Features and Performance
There are just two physical controls on the Axis, Revo’s top of the range desktop radio - a power button and a rotary volume control. Every other function (of which there are many) is driven by the 3.5-inch colour TFT touch screen display.
I usually like a touchscreen interface on a WiFi radio. If well-designed it nicely maps out the features and functions in a manageable way. The Axis, along with many of its peers, has a lot to offer the user, and smothering it in traditional controls just makes things more complicated.
The screen is not quite as sensitive as the Logitech Touch, and is not as slick as an iPod, but generally it works well, allowing navigation of the system with relative ease. There is a remote available but only as an optional extra.
Revo’s Axis offers the full spectrum of radio sources currently on offer. In addition to media streaming and internet radio, there’s both DAB (with DAB+) and FM tuners. The Axis also has an iPod dock (with adapters for most iPods and the iPhone), a line in for connecting other devices, and line out with video out for connecting to an audio system or TV for iPod video output.
Start the Axis for the first time and the connection wizard finds your router, whilst the pop up qwerty keyboard makes entering the security code easy. The virtual keyboard also comes in handy when searching for online stations. You can search by location, genre and ‘Popular Stations’ which is derived from the 100 most listened-to stations on the Frontier Silicon portal site, which drives Revo’s internet radios. If stations offer podcasts, an option for these appears below the main station entry, which saves much time. These functions worked well, and in no time I was accessing radio stations and podcasts from around the world. Preferred online stations can be stored in a favourites list, and a list of favourite podcasts can also be stored in a separate menu. The manual didn’t state how many can be stored on the radio itself, I got to 30 without issue, but you can store as many favourites as you like on the Frontier Silicon website, which also stores a backup incase you have to perform a factory reset.
Slot an iPod into the dock and the Axis recognises it and asks whether you would like to switch to iPod mode. The touchscreen now presents control buttons for the iPod allowing skip/scroll, play and pause. It also charges the iPod.
The two alarms have all the usual features including weekend cancel, and will trigger any of the sources. When in standby the Axis displays the alarm times, and you can set the alarm without switching the unit on. The buzzer setting is harsh, a shrill din at higher volumes (it will certainly wake you), and the alarms do not have a humane start.
The unit’s sound quality is good, a mellow sound with good top end, lacking in low bass but good enough to fill most bedrooms or kitchens. However at higher volumes it does get harsh and on our sample the casing suffered from vibration. An EQ menu offers bass, treble and loudness controls. Overall the Axis performed well, with only a few minor operational grumbles. A ‘home’ screen button for each source would have been handy, rather than endlessly hitting the back button, and internet favourites would benefit from an icon for recalling them, rather than having to trawl back to the main menu. Overall I liked the interface and found it intuitive, and much preferred its touch interface to the rotary/push button alternative seen on so many internet radios. Unfortunately, the DAB and FM sensitivity were only average in our area of weaker signal, picking-up strong stations, but even then some had slight interference which was accentuated when listening through earphones.
Recommended if you live in an area with good radio reception, and you want a desktop radio with WiFi.