The PS Vita is a great console when it comes to gaming on the go, but it’s still underused when it comes to its media capabilities. With its breathtaking OLED display and performance under the hood, it’s a surprise that we still only have a few media players available for the Vita right right beyond those pre-installed from the start. While Youtube has given us access to video from all over the world and Sony’s Music Unlimited has provided a superb subscription-based music service, there’s still something lacking… until now.
TuneIn Radio is a small app for the PS Vita that gives you near unlimited access to the world of internet radio. Available for a range of tablets, mobile devices, smart TVs and even in-car systems, it has finally made its way over onto Sony systems with versions of the app being released for the PS3 and Vita. To call TuneIn a radio player undermines what it really offers and it is far more than just a portal to the vast world of internet radio. Boasting a facility granting access to over 70,000 radio stations, podcasts and shows it allows you to play live streams from all over the world through your Vita quickly and easily using an easy to navigate interface.
Controlling the software couldn’t be easier. The front end presents you with three panels. On the right are the main controls allowing you to select from your favourites list, the search, browse categories / stations at random from all over the world or select to display the current top songs and stations being listened to across the globe. The centre of the screen displays whatever is related to the option you have selected from the left so it could be a list of search results, your own favourites list, or top songs. Finally on the right is a panel showing what is currently playing. Clicking on this takes you to a larger version of that panel with more detailed track information and a list of recommended shows / stations based on what you are currently listening to. All of this can be navigated quickly using the d-pad or touch screen making it a joy to use.
Music is streamed straight to the Vita via wi-fi or 3G and there seems to be no little or no loss of signal during tyhe broadcasts. The only times I noticed this happening were on stations that I have experienced problems with before using “traditional” digital radio equipment so I would say that those issues were isolated to those channels specifically. If you are in a position where you are faced with a weak wi-fi or 3G signal and are experiencing drop-outs, there is an option for most stations to reduce the quality of the audio stream to minimise the bandwidth needed from your connection to stream it effectively. Overall though, I didn’t find that I needed to do this at any time and found the quality to be superb even in the one room in the house that has probably the weakest wi-fi signal!
The choice of stations on offer is superb and there really is something for everyone. No matter what your taste in music is – from rock to pop, classical to electronic or even if you’re looking for talk based stations, there’s something here for you. The search facility is incredibly powerful allowing you to help to find a local station near where you live, searching by country and even by city to find local news and information and music can be hunted for by genre, era and even specific tracks or artists. What did surprise me was the sheer number and diversity of commercial stations available. Just from the UK alone most of the BBC stations are available, for rock fans there is Kerrang, almost the entire Heart network is represented and it’s the same across the globe with stations available from CNN, ESPN and a range of major providers.
It’s not all a bed of roses though. TuneIn offers users the ability to create accounts so you can move your favourites list across devices and access it from anywhere in the world but no matter how hard I tried it simply didn’t work. For some reason, it refused to acknowledge that I was entering a genuine email address and I suspect that registration for accounts may be restricted to particular countries. Also, this is a paid for app unlike the android version which is free (ad supported) albeit only £0.79. There is a paid android version offering support for recording streams but I do wonder why the ad-supported option wasn’t considered for the PS Vita.
Overall this really is a superb app for the Vita. The PS3 version has replaced the MP3 playback on the console as our music source in the house and the PS Vita version improves on it with a more refined control system thanks to the intuitive and incredibly responsive touch screen. My only reservation is the question as to where you’re likely to use this. If you have the 3G model and want music on the go, then the range on offer coupled with the small size of the app make this a must. Otherwise, unless you are likely to use this coupled with your home wi-fi connection you may find yourself using your PC or the PS3 version more. Still a fantastic app and great value for money but not quite as mobile as it could have been.
At A Glance
- Title: TuneIn Radio
- Publisher: TuneIn
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N/A
- Cross Play: N/A
- Online Multiplayer: N/A
- Memory Card Space Needed: 55Mb