Portable Internet Radio Explained

by Marissa Robert Google

    Internet radio streams music onto your computer or portable listening device so you can listen to it anywhere. You can access to news, sports, music or even comedy any time of the day or night, every day of the week. Mobile Internet radio options allow you to use the data signals from cell towers to stream music on-the-go, while a wireless network or wired LAN lets you access it at home. You have Internet radio options available on your desktop computer, tablets, tabletop devices or your smartphone.

    Android Phones and Tablets

    Android phones -- and some tablets -- are designed to access cell towers, making them easy to use anywhere. They also access Wi-Fi networks so you do not have to rely solely on your carrier's data plan, which may have a cap. Android devices have access to many Internet radio apps, such as Pandora, Slacker Radio, SiriusXM and iHeartRadio. Android devices use a multi-cable system to provide data, power, audio and video connections. Frequently these cables are not universal from one device to another, particularly power and data cables. While listening to audio with your Android device generally uses universal connections and cables, providing power to your Android devices frequently requires separate cable that is different from one Android device to another. With most Android devices the power cable and data cable are the same cable, but some units still use separate data and power cables. You can listen to these devices using Bluetooth headphones or speakers or the standard wired headphone AUX jack, as well as the speakers on the device itself.

    IPhones, IPods and IPads

    Apple products also access Internet radio through applications. Some examples of available services through your iPod Touch include Last.fm, Pandora, Stitcher Radio and AOL Radio. If you have a mobile account for your Apple device, you can listen to these applications over a Wi-Fi network or a cell network. These devices have options that may allow you to use wired or Bluetooth headphones and some of them can be plugged into speaker systems to allow you to listen in the car or at home without draining the battery.

    Table-Top Internet Radios

    Some specific table-top devices include the SiriusXM Internet Radio, the LogiTech Squeezebox Internet Radio and the Q2 WiFi Internet Radio, all available through RadioShack. While SiriusXM requires you to have a subscription, the other table-top Internet radios allow you to access many other radio services over WiFi, like Pandora, iHeartRadio and Spotify. These devices must have access to a WiFi signal to stream content though; they do not have data cards to access cell towers.

    Desktop and Laptop Internet Radio

    Whether you use a WiFi connection or a USB wireless card for a cell carrier, you can also stream music, sports and comedy from Internet radio through your computer. Pandora and Spotify both have applications you can install on your Mac or Windows laptop while Pandora, iHeartRadio and Last.fm have Web browser versions that work on any operating system.

    Tips for Choosing the Right Internet Radio Option

    Consider whether you can want to use your device in a small area over only Wi-Fi, or if you want to be able to take it with you in the car or carry it while you jog, which requires cell carrier data access. Some options allow you to use them as clock radios, part of your home stereo system or as a personal music player. Some allow you to incorporate all of those options. The player you should choose also depends on which Internet radio services you would like to be able to access through your device. Considering all of these options helps you decide which device will work best for your situation.

    About the Author

    Marissa Robert graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English language and literature. She has extensive experience writing marketing campaigns and business handbooks and manuals, as well as doing freelance writing, proofreading and editing. While living in France she translated manuscripts into English. She has published articles on various websites and also periodically maintains two blogs.

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