I have made the full switch to listening exclusively to Internet Radio stations many years ago. The core reasons? Accessibility while working on the PC, less ads and talking while songs are playing, and better recording possibilities (see our StreamWriter review for an excellent program that can be used for that purpose.
I usually use desktop media players like AIMP3 to listen to Internet Radio stations, as it is a lot more comfortable than having to keep a streaming page open all the time in the web browser. That’s especially true if you have to restart the browser every now and then.
Radio Player Live is an excellent Chrome extension that offers a great radio listening experience for Chrome users. First time users need to add at least one station to the extension before they start accessing the selected stations via the extension’s Chrome address bar button.
This is done on the extension’s page. A click on Add radio stations lists all the available options. Users can add a station from the gallery listing maintained by the extension developers, add stations from popular sites such as the Shoutcast directory or Digitally Imported, or add stations manually.
All stations from the gallery can be added with a single click of the mouse button. They list many terrestrial stations, like RTL and RTL2, Virgin Radio, BBC 1 to BBC 6 or .977.
Third party stations lead to websites from where the stations need to be added. The extension adds buttons next to each station on those sites which can be used to add the selected radio station to the extension.
A click on the Radio Player Live button loads an overlay prompt to add the selected station to the radio player. The station’s name, website, logo and category can be customized here.
The station can then be selected via the extension’s button in the Chrome interface. Stations can be sorted into categories for easier identification. You can do that when you add a station, or later on under Manage my stations in the program options.
Users who do not like the theme can modify it extensively in the options. From background and header text colors to borders, category names and srollbars. Nearly every visual aspect can be modified.
The player window itself displays a list of radio stations, the currently playing station, the volume, and pause and stop options. You can switch to another radio station with a click.
The program supports VLC and Windows Media Player plugins, but I was not able to get those to work in the Chrome browser. It is not clear from the description whether they are used to play the radio stations in the browser, or if the music is redirected to the desktop player from where they are then played.
Google Chrome users who like to listen to Internet radio while surfing should take a closer look at Radio Player Live.
Sharkzapper for Chrome, however, is up to the task. Install the extension, and you've got drop-down control to skip forward or back, pause, and resume playback of your Grooveshark tunes. You can also adjust volume, add the current track to your library, like it, and search for other tracks to play. With a developer version of Chrome I couldn't see the text I typed in to the search box, but my Grooveshark tab came to the front and displayed results for Bloodhound Gang anyway.
Dan Kantor knows the web, and he knows music. Better still, he knows how to make the two play nicely together. If you're not familiar with his work, Dan built Spinner -- AOL's popular music site -- when he was part of our family.
Now he's on his own, and he's got a new musical marvel to share: ExtensionFM. While using the extension inside Google Chrome is fun enough, it's easy to see just how cool it's going to be on the Google Chrome OS smartbooks and tablets that are due out later this year.
The concept behind ExntensionFM is a simple one: scan the webpages you browse for embedded MP3s and build a library of tunes inside your browser. You can also put together playlists, and the music will keep streaming in the background as you happily (or unhappily, depending on your modus operandi) surf the web.
ExtensionFM also provides listings of artists and albums in your library, and a list of the sites you've listened to -- which adds a whole 'nother layer of cool. Once you've grabbed a track from a particular site, ExtensionFM keeps tabs on it for you. We'll have more on this after the break, along with more screenshots and Dan's screencast!