Griffin has been faffing around with the Radio Shark for at least a year, so it was a relief to see the finished product emerge at last. The idea of RadioShark is a bit like Sky+ for radio – a hard-disk recorder for radio programmes that also lets you pause live radio. It connects via USB and looks a bit like a shark fin, hence the name.
Some may question the need for a radio recorder, or something that lets you pause live radio. Radio is by its very nature a transient thing; most of it doesn’t even warrant recording. If you’re a music lover, then you usually only need to keep listening for another hour to hear your favourite top-20 track played again. I’m more of a Radio 4 kind of guy, and there are programmes that I like to listen to, but unless I happen to be driving while they’re on, I usually miss them. The ability to record like a video recorder is therefore appealing to me.
The reality of using the RadioShark is pretty good for the most part – though it’s a version one application, so there’s room for improvement. The software is easy to set up: I had Radio 4 playing in just a few minutes. The RadioShark can tune in both AM and FM, but unfortunately doesn’t do digital radio. Being an American product, it’s unlikely to gain any digital features as digital radio isn’t available in the US (at least not in the same way it is here). The sound quality is fine if get a strong enough signal.
The interface is easy to get to grips with, though the Record button is a little small. Pausing live radio works a treat, and can be configured to pause almost indefinitely if you have a big enough hard drive.
If there is one criticism, it’s the interface for setting the timer. It isn’t really Griffin’s fault: there aren’t the same resources for radio schedules as there are for TV schedules. This means you need to type in the times and dates that you want to record. To record the programme that you want, you’ll need to leave the application running – which is easily forgotten.
Compared to the way the Elgato EyeTV works with video it seems a little clunky. Elgato has the benefit of tvtv.co.uk to take care of scheduling recording times. There is no equivalent for radio, which is a shame. Worst still is that the situation is unlikely to change.
At the moment, you can listen to digital versions of BBC radio shows, but only at your Mac. To record them you need to convert them using Audio Hijack or something similar. The RadioShark method lets you record and import into iTunes, and therefore and iPod in one go. This is a convenience once you get over the hurdle of the initial setting of the timer.
If you’re a radio fan and would like to listen to shows on your iPod when you want to rather than when they’re on, the RadioShark is great. I’m not sure how big the audience is for a gadget like this, but it certainly appeals to me.