Six-way audio

An internet audio player offers six sound sources from internet radio, through MP3 to CD. Mark Fletcher reports

An internet audio player offers six sound sources from internet radio, through MP3 to CD The Alloy designed InTune 200 is based on an innovative technical concept from PDT, called a portable internet audio player. It has six sound sources giving users access to thousands of internet radio stations, MP3, CD, terrestrial radio, email and text to speech for caller display. Retailing at under £200 it heralds a breakthrough in affordable internet appliances as it does not require a hard wired RJ45 connection, allowing you to listen in the location of your choice simply by plugging in to a free USB socket on your PC. InTune 200 will be launched at the CES show, in Las Vegas in January 2003. In the face of strong competition the InTune 200 has been selected by the show judges as an Innovations Honoree and has also won a prestigious award as one of the Best Innovations in the Online Internet Product category. Alloy used its teams' combined knowledge of computers, telecommunications and consumer electronics to create a fresh and distinct aesthetic for this new class of product. The brief was completely open in that Alloy was also charged with configuring the internal layout as there was no precedent to work from. The result is a user interface similar to the familiar midi hi-fi system style, but angled to improve usability. The hi-fi message is reinforced by the anodised-look metallic finish and cloth covered speakers, but it is also balanced by a the form factor of a classic portable radio. The modular design makes for easy manufacturing. To facilitate variants for global markets the radio components can be swapped during the construction stage to allow different frequency radios to be inserted. Gus Desbarats of Alloy comments: "Creating a new consumer electronics product that would deliver PC technology and content with the usability of a phone was a fascinating design challenge. To find the right creative answer we had to go back to first principles and rediscover what specific attributes drove consumer expectations in each sector, so that we could then build something totally new, but with the right degree of familiarity. It’s the kind of ‘high precision’ creative challenge that we really love to get our teeth into." MF The Alloy