What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Sat, 31 May 2008, 1:00pm

Intempo Rebel

Tested at £70
80100
4

The idea is brilliant – if it appeals, then go for it, but don’t expect mind-blowing sound

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For

  • Ingenious idea
  • endless supply of MP3 music
  • balanced sound
  • inoffensive styling

Against

  • Limited sound quality, both as a radio and an MP3 recorder
  • incomplete tracks
  • takes time to ‘learn’ stations

Here's some genuine invention in the radio market. The Intempo Rebel is the first device to incorporate the ‘Popcatcher' software, which allows you to convert radio broadcasts into individual tracks for your MP3 player. And they're all completely free of DJ chatter and adverts. So an endless supply of new, free, legal music. Clever, huh?

It's not all good, though. For starters we're talking FM radio, not DAB. Also, your tunes can be recorded only in MP3 format at a claimed 192kbps. Lastly, the Rebel takes 12 hours to ‘learn' a station, before you can start recording.

After the Rebel has learned the station, it caches up to 40 tracks to its internal memory. To get them to your portable, there's a USB input and an SD/MMC card slot. It's a bit trickier to put your new music on your iPod, involving loading a replaceable ‘blank' to your iPod from a supplied CD, but it gets there in the end.

No chatter and lots of music
Saved tracks are indeed free of chatter and ads, but as a result tend to be less than 3 minutes long – though that's not the Intempo's fault. Fading in and out, you get a decent rendition of the latest music, however, and it's all free.

Sound quality isn't the last word in hi-fi, but then you wouldn't really expect that. It is acceptable, though. There's not a lot of bass or dynamism, but it certainly veers away from the usual harshness favoured by cheaper radios.

This is all about the USP – there's simply nothing else like it. If you listen to the radio to get your new-music fix, and you can live with average quality MP3s and radio sound, this is a genius way of keeping on top of the pops.

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