- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

A new product promises to allow you to shift time, recording a radio program for later playback. At other times, you can use it to just listen to what’s on the air, using your computer.

The product is the $69.99 radioShark from Griffin Technology.

It’s good but not totally great and it might be the solution for those who want to use their computer to save radio shows for another time.

Ergonomically, the device, which looks like a shark fin and has cool blue lighting that turns on when connected to a computer. The cable is long enough to allow you to position the radio for good reception. Its built-in antenna receives AM and FM bands.

The software provided with the radioShark works on both Macintosh and Windows-based computers. I tested the device with an IMac G5.

Setup and installation is easy: Install the software, start the radioShark control program, and plug the device into a USB port. The radio powers up and you are listening to whatever appeals to you.

I’ve had better success with FM stations than AM — there’s a high-pitched whine that seems to accompany the AM broadcasts. The software provides a sound equalizer that can minimize some of this.

FM reception and sound is much better, although it’s easy to suspect the product is not an FM stereo receiver. The sound seems to be monaural, and there’s no indicator on the software display to denote stereo broadcasts. But taking a recorded program and running the stream through Apple Computer’s ITunes software revealed it was a stereo track.

However, the radioShark works as advertised. It was easy to set up, I programmed in a specific broadcast, and it recorded without a hitch. I could have saved the program as a file automatically usable by ITunes, but importing it wasn’t difficult.

You can do something neat with the radioShark: a “time-shifting” feature will let you “rewind” live radio, or pause a program up to 30 minutes’ worth if you have enough hard disk space. That’s not bad, though there’s a lot more that is lacking in the radioShark.

I’d love an easier way to program the software to select shows. Though it works somewhat like a digital video recorder, the radioShark, unlike video devices from TiVo or Replay TV, lacks an onscreen programming guide.

There’s a port on the radio that is not at all explained in the documentation. Is it for an external antenna or for stereo headphones? I’d like an easy way to edit recorded programs. It seems you would need an external software program to do this, and it would also be nice to have a way to tune the device using a keyboard and the mouse. You can record while the system is muted, but don’t look to the instructions to tell you that.

In short, I believe the folks at Griffin Technology, a firm that has produced some very nice products, might want to refine the radioShark. I have every confidence that they can build an even better mousetrap, or radio program trap to be more precise.

Details can be found at www.griffintechnology.com. Despite my reservations, it’s still worth investigating.

In doing research for this column, I came across a service that seems to combine over-the-air recording with finding radio shows on the Internet. I hope to check out www.radiotime.com, and if that service improves on the radioShark, you’ll read about it here.

E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit www.kellner.us.

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