Reviews of the Insignia HD Radio Portable Player

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Reviews of the Insignia HD Radio Portable Player

Jul 19, 2009 12:33 PM

As the Insignia HD Radio Portable Player makes its way into consumer hands, lots of unit reviews are appearing online. We'll gather some and post links to others here.

Insignia NS-HD01 in Syracuse

By Vinny Lopez, CEV CBNT

I have to say, I have been interested in an HD Radio receiver for about a year now, although none seemed to fit what I was looking for. Being a broadcaster (I admit I''m a TV guy), I was interested in the new technology and from the few samples I had heard I was impressed with the quality of HD Radio. When I had found out that Best Buy had released a portable HD Radio receiver under its Insignia banner, I had to take a serious look.

The radio is the Insignia NS-HD01, and sells for $49.95. What you get for that is the radio, arm band that's nice for use in the gym, a set of inexpensive earbuds, and a USB-to-mini-USB charging cable. No ac charger is included with the unit. At the price point, I can see the decision not to include one with a portable unit. I have a mini USB 12V car charger for my cell phone, and it worked perfectly with the radio.

The radio is very compact. It is smaller than a standard deck of playing cards. It is an FM only radio, which is not a problem for me, as there is only one AM station in the area transmitting an HD Radio signal. It has a 128x128 pixel display that provides RBDS data if available, indicators for HD Radio status, tuning, battery, frequency and volume. There are 10 buttons on the radio that control its functions, as well as a thumbwheel for volume control, hold switch and reset button on the sides. The headphone jack is on the top. The headphone cable functions as the antenna. A non field-replaceable lithium-ion battery powers the unit.

After an initial full charge, the radio came on and within seconds locked the first HD Radio station I had tuned it to. Sensitivity was ok indoors, although it took a few seconds to lock some of the weaker and more distant signals. Sound quality was very good, and the headphone amp provided plenty of level. Outdoors, the radio performed better, although I couldn''t get any out-of-market digital signals. All signals in the market seemed to be available sans one, but it was showing full analog signal so I am assuming there was no digital carrier.

Overall, I am pleased with this radio, although my expectations for it were not very big, (hey, it''s only $50) and it works well for my uses. I think it would be a nice compact addition to any engineer's tool box for monitoring HD Radio signals.

Lopez is director of engineering of WSYT-TV/WNYS TV, Syracuse, NY.