Monday, July 13, 2009

Best Buy Takes HD Radio Portable

Is $49.99 cheap enough to entice consumers to buy a radio? Yes, a radio. Not an HD Radio (which of course it is)...just a radio. Look around, most people buy things that have radios in them...clock radios, car radios, home theater audio systems (stereos if you like), etc. Outside of radio enthusiasts when did "Sam and Sally Smith" last buy a standalone radio? Exactly. One notable thing missing from this unit is any kind of digital media storage. Seems like a no brainer, but I guess that addition would of killed the $49.99 price point. Here's the Engadget story.

Insignia NS-HD01: first-ever portable HD Radio on sale at Best Buy

Remember that first-ever portable HD Radio prototype we peeked back in May? Turns out Best Buy just let loose the real-deal, today announcing immediate availability of the Insignia NS-HD01. Needless to say, the big box retailer and supporters of HD Radio alike are hoping that this subscription-free player will finally put some much-needed wind behind the sails of the format, and while it's pretty simple in nature, the sub-$50 price tag could place it squarely in the "impulse buy" category. The relatively brief specs list includes a color LCD, rechargeable Li-ion battery, a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, a bundled armband and ten user-selectable preset memory channels. You can catch the full release after the break, and the player itself in your nearest Best Buy.


Anonymous said...

A much more telling writeup by Glenn Fleishman about this "portable" can be found here:

"iBiquity Forced to Build Own Portable Player"

"Companies like iBiquity that work with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), who product PC and consumer electronics gear nearly never get into the business of making their own branded devices because this kills the motivation for the firms they sell technology and reference design hardware to. The only reason a company gets into the business of making its own branded stuff is that they can't find a partner."

My guess is that iBiquity has burned a lot of the receiver manufacturers, after having to pay those hefty HD Radio licensing fees. So, it would appear that iBiquity has no "takers" on this portable. After reviewing Siport's documentation on their new chipset, it appears that it is still a power-hog, as is Samsung's HD chipset. My guess is that this "portable" will run for only a few hours on the rechargeable batteries. This thing isn't even an MP3 player, but it sure looks like the same KRI Armband Portable MP3 player that iBiquity displayed at CES 2009.... hmmmmm.

BTW - analog radio RDS/SCA services also supply tagging services, as does Twitter and TAGr. The extra HD Radio services, such as display information, is also done with analog RDS - nothing new, here.

Of course, as consumers have found out with the digital TV transition hoax, once the fragile HD Radio signals become too weak, this radio will not fade as analog radios, but will just drop to silence. That sould be quite a motivator for returns, as will the poor battery life. Why should I spend $50 for this, when good pocket analog radios sell for $10, where 2AA batteries last for 200 hours?

The HD chipsets are about $12/each, plus licensing fees to iBiquity, which should help HD Radio from becoming ubiquitous.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Insignia the Best Buy turd brand? If Sony, Samsung, Yamaha, Aiwa, etc passed on this, what should it tell you as a consumer?