After a bazillion year hiatus, I’ve rejoined the gym. And find myself in need of a portable FM radio to tune the evening news or Sports Center from facility flat panel televisions while on the hamster wheel cardio devices. As we know, Apple would prefer to sell iTunes and thus refuses to incorporate a FM tuner into their iPod or iPhone lineup. Accessories can be had for about $50 but, unlike Mr. Tofel, I prefer to keep my 3GS out of harms way.
So when Engadget blogged the new Insignia NS-HD01 ($50) potable radio today, the first of its kind, I printed out a $10 Reward Zone coupon and picked one up. Not only does it handle traditional FM reception duties, it also pulls in the newer (and free) digital “HD Radio” broadcasts. HD Radio hasn’t really caught on – most folks don’t seem to know or care. But for $50, I figured what the heck.
As expected, the bundled ear buds don’t sound very rich and aren’t very comfortable. Unfortunately, my two pair of iPhone earbuds (one Griffin, one Apple) don’t provide stereo sound when fully inserted – possibly due to how the little metal thingy lines up in the jack given the extra mic contact. (We’re in the midst of packing for a move and my Shures are MIA.) But from what I can tell, given a little jiggling, the sound quality is pretty good when tuned to an HD station.
The NS-HD01 incorporates a rechargeable battery, which is nice. Not bundling an AC adapter is less nice. A USB cable is provided, so you can charge via computer or the wall if you have an adapter. But I’m surprised one wasn’t included. On the other end of the spectrum, an armband is included. I’ll never use it, but it’s a nice perk for a gadget that won’t have a marketplace full of accessories.
It’s a cute little device. Plasticy and fingerprint prone, but mostly attractive, relatively compact, and quite lightweight. Plus the display and info is much better than I expected – especially at this price point. All that’s left now is to figure out how to preset my channel favorites… which isn’t the most intuitive process as discovered by Falcone over at CNET.
Click to enlarge: