dab digital radio

DAB meets iPod – A Love Affair?

It’s been the get-together we’ve all wanted to see, and now it’s official – the iPod and DAB shall come together.

Of course, it’s not quite the integrated union we would really have liked, but I guess it was always going to be a long-shot that Apple would integrate DAB into a device that has sold 100m units, compared to “just” 5m DAB Digital Radios.

So what we have is a sidecar, a clip on. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly didn’t hinder the popularity of iTrip. It’s a tremendous development, and I predict it will sell very well (assuming the retail price and distribution are right). And I expect there will be surprise that the manufacturer are Roberts Radio, who have generally favoured traditional leather bound radios (although I would think there’s been some coaxing behind their decision to produce this product).

What I am very disappointed by is Apple’s reluctance to allow some of the cleverer DAB stuff to happen. Maybe the only way to get Apple to licence the add-on was to persuade them that it was no more threatening to their business model than an FM Radio (either integrated or clipped on). Regardless, your iPod clip-on will be missing Text Information (DLS) and it will be missing Slideshow visuals, which I suspect will disappoint quite a few potential early purchasers.

There’s a deep irony in this. Text information has been on virtually 100% of all DAB Digital Radios ever produced (even the first prototype DAB receivers had text), and the industry has built genuine interest in consumers in text content and slideshow, but the iPod plug in won’t support them, even though iPods have lush colour screens. Two steps forward, one step back I guess.

If you’re not a slave to the Jobs machine (and I’m not), then I recommend hanging on in there just a little longer to get your hands on the iRiver B20. I’ve got one in final debugging stages, and it’s a very nice device. I’ll do a review once it’s cleared final hurdles and is heading to the shops, but if you’re toying up with how to converge your digital media life, then this is by far the best starting point I’ve seen in a very long while.

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