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TECH REVIEW: Stand-alone Livio Radio streams Net music at decent price

If you're a fan of the Internet music site Pandora.com, you'll want to take a look at the Livio Radio with Pandora. Sometimes it's just not convenient to listen to your Pandora stations on a computer. Options for a stand-alone radio have been sca...

If you're a fan of the Internet music site Pandora.com, you'll want to take a look at the Livio Radio with Pandora.

Sometimes it's just not convenient to listen to your Pandora stations on a computer. Options for a stand-alone radio have been scarce and expensive.

In fact, the last Pandora-equipped radio I reviewed cost $500.

The Livio Radio with Pandora is just $199 (or cheaper at Amazon) and does a great job bringing the Pandora experience to your living room or stereo system.

You have to use a computer to register your radio's serial number and your Pandora account. The entire online setup took about two minutes.

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When you power up the Livio Radio for the first time, it will scan your home for wireless networks and present you with a list of available networks. You can then enter your password and begin listening. You use the remote to choose letters from an on-screen keyboard. It's not the best system, but I can't think of a better one.

You also can connect the Livio Radio to your home network through a built-in Ethernet jack.

Once connected, your Pandora information is downloaded from the Internet and any Pandora stations you've created will be listed. Just pick your favorite station, and it'll begin streaming in a few seconds.

The Livio is really designed around the Pandora listening model.

One of Pandora's best features is the rating of songs via thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons. This was done on the computer screen before now, but the Livio brings those buttons to the radio (or remote) to let you rate songs as they play.

If you give a song a thumbs-down rating, it immediately stops playing and Pandora moves on to the next song.

Pandora uses these thumb ratings to fine-tune your music selections.

You also can listen to more than 10,000 Internet radio stations through the Livio's Internet connection.

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Livio also sells a similar radio that features NPR stations pre-loaded so you can find those streams in a snap.

Speaking of online stations, you can search for stations using the Livio's small screen and remote, but I really recommend using the Livio radio portal (powered by www.reciva.com ) to search for and save stations that will appear in a favorites menu when you use the radio.

There are no AM or FM tuners, but I'm sure you've already got several of those around your home. You'll buy the Livio for its streaming.

The single speaker of the Livio is fine for kitchen or bathroom listening, but for entire rooms, you'll probably want to use the line out port and connect the radio to your home sound system.

Overall, I think the Livio Radio with Pandora is an affordable choice for getting your Pandora fix without a computer.

Livio Radio with Pandora

Pros: Clean design, easy interface, Pandora-specific buttons, aux in and line out ports.

Cons: No AM/FM. Mediocre sound.

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Bottom line: Of the Pandora streaming radios I've tested, this one brings the music for the best price.

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