Pandora (streaming music) + Kyocera KR1 (EVDO router) test
I was fortunate enough to be able to test two new toys today. The first was the Kyocera KR1 (EVDO router) and the second one was an application of that wireless Internet, the streaming Internet personal DJ service Pandora (a music discovery service, powered by the Music Genome Project).
What's different about Pandora versus other Streaming Internet radio services is that you select what songs you like and then it uses an algorithm to find other new music that you might like. You can select what kind of music you like and it will learn to play only music that you like all the while introducing you to new material. Pretty cool.
To do this test in my car I needed the following:
- KR1 Internet Router (should be out in February for the public)
- EVDO subscription and PCMICA card(I used Verizon’s EVDO service ~$59/month)
- Car computer with a decent stereo system
- 5 volt voltage regulator for KR1 (I used the OPUS Point of Load PSU)
The Pandora page open on my car computer:
The KR1 allows you to put in a EVDO wireless PCMICA card and then create a portable Wifi “hotspot.” It also has a 4 port Ethernet switch. I chose to connect my car computer via Ethernet. If you had other Wifi devices they could also connect to this. For example, if your passengers had laptops or PDA’s they could all share the wireless Internet connection simultaneously.
The KR1 isn't for sale yet (should be out in February):
The 120 volt power brick enclosed with the KR1 wasn’t going to work in the car without an inverter so I quickly grabbed and OPUS point of load power supply and a spare power cable. I set the output voltage jumper of the OPUS Point of Load power supply to 5 volts. This power supply will take care of converting the car’s unregulated 12v electrical system down to a clean 5 volts required by the KR1.
Opus 5 volt regulator:
During my test I drove about 45 miles between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. I started by leaving the KR1 in the trunk. This worked first while stationary but not even one mile into the trip the Internet connection dropped due to lack of signal from Verizon’s network. I stopped and relocated the KR1 onto the rear deck in the back window area. This worked much better. I started up Pandora again and enjoyed it for the rest of my trip. I was amazed at how reliable it was. I had a few minor drop outs when getting closer to Washington. I suspect this was due to poor signal strength (poor signal strength = low Internet connection speeds) while traveling between cells or congestion on Verizon’s network. I suspect that an external antenna mounted on the roof would improve this and possibly eliminate any dropouts caused by poor signal strength.
KR1 installed on my rear deck:
KR1 as seen through my back window:
Here's a couple of demo videos:
http://www.natwilson.com/videos/KR1demo_2.wmv - This is me driving along with it running, I get a phone call at the end. (22 seconds)
http://www.natwilson.com/videos/KR1demo_3.wmv - Showing off the hardware (45 seconds)
Pretty cool if you ask me. I sold my XM radio stock back in 2004 thinking that it would bomb whenever wireless Internet became more affordable and widespread, because streaming Internet radio would be so much better. The stock went on to hit record highs :rolleyes: so I guess I was a bit early in my assessment, but I still think I’m right.
A couple of reasons while I feel Internet radio is more will become more of a key player in the mobile music world:
- Internet radio can be found for free
- New services such as Pandora allow for a more personalized music experience, tailored exposure to new talent
- Internet radio allows for a more High Fidelity audio experience (for those who find satellite radio sounds too compressed)
Once high speed wireless Internet gets more prevalent in cars it will be interesting to see what new applications make it worth while. As for me I’m quite happy with the Pandora music service.