Checklist for Buying an HD Radio

If you’re thinking about buying an HD radio, here is a checklist of things to think about before making a purchase.

1. How do you intend to use the radio? If you’ll be using it in your bedroom as a clock radio or in the kitchen, you probably won’t care about stereo sound. This means you can choose from a number of tabletop HD radios, such as the Radiosophy HD100, the Accurian from RadioShack, or the Sangean HdR-1, to name a few.

If you will be using your HD radio in an office, home office, or entertainment room, you may want to choose a radio that has separate speakers for stereo listening. Examples of HD radios with either separate speakers or an optional second speaker include the Dice Electronics’ iTR-100, The Insignia Bookshelf System from Best Buy, and the Boston Acoustics Receptor Radio HD.

2. Second, where will you physically place the radio? Most of the compact HD radios come with a telescopic FM antenna. If you are going to place the radio out in the open where it will be easy to move the antenna around, then a telescoping antenna will work fine. However, if you, like me, intend to put it in a bookcase or an entertainment center, you may want to choose an HD radio with a separate FM antenna so you can move the antenna around for the best reception. Also, do note that most HD radios require a separate antenna for AM radio. So, again, this might dictate your choice of radios.

3. How much should you spend for HD radio? There are HD radios available for as much as $500 and as little as $99.95. If you intend to use the radio as a clock radio or as a kitchen radio, you can probably go on the lower end. If you intend to use it in your office or an entertainment room, you may want to spend something around $200-$250 – to get a more “quality” look. However, it is important to understand that HD radio is HD radio, and spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean better sound. If possible, listen to radios from several different manufacturers before you buy.

4. Check to see what kind of reception you can expect. Broadcasters divide their signal range into three categories: Local coverage, distant coverage and fringe coverage.

An HD capable radio should get reliable digital signals in the local coverage area, and may get digital signals in distant coverage areas, depending on the environment. Radios in fringe areas usually don’t receive digital signals, because unlike a traditional analog signal that fades out as you travel away from it, digital will simply disappear when the signal isn’t strong enough.

For this reason, it is important that you determine which coverage area you are in for your favorite stations before you buy to ensure that you will actually be able to enjoy HD radio.

5. Finally, where will you listen to HD radio most? If you’re typical, the vast majority of your radio listening will be in your automobile. If this is the case, then you will want an HD car radio system. There are several of these available at reasonable prices from manufacturers such as Sony and JVC.

Digital HD is a new, fun technology, what with its crystal-clear sound and HD2 channels, especially if you select the right receiver.