Review: Radium

Radium is a well-designed program to play radio on your Mac. (August 2nd, 2010)

Play any one of thousands of radio stations worldwide from a single window with Radium. This small unobtrusive app plays in the background without disturbing your workflow; unless of course, you get up to dance.

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: CatPig Studios Inc.

Price: $16 US

The Good

  • Clean, small, and unobtrusive.
    Good interface.
    Amazing variety of stations.
    Easy to load your favorite station.
    One window does it all.

The Bad

  • Search field seems limited.

Radium is a simple solution to streaming your favorite radio station. Radium loads with a single drag and drop to the applications folder. Upon launch it puts an icon in the status area in the menu bar in the upper right of your screen along with your Wi-Fi connection, sound, time and date, and whatever else you have loaded. The menu immediately opened and I chose the menu option Add All Channels. Radium installs with a list of thousands of stations, including Sirius/XM, digitally imported, and even subscription services. You can see a list of the networks on the site.

First Launch
First Launch

Once you load a station and click play from the menu the broadcast begins. No other windows open, which makes it a clean audio listening program that doesn't clutter the desktop the way iTunes does in its default setting. The same menu in which you choose a station has a volume slider to adjust the loudness of the broadcasts. radium-volume.jpg

Main Window

Main Window

A Now Playing listing displays in the bottom of the window, so you can always find out what is playing, without opening a dedicated window. You can press stop at anytime from the same menu and the icon remains in the upper right for easy access to listen to a broadcast.

When you choose Quit from the same menu, the icon disappears from the upper right menu bar status area. To run the app again you must go to where it is stored or to the Dock where you may choose to place it for more convenient access.

You can also choose to open Radium at login in the General pane of the Preference screen. The preferences open when you click the Action pop-up menu icon (gear)to the right of the search bar. They are not in the regular location that most preferences are found, in the upper left File menu, but they are neatly confined to the single menu format that Radium uses.

Action Menu Options

Action Pop-Up Menu Options

The general preferences do provide some carefree automation, such as running Radium immediately and the option to play the same station at opening as it was playing when the application was used last.

Preferences

General Preferences

If you want to choose which stations remain in your channel list, use the Radio Networks option in the Action menu. When you see how many foreign language stations show up in the list, if you selected load all stations, the channel list checkboxes are very helpful to keep your station list manageable. You may find it convenient to search on your language of choice and check only those stations in that language, or if you prefer, search on music genre. This same screen allows you to sort the stations by the newest added or you can show descriptions using simple checkboxes.

Radio Networks

Radio Networks

If your favorite station isn't listed, you can add the stream URL in the Radio Networks Pane in the Preferences. Just click the small Add (plus sign) and add any small niche station you like.

Add Stream

Add Stream

Using the search tool is helpful if you already know your favorite call letters. Favorite stations are denoted by a yellow star, but I wasn't sure right off the bat how useable checking off favorite stations is, since scrolling the list of stations to find a yellow star isn't as easy as using the search entry bar. [Editor's Note: Please see the *Correction below.] In the screen shot below, you can see I've designated the University of Miami music station as a favorite.

Favorites

Favorites

One less usable aspect of Radium is how the stations are organized in the browsing menu. They don't always appear in alphabetical order and this not helpful if you are searching for a genre, but the station name begins with a country or a set of call letters and not the genre. This is where the search bar can be used as a type of filter. For example, if you type "Rock" into the search field, all stations with the word rock in the name listing will come up for you to choose.

Search

Sample Search - Rock

Overall, Radium 2.6.5 is a great, handy program, that doesn't interrupt your workflow. It doesn't provide any differentiating features from any other radio streaming programs that do the same thing, it is just more elegant. Your choice to use Radium could simply come from the fact that it operates solely from one simple menu in which no other windows open and its reasonable price.

Radium illustrates the simplicity and elegance of a well-designed program that operates simply and represents user friendliness at its finest. You can download an unlimited 30-day trial for Mac OS 10.5 and up from the site. Once you buy it, all future updates are free. Radium is a good choice for those of you who enjoy streaming radio.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor *Correction: You can sort your radio stations by Favorites. Click the big star on the top-left corner and Radium will filter the list and just show favorite channels.

by Marcus Sholar


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