I thought that Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Zune HD would be the first portable HD Radio unit for sale, but it wasn’t meant to be. Electronics retailer Best Buy (s bby) won the race that nobody is watching. Actually, at least one person was watching. Dave Zatz hopped over to his local Best Buy and dropped $50 to get an HD Radio for totable tunes. He bought an Insignia model, which is the “house brand” for Best Buy.
At $50, the NS-HD01 is more of a bare-bones device than a high-end portable. There’s no AC adapter included, for example. To charge the device, you connect it to a computer with the included USB cable. The included earbuds aren’t the highest quality, either. Using a set of third-party headphones might be hit or miss as well, based on Dave’s tests. He had to position the headphone jack just right in order for it to make the proper stereo connection. However, there is a nice armband included, making this a nice unit to accompany you during exercise.
Although I’m tempted, at $50, for higher-quality sound and a greater number of digital radio stations, I’m going to pass. If I could track my running activities with the NS-ND01, like I can with my iPhone (s AAPL), then maybe I’d drop the coin. For now, I’ll let Dave enjoy this one solo.
HD Radio has always appealed to me, but I’m thinking the opportunity for it is passing. I realize not everyone wants to carry a phone or a digital audio player with pre-loaded music, but there are so many other options today: Slacker, Pandora, and even satellite radio. More vehicles are getting configured with easy-to-use auxiliary jacks, USB ports and Bluetooth, too. Is it too late for HD Radio to become a major player?