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Tivoli Radio: Sweet Sound, Steep Price

Tivoli's NetWorks is the best-looking Internet radio -- by far -- to date. You have a choice of three different wood finishes: cherry, walnut and wenge (pronounced "venga"). All three come with a gold metal grill protecting the single, full-range speaker inside. There's also an optional, matching right-channel speaker if you're interested. The NetWorks itself comes in two versions, with or without an FM radio inside.

Internet radios have to be carefully programmed, and the NetWorks is no exception. If you use your home Wi-Fi connection, you have to select it from a list that the radio finds -- and then carefully input your network's secret code (if there is one). The NetWorks receiver has five station memories that are selectable (after programming them) via the small remote-control unit or via the controls and buttons on the back panel.

Once you've done all that you can, sit back and enjoy the sound -- because the NetWorks system is the best-sounding Wi-Fi on the market. It has great bass, smooth mids and surprisingly good treble extension on high-quality Internet audio streams (try WFUV, Fordham University's 128KB feed, and you'll understand what I mean).

I would like to especially commend Tivoli on making a Wi-Fi radio that lets you know what time it is while you're listening to music. The NetWorks' four-line, fluorescent-blue display actually has enough room to give you all of the music station's information as well as the current time. This is especially nice if you plan on using your NetWorks as a clock radio.

You can also connect a computer via the NetWorks's USB port so you can stream music directly. Sound quality is very, very good. There is also an earphone jack, plus "subwoofer" and "record out" mini-jacks as well as "mix in" and "aux in" mini-jacks. Tivoli sells a separate subwoofer ($169) and a CD deck ($300) if you think you need them.

Tivoli quality doesn't come cheap. The NetWorks radio retails for $599.99. Add $50 for FM inside. A right-channel extension speaker is an additional $100. All things being equal, $600-$750 is a lot of money for a table radio -- but in this case, I don't believe it's over the top.

NetWorks is a great-looking, great-sounding, room-filling, high-quality music system. And it comes from Tivoli Audio, so you know it's good. Give it a listen: You should be as impressed as I was.
Gary Krakow is's senior technology correspondent.
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