be good enough. But some lo­ca­tions are a lit­tle tougher to man­age- kitchens, li­braries to name just two- and you might not want to car­ry your iPod or MP3 play­er with you from room to room. That’s where a small book­shelf sys­tem comes in, like the Liv­io Ra­dios.

They of­fer a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent mod­els, in­clud­ing one aimed at NPR fans, but to­day’s ver­sion is the Pan­do­ra Edi­tion. In many ways, it’s sim­i­lar to a unit we re­viewed over the hol­i­days and has many sim­i­lar ben­e­fits and trade-offs. For starters, if you don’t al­ready use Pan­do­ra, you should. It’s free, for the most part, and of­fers ev­ery­thing imag­in­able. But most of all, it works- learn­ing your tastes in mu­sic over time and sug­gest­ing new and in­ter­est­ing stuff you’ll like. Un­like some sys­tems, this one is pret­ty much on­ly good for Pan­do­ra- oth­er ser­vices are left in the wind (ex­cept for Re­ci­va, which of­fers stream­ing ra­dio). You can’t stream mu­sic from a com­put­er, ei­ther. For many peo­ple, these lim­i­ta­tions won’t mat­ter, but for those with large mu­sic col­lec­tions al­ready shared on a lo­cal net­work, it might be bet­ter to look to a sys­tem like the Squeeze­box or Sonos.

The Liv­io is easy to set­up, as long as your wire­less net­work name and pass­word aren’t too dif­fi­cult to en­ter with­out a key­board. Both wired and wire­less con­nec­tiv­i­ty is built-in. The screen isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly great, and there is no touch­screen, nor any iPod dock. But there is a head­phone jack for aux­il­iary in­put, and the unit looks and feels great- oth­ers can feel a bit cheap, but the Liv­io is sol­id and classy. This mod­el was built for Pan­do­ra, and it shows, with easy thumbs up and thumbs down ac­cess on the base as well as the re­mote. And the re­mote is well-de­signed, a nice change from sim­i­lar ones that can feel clunky.

Au­dio is not great, how­ev­er. The sin­gle mono speak­er can’t do won­ders, but for both vol­ume and clar­i­ty, you’d be bet­ter off with even a cheap pair of ex­ter­nal speak­ers (which are easy to con­nect). Bass is light, and sounds can get lost pret­ty eas­i­ly, though we didn’t hear much dis­tor­tion. Of course, most streams are fair­ly low bi­trate any­way.

Over­all, the Liv­io is cute, avail­able in ei­ther black or sil­ver, and of­fers a de­cent pack­age. A few miss­ing fea­tures set it back a bit from the pack though, and the price is close enough to make this unit feel a lit­tle over­priced. With an MSRP of $200, we were able to find it for around $130 or so on­line.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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