Portable Radio and the digital area

Until fairly recently, it seemed that portable radios were slowly dying out as means by which to listen to music and news on the go. This was in no small part due to advances in mobile phone and MP3 player technology. A trend that could have signalled the loss of a primary means of discovering new music and tuning into the world, however, is being reversed as a result of digital broadcasting.

Digital radio offers a greater variety of stations, vastly improved reception and sound quality and a range of new features. Perhaps the greatest improvement is that of reception quality with digital broadcasting offering clear, interference free sound even on the move.

DAB (digital audio broadcasting) has been in operation in the UK for over 10 years but has only recently started to achieve significant coverage with some 85% of the population now able to receive it and with further coverage planned. Many major radio stations are now available in digital form including Classic FM, Virgin Radio and all of the national BBC stations. In addition, there are many stations that are ONLY available via DAB including the Asian Network, Radio 5Live Sports Extra and Capital Life to name but a few. Add to these a wide range of local stations and there should be something for everyone.

Tuning itself is a far simpler process than with older analogue sets, simply searching by station name as opposed to attempting (usually wrongly) to remember the local broadcasting frequency for a specific station. You can also store favourite DAB stations as presets with most models.

Whilst current DAB radios may offer some features similar to those found on older analogue models in terms of FM Tuners, CD players, remote control, you will also find a display of varying sizes in different DAB models. This allows you to benefit from the additional text information that is broadcast along with the audio transmissions; something that simply wasn`t present until DAB broadcasting. Information can include song titles, artists, news, phone numbers and so forth. The display will also show the station to which you are tuned. Many DAB models will have displays that scroll through this information automatically. Clearly display sizes and resolution varies but in general terms, the larger the display, the better.

Another key feature is live pause, similar to that found on many satellite TV systems. Some models will allow you to pause, rewind, record and play back DAB broadcasts; perfect if someone happens to ring the doorbell at just the wrong moment. Other features to consider include a TSB connector so that you can perhaps save programmes onto your PC or laptop, together with battery life and perhaps a rechargeable internal battery.

The range of portable DAB digital radios is enormous. Some of the popular models currently include the Pure Siesta Vl-60907 which is a clock radio from Pure, one of the longest established manufacturers of DAB radio; the Roberts Crd42, another clock radio from a long established manufacturer that even the analogue generation will recognise; and the Pure Digital Evoke-2xt Dab Digital Radio In an attractive Maple finish.

Whether you use other portable technology such as portable DVD players and MP3 players, there is little doubt that DAB radio is set to win the hearts, minds and ears of an ever growing audience.

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