Published On: Thu, Feb 11th, 2010

Inspirational Rumba: A New Way To Connect To Your Culture!

Over the years, people have asked me what motivates me to do what I do (connecting people to Latino culture). Aside from the fact that there wasn't an internet, any real cultural Latino programming on TV (Chico & The Man does not count) or a very robust Latino history book selection in our schools or libraries, it was simply because at the time I started, there were no very many people doing it, and those that were, happened to be in an older age group. When I think about all the cultural things I have experienced or learned about over the years…the one thing I can honestly say that connects more people to their culture than anything else (even food) is MUSIC.

Music is part of my daily routine and those that know me know that my musical tastes are very eclectic. I listed to everything from Old School Hip Hop, R&B, Folk to Classical and lately independent fusion music…but my life's soundtrack also has a significant amount of Latino Music in it. In that space I can listen to Salsa, Merengue, Vallenato, Cumbia, Boleros, Rancheros and even a touch of Latino Rock (shout to the Mona Passage). Every genre inspires something different in me…

My main problem is, that in my home office/studio (which is called the Bohio) I spend a good amount of time on my computer. My schedule has become very restrictive these days and how I get my music has significantly shifted. I no longer have time to download music and that can get very expensive, I never buy CD's because not all groups have a quality album that I would listed to from beginning to end. I love services like Pandora and Slacker but I tend to use those more on my personal Blackberry device, mostly because I have been using Skype to connect with customer. I mean can you imagine me picking up a skype call before pausing WATAGATAPITUSBERRY on my computer? My client may think I am crazy…maybe not but the point is from an organizational perspective, it is difficult to edit media, connect and manage digital media all on one computer. For a while I would even stream music via my laptop just to get thru the day…but never again…

A few days before Three Kings Day Papo and I were invited to receive a free V-Tech IS9181 Internet Radio Receiver aka Rumba to play with and review. This is a product that I personally had no idea existed but wished I would have conceived myself.  (yeah that was a disclaimer)

We have never really done tech reviews here…but this made sense. I have a personal interest in exploring music that inspires me to write and this product promises to deliver that experience. In addition it would address my issue with the limitations of just how many things I can do at my workstation without having a meltdown. I would actually be able to listen to music from anywhere in Latin America (or the world really) in my office without disrupting my work flow. It even has a remote control that allows me to quickly mute it in the event of a incoming skype call. 

One of the other features I love is that it allows me to stream existing music on my network (I am actually listening to "Crush It" by Gary Vaynerchuk as I write this) easily and without much effort. The set up was so easy my 15 year old son (Dj Tommy Tunez) had it playing El Gran Combo in less than 5 minutes. Now instead of my having to bookmark a million websites to explore music on the web, I have a very simple personalized play listed sorted by genre that allows me almost instant access wherever there is a Wi-Fi signal. Last but not least, it also picks up your local terrestrial stations. My wife really likes the Accu-Weather widget thats built in giving us up to date weather alerts right on the device…that keeps her from having to take the remote control away from me every time she wants to check the weather. 

Besides the impact on my personal work flow and my TV time, it is so inspiring to hear and discover music that is not normally played here in the United States. As soon as I showed it to my friend Juan Carlos, he went online and purchased one so that he can stay connected to local news and political debates in Latin America. He loves it and thanks me every time he has seen me since. It has been a while since new technology has had such an effect on my life…and I am loving it! The only thing I am going to put in the V-Tech suggestion box is they beef up the remote control…it is a little too small in my opinion (I already lost it twice).

Nothing beats a video to really show off the features so my partner Papo Swiggity has actually put together a video so that you can see the radio in action yourself. Before you watch the video, make sure you peep some of the key features of the IS9181:

• Best-in-class 802.11 Digital Wi-Fi technology, providing superior range and streaming rates
• Internet radio streaming from 11,000 stations or ability to search for any stations that stream online
• Internet radio stations search from VTech's site or on the device itself
• Preset favorites online
• PC or Mac-stored MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, Real music file playing 
• Connect a MP3 player or any audio device directly to the radio using the provided cord.
• Connect the IS9181 via RCA connections to other audio systems for streaming access.
• Internal 2.1 speakers
• Weather and horoscope text updates based on zip code
• Convenient remote – browse, select and control music from across the room
• Large full-color display 
• AC Power Adapter 
• Battery-operated option (requires six AA batteries, not included)
• MSRP: $199.95 
• Available now at 

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Inspirational Rumba: A New Way To Connect To Your Culture!