Grace Allegro GDI-IRD4000 Portable Wi-Fi Internet Radio Review
Some things are worth waiting for. I had wanted to include a portable (i.e. battery-operated) Wi-Fi radio in the product reviews for the Holiday Gift Guide yet finding one that actually worked was a challenge. The first two simply didn’t. So, some four months later, it’s a case of “better later than never.”
The third radio, the Grace Allegro Portable Wi-Fi Internet Radio, was a bit recalcitrant, to say the least, in terms of setup, but once I got it up and running, it was perfect for its intended use around the house. It’s great for anywhere from the kitchen to outdoors to the bath and shower area.
The compact, sharp-looking Grace Allegro has a glossy black finish that looks attractive but is subject to the collection of fingerprints. It comes with an easy-to-use, battery-operated remote control, an AC power adapter, and a manual. In addition to the remote, you can also control the unit from an iPhone or iPod touch by downloading the appropriate app. The Allegro has a built-in battery charger that will recharge NiMH AA batteries (the unit also runs on AC power). Battery life is approximately two hours.
The radio has an LCD backlit clock and supports alarm and sleep functionality (there are five separate alarms and the sleep time ranges from 30 seconds to 23 hours). If no Wi-Fi connection is available at the time of an alarm, the clock will sound a buzzer instead. The clock is automatically set to the correct time via the Internet and works in 12- or 24-hour mode.
The Achilles heel of the unit is the user interface. I found it to be extraordinarily frustrating while the remote control, which has dedicated buttons for the Pandora online radio service, was reasonably straightforward to use. Grace uses Reciva’s Internet radio station database and the radio spent several hours updating the database, while refusing to do anything else. The next morning, when I restarted the radio, it allowed me to select the radio stations I wanted and it was smooth sailing from there.
The Allegro connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network and supports 802.11b/g/n. The unit supports WEP (64- and 128-bit) and WPA (WPA Personal and WPA2-AES) security. Initially, it did not want to connect to my home network but eventually changed its mind. Entering in the network key (mine is 23 characters) is slow using the scroll wheel but this is usually done only once.
The radio supports a total of 15 presets, ten on the remote and five on the unit. You can also use a Web browser to further organize your listening experience.
In addition to the tens of thousands of Internet radio stations, the Grace can access Pandora, Sirius, Live365, and digital music stored on your home PC. Configuring both options was simple. The Allegro supports Real Audio, WMA, Flac, MP3, WAV, AU, AIFF, and OGG Vorbis.
The Grace Allegro is monaural, with a single speaker. I listened into a variety of radio stations ranging from classical music (including my current favorite, Radio Swiss Classic) as well as jazz, rock, and pop and it consistently delivered a rich and full sound.
Despite the frustrating interface and illogical menus, the high-quality sound of the Allegro and its innate portability make it a great choice for those wishing to expand the Internet radio listening experience to other parts of the home or garden.
–Paul Riegler is Technology Editor of Executive Road Warrior.