We love free Internet radio and TV, even when it's a pain to access channels and stations; the variety of the programming more than makes up the inconvenience. Still, it could be easier, thanks partly to free tools like Solway's Internet TV and Radio Player. Kevin Solway's free player lets you quickly switch between Internet radio and TV stations without opening them individually in your browser. It requires up-to-date versions of both Windows Media Player and RealPlayer. It addition, you have to have RealPlayer open when running Solway's player.
Solway's Internet TV and Radio Player includes an associated tool, Solway's Audio Recorder, which lets you record tunes off the Net as MP3, WMA, or Ogg Vorbis files at three quality levels. The TV and Radio player itself lists stations in a sidebar to the left of the main display. The player's controls are basic, though we could switch between Radio and TV lists, specify broadband or dial-up stations, and show only Favorites. Clicking New or Edit let us add or modify station details using the same properties sheet, which has fields for both Home and Stream URLs. The player includes a decent selection of radio stations and an adequate TV station list that is more than a little typical of free TV players, with plenty of public-affairs channels, national stations, and music video channels.
We started by limiting the lists to broadband offerings, which greatly reduced the radio station list but had less effect on the TV station list, which admittedly is much smaller than the radio list. Solway's doesn't offer a plethora of settings like some media players (RealPlayer handles some of that) but it does let you link to a recorder application (like the supplied default recording app, Solway's Audio Recorder) with the ability to directly access your Windows Recording and Playback Mixers. We sampled a variety of the supplied TV and radio stations. Not surprisingly, we had better luck with the radio stations than we did with the streaming video, but few of the listed TV stations seemed especially appealing. Specifying our own stations produced better results.