Much like the announcement that the Zune HD would include an HD-Radio tuner, this just doesn’t have me that excited. I haven’t listed to radio in well over a year and I don’t plan on starting again just because it’s now being transmitted in “HD”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good when technology moves forward but do we really need HD-Radio and the possibility of surround sound in our cars?
The NS-HD01 is the first portable HD radio to hit the market and at around $50 it’s not a bad deal. If you only want to listen to the radio. Coming in a little bigger than most MP3 players out there, that’s all it does. You won’t be bringing all of your own music with you since Insignia has decided that 1GB of storage would just be too expensive.
The device has a 1.5 inch color LCD screen and 9 buttons for setting presets and controlling all aspects of your experience. One thing HD radio does do is provide a lot more information and the screen should be able to display it for you if you want to have a look. It also picks up analog transmissions in case the station you’re tuned into has switched to digital yet.
Much like digital television, HD-Radio allows for use of the extra bandwidth to transmit side stations, dubbed HD2 and HD3 where available. How stations are going to use this I don’t know since if I want to listen to Classic Rock and that’s what is on the main station, switching to a sub-channel may not give me what I want.
It’s not that I have anything against radio any more than I have a beef with television but just like television, it’s too linear for my world now. Besides the fact that I listen mostly to podcasts, when I do listen to music, I pick my artist or pick a playlist. I can then skip forward, backward, fast forward, etc. That’s not possible with radio, I don’t care how HD it is. It’s no secret that radio is struggling in the US and I don’t see it going “HD” saving the industry. The one great use I do see for this technology is talk radio, news and sports. Being able to transmit extra information to someone’s radio while they listen to a news story or a football game could have potential. Imagine listening to your favorite college football team while driving somewhere and getting real time stats on the screen of your radio. That’s something I see people wanting.
You can find the Insignia NS-HD01 at Best Buy stores now.