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HD Radio Enters Headphone-Portable Era

7/13/2009 12:16:17 PM Eastern

Minneapolis
- The HD Digital Radio Alliance
is supporting the launch of the country's first headphone-type portable HD
Radio with a
pair of radio spots
on more than 100 stations in the top 100 radio markets.

Select local stations in the top 10 markets will run promotions
giving away the portables later this month and in August, added HD Radio
developer iBiquity Digital.

The headphone-style HD Radio was launched by Best Buy in most of
its stores this week under its Insignia
brand at $49.99, iBiquity said.

The Insignia model, however, won't be the only HD Radio option that
the Alliance
will promote for on-the-go music listeners. The Alliance plans radio ads to support the fall launch
of Microsoft's next-generation
Zune
portable media player (PMP), iBiquity said. The new Zune will be Microsoft's
first Zune with HD Radio, touchscreen, full Web browser and HD video storage.
The new Zune was the first headphone-type portable HD Radio to be announced
back in May.

The Best Buy model is an FM-only model that delivers multicast FM
stations and comes with rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivering up to 10
hours of playing time. The 3.07-inch by 2.06-inch by 0.63-inch device is
bundled with ear buds and armband and features 1.5-inch color LCD display to
display song metadata. It doesn't feature iTunes Tagging, which lets users "tag"
a broadcast song, storing the song's title and artist information to facilitate
later PC downloading of the title.

Other features of the Insignia model include 10 user-selectable
station presets, 3.5mm output jack for headphones or playback through connected
stereo systems, and water-resistant case.

The planned Zune, in contrast, is a full-fledged PMP that, like
its predecessor, stores downloaded music and video in memory. The new Zune will
also feature the ability to tag broadcast songs for later downloading from the
Zune web site. The Zune will also receive multicast FM stations.

At least one company, Coby, offers a portable tabletop HD Radio
with rechargeable battery. It features AM/FM playback and mono speaker.

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