Summary


A great idea for portable internet radio with a decent colour touchscreen.

Where to get one


You can get the SoundPad from Amazon at around £140.





Arnova takes on Pure with SoundPad internet radio with speakers

Radio catchup is a great idea, letting you listen to talk shows and plays at a time to suit. There are lots of ways to get your radio fix - including via a tablet - but, in reality tablets often get hogged for watching BBC iPlayer, grabbed by the kids for games or reserved by a.n. other for music streaming via Amazon, so Arnova have come up with an alternative desktop solution - the SoundPad.

The SoundPad is basically a tablet with amplifier and speakers attached; a handy stand sets it at the right angle to surf the web, read e-mails or change stations from the kitchen with a touch of its hi-res screen.

Based on the popular Archos 35 Home Connect radio, the SoundPad runs the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system and can access the popular UK-based RadioPlayer and worldwide-flavour TuneIn apps, for live streaming of radio stations from around the globe as well as those useful catchup services. Needless to say, as it has access to an app marketplace, it supports loads of other useful things, such as Facebook and Google Maps.

The eye-catching 'Pad has a wide, 7 inch capacitive 5-point multi touchscreen and 2 x 5 Watts of audio power (yes, that's radio in stereo!) - just about enough to fill a small kitchen or bedroom.
TuneIn app on Arnova SoundPad
There's a generous 8GB of internal memory for storing music and video on this tablet-with-speakers - and an SD card expansion slot allows you to load up playlists of your favourite tracks or videos for playback (from a card capacity of up to 32MB). RAM is a bit limited - at 512MB - which means you'll not be able to stack the 'Pad full of apps, but at least the 1GHz Arm Cortext A8 CPU should keep things running smoothly.

Although the SoundPad sits in landscape mode, it still has a sensor to rotate the screen display if you pick it up and turn it through ninety degrees. Lacking Bluetooth (for, potentially, a cheap multi-room system) and GPS, the unit can be plugged into mains power or taken into the shed.

Audio formats covered are MP3, WAV, APE, OGG and FLAC, while the 1024 x 600 res screen deals with your AVI, MPG, RealMedia, MP4, MOV, VOB, DAT, Flash FLV, TS, 3GP and MKV video files - an HDMI out is located 'round the back. If you fancy using the Arnova as an expensive photo frame, JPEG, BMP, GIF and PNG formats are all supported, too.

There's a webcam and microphone for Skype calls as well as headphone and mini USB sockets. A built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery lets you take the Arnova outside, though you'll need to be in range of your router if don't want your streaming radio programme to be interrupted. The Soundpad works wirelessly or hard-wired via its RJ45 socket.

The 'Pad also makes a super alarm clock - simply load up your favourite clock apps and nudge the unit or poke the screen for a snooze. Standard settings let you adjust the display brightness, and in-app settings should let you turn off the display altogether.

Measuring 284 x 150 x 130mm and a sturdy 1.7kg, the Arnova SoundPad is available now at under £140.

Pitted against the Pure Sensia and the original Home Connect (which you can buy from our front page, we'd say the Arnova offers a lot of features for the money. With a combination of a decent touchscreen and built-in amp and speakers, the 'Pad takes the hassle out of tuning in - and all in stereo, too.Arnova Soundpad display and speakers
SoundPad front view