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Full-Join PPS-FM WiFi Pocket Radio Review

By: Don Zelazny
on January 6, 2010 4:26 pm

PPS-FMWiFiRadio-1.jpgI remember in grade-school staying up late with the lights off in my room listening to Toledo Goaldiggers hockey games on my portable black RCA transistor radio.  I remember picking up a St. Louis station from my then home in Toledo and thinking how cool that was.

Enter the Wi-Fi radio, in this case the FullJoin Wi-Fi Radio. Now I can hide in my room at night and listen to stations from almost anywhere in the world! (… if I can just get my kids to stop finding me when I’m hiding…)

The unit charges by plugging it into a computer USB port; no other charging method is available, but this way there is one fewer cord to lug, and you will likely use your computer to “program” stations into the radio. The radio takes 5 or 6 hours to charge fully, but claims to run 15 hours on a charge.  I haven’t come close to running down the first charge yet.

As you would guess, the radio works  by picking up a Wi-Fi signal, either from your own router or any other available network.  The first thing you need to do to use the Internet Radio function is connect to a network.  The radio will scan for available networks when turned on.  (There is also a Scan for Networks function under settings for any time you wish to scan for networks again;  for instance if you take the radio to another location or if the network you are using weakens).  If an unsecured network is not available you will need to connect to a secure network.  The radio will remember up to three networks and appropriate setting in its memory,  so if you use the radio in the same place each time you do not need to continue to connect to your network again and again.

Connecting to secure networks is where I had difficulty.  The radio will ask for a security key based on the setting on the router.  Two of the networks I tried to connect to use WPA, so the radio asked for the WPA passphrase.  I could NOT get the radio to connect using my WPA passphrases (and I know they work as I’ve connected two different laptops  using same passphrases). I could only get the radio to connect if I unlocked the network. The radio can pick up other forms of encryption such as WEP64 and WEP128.  Passwords are entered into the radio using the spin dial on the front of the radio.  You also use this to choose various options, as you would with the wheel on an iPod.

The radio is made by Shenzhen Full-Join Technology Co out of China, which from their website seems to be a relatively new company, especially with regards to consumer products.  Their website seems a bit hastily put together, with a number of incorrect English translations.  I have included the url for a stateside and Canadian supplier though. The radio station selection portal and its technology are handled by a British company called CSR.

The most fun is choosing the radio stations you want to listen to and perhaps store as favorites.  To do so you log on to what is called CSR’s vTuner on your computer (csr.vtuner.com).  There is an easy to find number called a MAC address stored on the radio, which identifies your unique radio.  Once this is entered and accepted you are able to set up a login email/password combination of your choosing to use for further logins to browse, add or change stations on your radio. The selection is truly overwhelming (as anybody who spends any time browsing radio on their computer already knows).  At my last login there were over 13,000 radio stations and almost 7500 podcasts available through this portal.  There are likely podcasts you will look for that won’t be available on vTuner;  most of the other podcast aggregators I have used have more podcasts available, but with 7500 you should be able to find something that interests you!

The sound from the radio is ok, but I preferred to use my own headphones as the radio has a 3.5mm jack. The radio isn’t cheap at $160.  With the price on netbooks so low I imagine many would just opt for one of these to get your internet radio fix; but,  if you want something you can fit in your hand  or pocket easily then this would certainly qualify.

Oh, did I mention the unit also has an FM radio feature as well?  When I can listen to music from South Africa or Mali or a talk show from the Middle East it hardly seems fair to make the poor radio play a tune off the new Mariah Carey cd on the FM though…

 

Product Information

Price:$159.99
Manufacturer:Full-Join
Retailer:Merconnet
Pros:
  • Choosing stations
  • FM Radio
Cons:
  • Cost
  • Inability to connect to WPA (at least for me)

Comments

  1. 1
    Cornelius Eastman says:

    I purchased two of the PPS2 radios at CES. It connects well with open networks. I have also had problems with passwords. The selection of wifi stations is overwhelming. The FM receiver has good sensitivity. The size and long battery life make it a good option for air travelers. I spend alot of time in airports; having a reliable source of good music makes the travel easier.

  2. 2
    Josh says:

    Why not take an iPod Touch ?

  3. 3
    Dave says:

    I got one of these somewhat cheaper from ebay at only £56 incl postage here in the UK. I am very impressed but certain stations like one of my favs Big Country Radio in Australia and 3MP just will not connect, also BBC podcasts of which there are many may be listed but not one will play. I hope for a firmware update to correct these issues at some point

  4. 4
    Bob says:

    Just bought one off Ebay,fanatistic little set,I can access my router & WiFi extender ok.One thing I’m concerned about is the battery life,manual appears to say about 300 charges before performance is affected,so where do I go for a replacement battery? First full charge took about 10 hours not 5-6

  5. 5
    Barry says:

    Well I am glad I am not the only idiot that cant make it work! I could not connect my Full Join to the WiFi because of WPA code connection problems on four different WiFi boxes! Surely this is the main reason for buying the set. Nice neat radio very well packed and presented – excellent English instructions but it sadly it does not do what it says on the box!

  6. 6
    Lyndon says:

    Me too bought this unit to enable me to listen to stations without taking my laptop out side, since the internet is provided by the company as part of my contract, thought i would easy log in to the wi fi that i use for lap top, No way! it picks up this Wi fi but it is locked ! and to unlock i used the same password that i use for my laptop !, searched all over the net for tips on how to access, realize now that I was doing the right thing ! but did think the MPA code might have to be in HEX or ASCII Code !
    when ii got a intermittent signal else where brill !
    good product wasted on poor flexibility, a clock , sleep & snooze would have been better too !

  7. 7
    John says:

    Help. I cannot find the mac number on MY model. Any suggestions? Thank you :)

  8. 8
    James says:

    While researching more on this radio I saw one post that claims this radio will only work on WPA if the pass phrase is 8,9, or 10 characters long. If it’s over that it won’t work, supposedly this info was passed along to the OEM.

    As for who the OEM is that is up for debate, it probably isn’t made by Full-Join as its marketed under a slew of other names too (Epoch, Mutant, PPS etc). They all appear to be the same with the exception that Mutant has custom firmware that includes its brand name.

    @John To get your MAC address you can view it by going into the menu to Network Settings and then MAC Address (or something like that, I don’t have mine yet).

  9. 9
    Steve Beverly says:

    Don, I recently bought the wi-fi TV-radio from Full-Join. The technical information and support is highly lacking. But you said you could not get the radio unit to work unless you “unlocked the network.” As one with less technical knowledge, I don’t know what you mean by “unlock the network” because I am having the same problem. My unit can read my wi-fi network (Virgin Mobile 2200) but it will not lock onto it. I keep receiving a “network error” message. What am I doing wrong? I hate to think I’ve spent $100 on something that isn’t going to work.

  10. 10
    gccradioscience says:

    I am planning getting one of these radios from somewhere on the web, don’t know where yet. But this is my only alternative to my small portable internet radio that has a messed up stereo jack, which means I cannot hear my favorite radio stations in stereo. I cannot wait to own of these. I heard that this one has a good provider than walnut media. I know this is going to work out for me even if I have to use the app called Connectify. No I am not going to unlock my network my network is using WPA-AES encryption. Connectify uses WPA-PSK.

  11. 11
    Erkan Umut says:

    I bought this model from HK on eBay.
    I connected my Wi-Fi after many attempts.
    Pros: Well built, lightweight, good sound, good FM and Internet reception, well-lit and clear display, [excellent FM reception], very good Favorites selection and adding stations through PC (for Wi-Fi), good manual.
    Cons: Each time you open it, you have to confirm the Key stored to be able to connect internet even you have one server.

    For a succesful Wi-Fi connection:
    1. Make sure selected the Automatic (DHCP) option in the Edit
    Settings from the Network Menu!
    2. Be sure to be in the coverage area (better close by wireless modem)!
    3. After you enter the (WEP/WPA) Key, press Select just after the last key. Do not leave blank space more than one!

  12. 12
    Carl says:

    I tried and tried to get the radio to connect to my WEP protected network with a 5 letter key using the WEP64 passphrase – to no avail. The radio would connect just fine if I turned off the WEP on my modem, but I am unwilling to leave the modem unlocked.

    I think I found a solution:
    Enter the WEP key NOT as a passphrase, but convert it to hex and enter it as a WEP64 key. I found an online converter from WEP to hex at http://www.corecoding.com/utilities/wep2hex.php entered the new code, and the radio will connect just fine

  13. 13
    brian says:

    i have one of these small radios but sometimes works easy on internet other times just says wrong passphrase, i have a 8 digit wpapsk key i tried the hex converter but the number is 1 digit to long oddley enough it finds bt open and finds ip but thats all any idea if i can get this working o/k please

  14. 14
    Will says:

    I bought one of these radios on ebay. I just got it, and I couldn’t find a way to input a custom station. I was able to telnet into my radio and enable the webserver so I could put in the stations I wanted. If you would like to see how, check out my blog post about it. So far I am very pleased with the radio :)

    http://willstare.com/fulljoin-pps301-review/

    I’m only trying to share how to make the radio work better. Thanks!

  15. 15
    Robert Willis says:

    Paid less that £40 which I thought was good. Very frustrating at first to get unit to recognise my router. Tried hex converter as well but I don’t think it necessary. Next day I connected to pc to see what vtuner was all about. After fiddling about not sure if anything would work properly.
    Disconnected from pc and then it magically worked 100%.
    I use wi-fi connection so easy now…every time…..It’s worth persevering with. A fantastic little set.

  16. 16
    Alan Nixon says:

    I had the same connection problem but sent an email to Sansui UK who badge it in the UK their reply cured the problem.
    The manual says when entering the passphrase press ok after each digit is entered then after the last digit press and hold, after the last digit DO NOT press oh then press and hold or you will enter a space. After you have entered the last digit JUST PRESS AND HOLD this worked for me.

  17. 17
    mike poulton says:

    My radio used to work fine but now connects to my routerwith MP3 44k1 full battery and selected radio staion showing on screen with “connecting” or “playing ” in box .Sometimes it plays a little.The router is active all the time it is connected but for some reason it is not streaming. Please help!!!

  18. 18
    brian miller says:

    i bought a sansui from e bay several years ago it worked at times then even after a lot of setting up network it still only worked intermittently so i returned it and got my money back, after a few months had gone by i saw one advertised for £15, so i left the bid at that, to my supprise i won it post free. it was excactly the same as the other one very unstable, so i got on to talktalk they said my speed was excellent and no problem they eventually gave in and sent me one of their latest routers after that its been excellent no trouble at all. finding this site i managed to add in uk 1940 radio that wouldnt work it does now.

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