Zennox USB internet TV and radio player

My colleague Chris Bidmead mentioned this gadget on Twitter today. It’s advertised as a USB stick that gives you access to thousands of internet radio and TV stations – just plug it in to your computer and you’ll be able to listen to or watch loads of stuff, absolutely free.

All for the amazing price of just £29.99 – saving you £50 over the RRP. Yes, really – this is, apparently, something that’s worth £80 normally. So it’s a real bargain, clearly. And lots of people might buy it on that basis, and think that they really do need something like this to access internet TV and radio.

It’s not worth it!

The Zennox branded device is being sold by the reader offers sections of, at least, the Daily Mirror, the Star, the Guardian, The Scotsman, Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph. In each case it’s described as an “ingenious USB stick” and I’d suggest that the true ingenuity lies in persuading people that they actually need to spend £30 on something like this to access internet TV and radio.

They don’t. The product is, in each case, supplied by a company called Clifford James, who seem to have written the original copy that’s used by all the newspaper offers. Head over to their site, and you can download the manual or follow a link to a video.

What’s clear from that is that this is not a particularly ingenious USB stick. It’s just an ordinary USB stick which contains internet radio software, that doesn’t need to be installed on your hard drive to run.

I’m a little unclear how exactly this is worth £30 of anyone’s money, let alone the claimed £80 that’s used to justify the massive saving. Even as an ordinary consumer, you can buy a 2GB USB stick for just over £3 – and in large quantities, they’ll be much less than that, even with a fancy ‘Zennox’ logo printed on them. And, frankly, I would be surprised if the one that carries this software is even as big as 2GB.

What about the software? Won’t that cost a lot? Well, true, there is internet radio software out there that costs money – I even found one package that cost about $30. But the video and the manual for this don’t show anything terribly special, and if you head over to PortableApps.com you’ll find quite a few internet radio player apps that don’t need installation on your PC, and cost precisely nothing.

In fact, you could grab yourself a copy of iTunes, and use the radio functionality built into that, completely free, or visit WindowsMedia.com for Microsoft’s directory of online stations, or perhaps visit Shoutcast.com instead, for another directory.

What you most emphatically do not need to do is to spend £30 on a USB key, while fooling yourself that you’ve really saved £50 and got a bargain. You don’t need a USB key to listen to internet radio, whether it’s from Zennox or the similarly oddly described Manhattan equivalent – you just need an internet connection and some free software; many people will already have software on their computers that provides access to lots of internet radio.

Ultimately, products like this are misleading. The less knowledgeable believe that they need something special to receive internet radio; selling them a USB key with software on it is cheeky and unnecessary. When you don’t make it clear that all you’re getting is a program, dressing it up with terms like “ingenious USB key,” that comes pretty close to disreputable, in my opinion. And it’s certainly not the sort of reader offer I expect to see in newspapers that readers might turn to for information and opinions on gadgets.

(Updated to add Telegraph and Express reader offers too)

15 Replies to “Zennox USB internet TV and radio player”

    1. There are indeed free bits of software that can give you access to tv online – and in fact in many cases, you don’t even need any special software; just head to a site in your web browser and you’ll be able to view sites.

      There is nothing special about this ‘player’ – it’s just a USB stick with some software on it, and you can find lots of online TV without paying over the odds for this.

      Some people may find it slightly easier to use a program that helps them find streams – but my main objection is that none of the ads for this product are making it clear that it’s software, and nothing more. This is not a special USB device in any way – it’s a memory key, and you don’t need one to watch TV or listen to online radio

  1. So glad I read this, as I like so many others would have been sucked in by this seemingly “ingenious” device. I already knew I could access internet radio and tv easily, as I have done this on several occasions in the past, but I thought something which made this whole thing easier and brought everything together in one place wa on offer here. Glad I researched it first, as I have made hasty purchases in the past. I will definately not be buying this now, and probably not even bother with the alternative one I found on amazon for £5.99 lol

  2. Thank you for that enlightening piece of information; like Steve, I too thought this looked like a possible solution to our problem – the fact that it is still being advertised in the Telegraph in July must mean that people are buying them.
    Our problem is not that we cannot access radio & TV on our laptop but rather that we want to be able to do this in France on holiday and access both UK radio and French TV with UK TV being a bonus. Would this gadget help us to do this or is there something better?

  3. Sandra.
    If you have an internet connection all you need to watch uk tv.all be it delayed try BBC iplayer normally goes on stream just after the programs been teleivised there`s also itv and channel 4 too just google them !!!

  4. I also nearly bought this item- and having read comments about it, I’m sure it is aimed at people like myself, who are not technologically- minded, and therefore fooled. I will be contacting Guardian offers about this.

  5. What is more you can but this “TV USB INTERNET TV & RADIO DONGLE” on Amazon.co.uk for £3.95 and even then it is generally regarded as Rubbish! As stated this is just as stated trading on “The less knowledgeable believe that they need something special to receive internet radio” or TV.

  6. I saw this advertised and thought the same as you article.
    However in response to Sandra and Gary if you have broadband in France the servers will not let you have access to English TV such as BBC iplayer (Radio and podcast no problem).

  7. I’ve just been researching this product before purchasing one when I came across this page; I don’t think I’d bother now. The only thing I’m interested in is watching premier league and european matches on my laptop, which I’ve been streaming online. However I’m worried about infections and viruses (which I got on my laptop but not sure from where). Does anyone know any safe and trusted sites to stream these live matches?
    I would appreciate suggestions.

  8. I have to recommend 2 websites for watching tv, that are fab.

    First is A UK Freeview live streaming site, that is free, does require a log in, and you can get ITunes app, and Android too…

    TVCatchup – http://www.Tvcatchup.com

    Secondly is an American website, that has tons of series to be watched over the Internet, including programmes being aired in America, before UK showings (Dexter, Family Guy)


    If you have Sky, get the SkyGo or BBCiplayer app on your laptop/Apple or Android device too, especially now you can download programmes for a later time.

    You cannot however, watch BBCiplayer by streaming a programme while outside of UK due to their content restrictions (at least that’s what they say!)

  9. Does anyone know if tv can be obtained on my osx mountain lion imac please. we are new to apple, cannot get freeview so are a bit stumped.


    1. If you can’t get Freeview, you could get satellite, if you have a dish, using a device like the Elgato eyeTV sat Free, which will allow you to watch the free channels, of which there are quite a lot. http://www.elgato.com/uk/eyetv/eyetv-sat-free

      You can watch internet TV, of course, using things like iPlayer, or visiting the web sites of other stations – the Zennox ‘tuner’ is really just a cheap memory stick with some software on it that has a list of sites built in.

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