So you’ve decided you’re ready to invest in an HD radio receiver, tuner or tabletop radio. Off you to go your local BestBuy, Circuit City or audio dealer. “Hello,” you say. I’d like to buy an HD radio.”
At this time you may get more of a blank look than helpful information.
Why? It’s because HD radio is here but not entirely here.
You can hear HD or digital radio on nine or more stations in my area but you’d be hard pressed to buy an HD radio receiver or tuner. The simple reason for this is that there still just aren’t that many companies manufacturing HD radio receivers.
Boston Acoustics makes a nice HD radio receiver that fits on a tabletop and is called the HD Recepter™ Radio. And Radiosophy expects to have its HD Radio receiver, the Radiosophy Multistream™ tabletop radio, available in early December. Polk Audio also announced an HD tabletop radio last summer but has provided no launch date. There are also a few high-end tuners available from Yamaha, ADA and Day-Seguerra.
The good news is that there are a variety of HD Radio car radios available from just about all the usual suspects – Panasonic, JVC, Alpine, Sanyo and Kenwood.
Basically what we have here is the old chicken and egg dilemma. . Electronics manufacturers are skittish about producing a whole slew of HD radios until they believe the demand justifies it. But demand remains weak because there are so few HD radios available and the ones that are available tend to be pricey.
What’s a consumer to do?
You need to ask that clerk about HD radio and if you get a blank look, do some educating. Explain that HD radio is the next, big thing – pure, crystal clear radio over the airwaves – free to all. Emphasize how HD makes AM sound like FM and FM sound like you were listening to a CD. Point out that many car radio manufacturers offer HD radios and that there are HD radio stations already broadcasting – probably right in your area. Be sure to also point out that HD radio makes multicasting possible so that consumers will soon have more choices than ever. And don’t forget that HD radio makes text messaging possible so that your radio could actually send you weather and traffic reports.
A consortium of broadcasting companies is planning to launch an HD Radio public-awareness campaign this fall. In the meantime, it may be up to you to educate your local consumer electronics retailer.