OXX Classic 600 Internet Radio: portable web tunes.

The OXX Digital Classic 600 Internet Radio takes the hard work out of enjoying internet radio and frees you from only being able listen in front of your PC. Essentially the Classic 600 is a Reciva Internet radio packaged in a stylish box that looks and operates more like a radio than a piece of technology.

The front panel is dominated by a single 4in (supposedly) full range speaker grill and two knobs one to control volume and the other to select stations. Next to the speaker is a four-line LCD display and five favourite preset buttons a power switch and three buttons labelled back browse and reply to control the menus. The back of the unit has an FM antenna socket for a wired internet connection stereo headphone socket and auxiliary input jack. Classic 600 radios are available in a range of colours including a stylish piano black (which unfortunately also highlights any fingerprints and dust) silver gold and funky shades of blue and red.

Setting up the Classic 600 is a simple matter of plugging the unit into the power and connecting a network cable or setting up the wireless networking. The unit supports most current wireless protocols and will connect to a secured wireless network using either WEP or WPA. Since there is no keyboard you need to cycle through a menu of letters and symbols to enter the wireless network key. This is tedious but thankfully only needs to be done once.

Once connected the Classic 600 “phones home” to the Reciva portal to access lists of stations. The portal allows you to browse for stations by country and genre making it a simple task to find music you enjoy.  Spinning the “tuning” knob allows you to navigate through the menus and pressing the knob moves up to the next menu level. For example if you want to listen to The Breeze in Auckland you would choose browse by region select Oceania select New Zealand and choose The Breeze from the list of available New Zealand stations. If you are more adventurous you can also select stations by genre allowing you to enjoy stations you might otherwise not know about.

The Reciva portal is claimed to be regularly updated by the user community and has one of the most current lists of internet radio stations on the web. You would want to hope so because this is the only portal that the Classic 600 can use. There is no option for submitting station URLs or uploading lists of stations directly to the unit.

Sound quality is very much dependent upon the bitrate of the internet broadcasts and network traffic. On our business grade internet connection using a wired connection stations broadcasting at 128Kb/s often sounded better than FM radio. As expected low bitrate stations sounded fairly bad with lots of gurgle and compression artefacts. Overall sound quality is as good but no better than a PC with a reasonable sound card.

When using a wireless connection we found performance to be patchy with the unit frequently dropping out and needing to reload the buffer.

The Classic 600 also has a built in FM tuner and can stream audio from network shares Windows Media and Universal PnP servers on your network. Navigation using the menus is straight forward and unlike other streaming devices does not require a monitor or television to operate.

At nearly $300 the Classic 600 is an expensive way of listening to internet radio particularly if you already have a PC speakers and know how to use Google. The advantages are that the Classic 600 is really easy to use and provided the wireless works well in your situation relatively portable.

Our main concerns are that the unit is dependent solely upon the Reciva portal and if the portal goes down ceases operation or decides to charge excessive subscription fees you will be stuck with an overpriced FM radio and media streaming device.