“ It's an interactive digital radio, which picks up wireless digital radio signals (both audio and visual), and sends them direct to your PC. Which means you get digital quality music (from the likes of Radio One and Ministry of Sound), multimedia games and entertainment (including Cartoon Networks), one-click recording to MP3 and MP2, and because it uses wireless signals, you don't need an internet connection to use it. „
I recently purchased the Psion Wavefinder for just short of £40.00 (r.r.p of around £100) via promotional codes posted in the alt.radio.digital newsgroup. What is the Psion Wavefinder? Basically the Wavefinder is a digital radio tuner that can be used on your PC. In order to be able to use the Wavefinder you will require a moderately fast computer and also a free USB port. You have the ability to listen to digital crystal clear quality radio broadcasts (at usually 128kbps or 192kbps) and also have the ability to record the radio broadcasts in both MP3 and MP2 format. Before purchasing the Wavefinder I recommend a visit to the official wavefinder site at www.wavefinder.co.uk and use the Postcode checker to see if any Digital Boradcasts are actually available in your area. My views... Initially I had various problems installing the Wavefinder on Windows 2000 professional. I had various conflicts and this was resolved by using a different USB port. After installing the drivers e.t.c which was relatively straightforward via the provided CD I begun listening to the crisp and clear quality that Digital Radio has to offer. I enjoy RnB, HipHop and UK Garage music and enjoy the Rsdio 1 shows dedicated to these genres of music. The only problem is the time at which these shows are on. Either they are very late or timed when I am usually out thus with the use of a program called Dabbar (www.dabbar.co.uk) I am able to set timers to record these shows when I am out. This for me makes the Wavefinder worth every penny as I never need to miss another program as I have it recorded in MP3 format on my hard disk when I come back. As mentioned before at £40.00 this is worth it (even for the nice various flashing lights on the Wavefinder itself ;-) ) but for the r.r.p of £100 I would think twice as it is not essential that I record the shows off the radio.
James Cridland's entry is so exhaustive that I have little to add! I have been trying to get one of these beasts to work for 2 weeks now, my next step in getting "Cyclops" to work is to get an outside aerial installed (or should that be outstalled?) A few points, though. Although you can record direct from the application in, as you say, MP2 pr MP3, there is no reason why you shouldn't use whatever recorder you normally use and so end up with an editable .WAV file. Both MP2 and MP3 are encoded at 192kbps which, in MP3 terms, makes them a bit big - represents a compression ratio of about 7:1. Regarding the software, there are 2 alternative versions available now, DAB BAR and WAVELIGHT (or WAVELITE) the former being free the latter £25.00 to register. Both get approval by users and are preferred to the supplied stuff which quite apart from anything else, takes up far too much room. If you go to www.wavefinder.com and look at the chat room, all sorts of hints are available. As I say, I have been doing battle with the beast for 2 weeks but despite the maps published by BBC and Psion which assure me I am in a strong signal area, I am not. I have had it working for a short time first thing in the morning and from this have discovered the superiority of the sound. FM was vaunted as the great system for noise-free sound when it first came out - wrong. Just as analogue TV suffers from co-channel interference in certain weather conditions, so does FM radio. Added to that are the clicks and buzzes picked up on the mains from domestic stuff switching in and out (maybe curable by using a mains surge protector), and the result can be pretty awful. But my experience in installing the hardware and software is pretty much the same as James's, it took a few attempts but in the end, the system knows it's there and does its level best to get a signal. It is odd having normal FM and DAB on at the same time, DAB lags
behind - so don't set your watch by the DAB time signal! Regading price, PCWorld have been selling them at £100 and had a special offer at half that a couple of weeks back. Dig around using Yellow Pages and you might find a few are still available, but Psion don't make them any more (they were made in Austria). eBay usually has a few on offer (search for "Psion Wavefinder)" and they seem to go for about £60-£70 plus carriage each.
Love music? Love radio? You'll love the Wavefinder, then. Generally, when I do opinions for dooyoo, I don't go through what the product does. I kind of feel that you probably don't want 400 reviews, all with "This product does this" stuff in them, and little review. This time, though, I'll give you the low-down on the product first, because it's a little complicated to explain. WHAT'S DIGITAL RADIO? A new way of broadcasting radio stations. Totally incompatible with existing radio. If your favourite station's on FM or MW, it MIGHT be on digital radio too, but it might not. You'll need to check. It uses different frequencies, and different equipment. A digital radio can't pick up FM or AM. But it's clearer sound, you can cram loads more channels in, and it comes with other data features too. WHAT'S WAVEFINDER? Well, you can either spend around £400 for a digital radio (which plugs into your hifi) or around £80 on the web for a Wavefinder. The Wavefinder is a digital radio aerial, basically, and your computer does the difficult job of decoding the signals and turning them into music, or data, or speech. Benefits of using a computer are pretty obvious: you can record stuff, use the data properly, and click through to relevant internet sites. BUT I'VE GOT A DIGITAL RADIO Oh, no you haven't. YES I HAVE. IT SAYS "DIGITAL" ON IT. Oh, no you haven't. A digital radio has a logo marked "DAB" on it. BUT... BUT... Go into an electrical retailer and they'll probably try to flog you a £20 'digital radio' - i.e. a normal, analogue, radio with a digital display (showing numbers instead of a radio dial). That is not a digital radio capable of picking up digital radio stations. OH. RIGHT. CONFUSING ALL THIS, ISN'T IT? Yes. So, back with me? Good. The picture at the top of thi
s review shows the Wavefinder. It plugs into your USB port, and also has a small power adaptor, which you need to find a spare mains socket for. It also comes with some software on a CD. INSTALLATION Now, I found installation of this product an absolute minefield. First, you plug the thing in. Then you tell Windows (2000 in my case) what this thing is that you've just plugged in. Then you install the software. Then you register as a Wavefinder user. Then it reboots. Then it takes a look around to see what stations it can pick up. Then it runs the software. In my case, it worked, then crashed, then refused to do anything. The workaround was to uninstall everything and try again, but it took about an hour and irritated me beyond measure. Then, like the good boy I am, I went direct to the Wavefinder site to see if there were any updates to the software. Mine came with v1.2; you can upgrade to v1.4 on the website as well as download some more up-to-date station logos. You can't download the upgrade unless you've already got the older software installed - which is a shame, because otherwise I'd have burnt a CD of the new installation stuff and not worried about downloading out of date software to my system. And then I wondered why everything was so crackly. So I checked the website, checked the newsgroups... and discovered that my soundcard, an old ISA Soundblaster 16, wasn't up to the job. A new soundcard later, it sounds just excellent. THE SOFTWARE I'm in London, so I now have access to 35 different radio stations, with the promise of about 10 more coming on later this year. The software to listen to these stations, though, is awful. - It uses java Now, I've nothing against Java, but the advantages of Java - platform independence - don't oughtweigh the fact that it's comparatively slow and cumbersome to run on your PC. My PC is pretty quick, but this software is slow, slow
, slow. A bit of well-compiled x86 code would have been a far better idea than Java. - It's badly laid-out Okay, it looks pretty, but it's difficult to use. In order to listen to a radio station - like Capital FM - you need to know which multiplex it's on. A multiplex is the individual transmitter that does about ten different radio stations. Capital's on the CE Digital multiplex - but why should it matter? Why can't I just choose "Capital" instead of scrolling around a little 'map' of stations? - It's slow to use Because you need to scroll around a map to look for an icon of a radio station, it's slow and unintuitive. A "Start menu" type affair would help things here, rather than a new user interface. - It crashes now and then Use your PC for something energetic, and the Wavefinder software can't really cope. Sometimes it'll crash, with the result that you need to reboot if you want to use it again. NICE FEATURES, THOUGH - Not just radio, you get text alongside the station, showing you what's playing or what's coming up soon - or latest headlines or website addresses. - Extra services, only available on a Wavefinder, include a news and sport service from the BBC and an equivalent service from ITN. The neat thing is, you don't need an internet connection to use them. - You can instantly hit "record" if you hear a song you like - it records either in MP3 format, or MP2 (which is the format DAB uses). Neat trick. I like that, and the sound quality's excellent. - And now, the new version (v1.4) of the software has a timer, so you can record stuff unattended, if you trust that the software will still be up and running by the time the program is on. Which is good. BUT THERE'S LOTS OF OTHER SOFTWARE Go hunting for DABBar - you'll find it's free, and uses around half the processor power and is much easier to use
. It doesn't do the data stuff, but it does everything else. It also allows you to stream the audio from the Wavefinder online, which is rather nice. Go hunting for Wavelite - you'll find it uses even less processor cycles. It's paid-for software, but the timer is better than DABBar's. There are even other bits of software available. This is good news. MY VERDICT The (supplied) software's nasty. The service is fab. The extra choice of stations are great (but your mileage may vary). The recording is useful. The streaming (available with the free DABBar software) is fab if you've a home network. It means that you can listen to DAB Digital Radio anywhere in the house, which is pretty cool. Go get one.