Sunday, May 13, 2012

Want to try HD radio?

CowBoom is selling a HD boombox for $25:

I listen to portable HD radio with headphones all the time, 7/24, like right now writing this blog at midnight. The great thing about it is steady, noise-free reception, unlike FM that you hear noise and statics even when you turn your head just a little bit. Insignia is by far the only option and, unfortunately, its products suck.

I bought my first Insignia NS-HD01 several years ago. It is actually pretty good: good sound, good reception and good battery life. Buttons are easy for changing stations. However, there is a huge problem: it crashes all the time and each time I have to push the reset button. I have to drill and enlarge the reset hole so I can use the headphone plug to push the button. What a pain in the ass!

I thought it might be a defective unit and I bought the second one on ebay. Exactly the same, it crashes as often if not even more!

They have lost presets few times and I had to re-scan channels and store them. This is fine to live with, but I think I should point it out so you know how crappy this company is.

So, I bought the new version NS-HD02. What a mistake again! The touch screen is very difficult to use. No, I was not expecting something like the iPhone. It is a PITA to change channels, so is to mute - I'd rather turn it off other than muting it. It runs hot and battery lasts only about 5 hours. Now the deal break: reception is too poor to get my favorite stations.

I want this boombox, especially at this price, but should I bother, again?

Why only Insignia is making portable HD radios? Where is Sony, Panasonic and Philips?

[update] Newer batches of NS-HD01 come with newer firmware version 04.00.14. This version no longer crashes. eBay is the best place to buy this HD radio, usually for half the price in BestBuy, i.e., about $20. You may ask the seller to check the version for you:

Power the radio on, press the M button, press the "V" button to highlight "3. Version", press the "()" button. Then you see something like this on the screen:

-= Version =-

The old version that crashes looks like this:

-= Version =-

[update] I was happy with the 04.00.14 and about to buy another one (so I can use one while charging the other), then a serious bug surfaced. This bug has happened twice now. The first time, I plugged in the USB charger and got no sound. Everything seems working fine, just no any sound. I did a reset, messed with buttons and somehow got the sound back. Last night this happened again, and no matter what I tried, no sound, I even did a factory default. I left it charged overnight and turned it on this morning, bingo, everything works fine including sound. If you google for "NS-HD01 no sound", you'll see many users have this problem.

[update] Happened again. Last night I plugged into USB to charge it, it made huge noise to headphones. I unplugged the headphones and left it overnight. This morning, it was powered off by itself. I turned it on, no audio. I turned it off, then turned it on, audio is back.

[update] The 04.00.14 unit has been losing audio too often and very hard, if possible at all, to recover. Useless junk. Back to the old 01.00.00 units, at least I can reset them when crash to continue to listen.

1 comment:

  1. I have bought 8 Insignia HD radios, 5 of which broke down after 2 or 3 months. The defectives: one HD01, one boombox, two HDRADs, and one Narrator model. Insignia is the only brand making the portable HD, and we Seattle radio listeners have lost our access Fresh Air, On Point, and Diane Rehm, now that KXOT FM has been shuttered.