The Tangent Quattro is another venture into the internet radio and audio streaming market, but adopts a rather different design to most rivals by closely resembling the retro-style radios of yesteryear.
It’s actually available in a range of eight different colour schemes, which vary from more contemporary gloss white to walnut and oak. The controls of the device comprise two large dials for volume and tuning and an array of control buttons that handle presets, menus and configuration.
The radio is solidly built and relatively light for its size, but is clearly aimed at semi-permanent placement on a table, and features a clock and alarm should you want to put it by the bed. As well as an FM radio you’ll find access to a massive range of Internet radio stations along with the ability to stream content across a wireless network.
Setup is fairly straightforward: when you fire the device up for the first time it’ll search for local wireless networks and help you connect and enter a security key if you need one. At this point you’ll have access to Internet radio. We found over 11,000 stations available from a wide range of countries around the world, and you can narrow this down – by selecting a location and then genre – to a more manageable level. Internet radio stations can be saved as presets, and you’ll also find access to podcasts and ‘on demand’ broadcasting.
Audio is pumped out through a single 5W full range speaker mounted atop the device, and though this doesn’t sound like much, we were pretty impressed by the sound on offer most of the time.
While the Tangent Quattro certainly offers a massive range of content, it isn’t without its faults, which in some cases threaten to undermine an otherwise impressive product.
Firstly, the layout of the controls isn’t particularly innovative. While the dials are effective enough at browsing the menus, the bank of eight buttons in the middle could have been better oriented to make it easier to work out which buttons do what at a glance.
The second annoying glitch is that if you press the ‘mode’ button to switch between the wireless connection, FM radio and auxiliary port, you’ll have to wait around 30 seconds for it to reconnect to your network when you try to access it again; this despite an apparent WiFi signal strength of 90 percent.
In addition we weren’t overly impressed by its wireless streaming capabilities. You have the option of either using Windows shared folders or a uPnP server through Windows Media Player 11. Though the latter works well provided you have a media library set up, getting it to connect to Windows shared folders was a bit of a nightmare, and required us to forward a fair few ports before it could find a way through. Audio quality isn’t as good when streaming, either; sound is more muffled and distorts at a far lower volume level.
Our final gripe with the Quattro is the rather small LCD display that only allows for two lines of text. This makes it rather time-consuming to browse the massive range of radio stations or digital media you might be sharing, and doesn’t make for particularly friendly operation.
The Tangent Quattro is up against devices like Terratec’s impressive Noxon 2, offering a similar footprint and range of features. While the Noxon 2 had its faults, it offers a few handy extras and is nicer to use than the Quattro, which leaves the retro styling as a redeeming feature that probably won’t be enough to raise it above capable rivals.
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