back to article Nokia Digital Radio Headset DAB

It’s not uncommon to find an FM radio on a smart phone these days. And while the iPhone has seen fit to do without such a thing, it’s a great way to get your music and news on the move, without the need for Wi-Fi connection or any drain on your data tariff. Nokia Digital Radio Headset DAB Tell-tale signals: Nokia's DAB headset …

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FAIL

But why

Is this not integrated into the phone, DAB has been around so long now, but they still put FM radio's in phones, if they want to improve the take up of DAB, then it has to start to be embedded into devices as standard, not an optional extra, who will pay for it? I mean £45! that is how much I paid for my Pure Digital Clock DAB Radio, I do think I would pay that for a phone add on.

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cost

FM receivers are commodity chips these days - the FM/FM transmit/bluetooth/gps etc combo chips available mean that it's probably cheaper to have a chip in the phone with an FM receiver than to find a chip without it. DAB chips are still expensive and power hungry - and most people probably wouldn't want to pay the premium for something they won't (or can't, given that DAB isn't available in all countries) use.

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Power Consumption

My understanding is that DAB radio signal takes far more power to process than an FM signal. Although that might have been a problem which has since been solved since DAB first came out.

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I'd like to see this work on a train

If you are a commuter, FM is the only option.

DAB (for most people) is a static option until the ERP is increased at the mast.

</anorak>

I'm sure this is fantastic if you don't live in the UK, but it's a shame you didn't give it a proper test in the usual environments for phone/radio listeners.

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Anonymous Coward

FM and these headphones

There is a pretty good reason why the FM cannot be sent to these headphones - it's analog. To get it to the headphones you would need to digitize it first, and the HW doesn't exist in the N8 or C7 to do this (or in any other phone AFAIK). The radio chip usually just sends analog to the jack - it's has never needed to digitise it before, so the HW has never been developed.

On the other hand, its perfectly possible to do it but you would need to redesign the hardware, and probably some of the chips in the device.

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True...

... and also AFAIK every phone with FM reception capability uses the headphone cable as the FM antenna, so even if you could digitise the FM audio to send it out the USB port and up to the headphones plugged into the DAB dongle, you'd still need a second set of headphones plugged directly into the phone. Which, admittedly, is less of an obstacle than the inability of almost (I think the Samsung Omnia can do it) all phones to digitise the FM audio in the first place, but it'd still be a bit of a pain even if you could redirect the audio.

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Anonymous Coward

Battery life?

Most (if not all) DAB radios eat up batteries for fun - smartphones aren't exactly renowned for long battery life either.

Wonder how long you get listening if like most people you leave 3G, Bluetooth and wireless on......

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Rovi?

The Roberts Rovi has been around for ages and will work on anything with an Apple dock connector.

I've had one for a while, and it's great if you're still. Not so good if you're moving around in an low to middling signal area.

My major criticism, and this applies to all DAB radios. The delay compared to analogue radios is awful. So it makes listening to TMS whilst watching the cricket at Lords a complete non starter.

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Silver badge

You beat me to it

I was going to say exactly the same. Sadly, my iPod died, so my Rovi is currently sitting on a shelf unloved while I listen to music and FM radio on my Android phone.

I'll take issue with the review, however. Quote - "Indeed, the more robust signal you tend to get on the move also makes up for any step down in sound quality" - Where the hell did you test this?

Whenever I try to listen on the move, the dropout rate and the bubbling mud problem from varying signal strength makes DAB impossible to listen to, especially for spoken word programmes. Try listening to a comedy show when you keep missing the punch-lines. I know I live out in the sticks, but I also have this problem travelling down the M5 within 10 miles of a major city with a correctly installed DAB radio specifically made for a car.

With FM, you get a hiss or maybe some distorted output, but you can follow a conversation. Try doing that when you completely loose the channel for seconds at a time.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for Digital Radio, and have five in total in the house and car, but until the transmitter power levels increase, I'll be listening to FM on the move.

BTW swisstoni. The delay is caused by the time it takes to digitise the audio at source and decode in your receiver. It's never going to go away regardless of what anybody tries to do. You could try buying a more expensive receiver, but there is no guaranteeing that it will have a faster processor in it, and would only address the decoding side. I'm afraid you will just have to learn to live with it.

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Battery life?

The complex processing has always meant that DAB is power-hungry. My Sony portable can eat 4xAA batteries in 8 hours.

What happens to the phones? what do nokia say happens?

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Almost tempted

I'm almost tempted to get one of these for my N8 as it would seem a reasonably cheap way of getting DAB into the car via the line in socket on the stereo (or even DAB->FM transmitter on the phone). Any ideas how well it would cope in a fast-moving car?

I also like the fact the remote has a 3.5mm headphone socket - the standard remote that comes with the N8 has the worlds most uncomfortable headphones (for my ears at least) but unfortunately they can't be interchanged.

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Robi Dab

This is not a new idea, there is a similar product for the Ipod / Iphone called the Robi Dab which works almost identically. I've had two of them over the last 3 years or so and couldn't live without it.

(Officially the product is not compatible with iphones, only ipods, but I use mine with my 3g every day with no problem whatsoever.)

Leona - the reason no phones have DAB Chips is that they are local to the UK and parts of Europe - sad but true

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Jobs Horns

The reason the iPhone doesn't have a radio...

Is that having a radio would mean users could listen to music without buying it from iTunes!

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Title

Nice to see a review that is positive towards DAB on the move. I've been using a Roberts robi for a couple of years now plugged into my iPhone and the convenience and flexibility of listening to DAB on the train almost makes the commute bearable.

I must admit the ability to control the readio from the phone like this Nokia device would be nice as the robi is completely self-contained, drawing only power from the iDevice.

Shame it's only for those Nokias though, and the robi only for iPods etc. Whatever happened to the nanoDAB (http://www.engadget.com/2008/02/10/nanodab-portable-dab-meets-bluetooth/) or something similar?

And why can't they increase the DAB levels so that they're a reasonable fraction of the FM levels? Or use DAB+ etc etc. One feels there is a concerted effort to get people to NOT listen to DAB for some reason.

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The answer to Why?

Very simple: DAB radios take surprisingly large amounts of power to run, and the phone's battery life would drop to minuscule values. FM radios take very little power.

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Anonymous Coward

If they had bundled this at release I might have a better opinion of my N8

When I saw the DAB app appear for download on my N8 I was quite excited at being able to get DAB in my car via my phone and it's FM transmitter. Finally I thought, a really decent app, thanks Nokia. When I saw that I had to buy a set of DAB headphones at £45 I was very disappointed. - I don't want DAB in my car that much otherwise I'd have stumped up for a Pure Highway. If Nokia are in crisis then it is perhaps these kind of innovations that they need to be bundling in to keep consumers purchasing their handsets. I was given a free N8 to trial, I have found it to be a very poor phone.... Really buggy, still no decent Symbian apps, poor battery life, the browser, the keyboard, the convoluted menu structure, did I say it was really buggy? If I had purchased one I would be very unhappy.

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Anonymous Coward

DAB is not power hungry any more

DAB chipset power is now on par with FM, and will soon drop below...:

(final paragraph here:)

http://www.garfors.com/2011/01/dab-vs-fm-on-power-consumption.html

J

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Anonymous Coward

It is not just that though

I read the article, and I don't believe the headline claim re the FM v DAB chips. I'd like to see a direct comparison between the lowest power FM (only) and the lowest power DAB.

However, for me, the biggest issue is that I prefer the quality of FM. DAB (with the crap over compressed codecs used to squeeze more channels in) just doesn't come up to scratch for quality I'm afraid.

I'm not impressed by having 101 channels of rubbish, I'd much prefer a few I can listen to.

Just my opinion and no offence to DAB lovers. :-)

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Not quite...

Remember, the HTC Monet. Sold as the Virgin Lobster TV.

Ignore the "no channels found, would you like to retune" on launching the TV/Radio app, and hit Radio Guide.

Yes, the TV side was a bit of a massive flop, and it doesn't make a particularly great phone (200MHz TI processor w/ 64MB RAM is positively anorexic these days for a smartphone).

But mine was quite happily receiving 6Music on Monday, as I walked into work.

As long as I avoid the underpass...

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Stop

85% “of the UK's population” covered …

… does not mean 85% of the UK is covered. I guess it means that the residences of 85% of the population have coverage (or does it take in to accounts the locations of everyone on the move as well? ;)

In general, while I'm travelling, I don't spend much of my time in somebody's house, so using that figure as an indicator of likely coverage while travelling is disingenuous at best.

Having said that, DAB in the car works very well in general for me. It also falls back to FM when the DAB signal fails, as long as there is an FM signal of the same station available, which is great apart from the fact that the audio isn't synchronized between the two (the device should buffer the FM to synchronise with the DAB, but I guess they thought it wasn't worth bothering (or it was too hard))! That does have a higher gain antenna than this device, I imagine, as well as the ability to draw a lot more power, both of which probably help it hold on to reception in marginal areas.

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Train commute

@Andy 97 - probably depends on where you commute to & from.

I have a Pure PocketDAB which I use on my way to & from work (Ilkley to Bradford) and it's great!

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Len
Happy

Appears to support DAB+ as well

The excellent WohnOrt have done some digging and it turns out that this set support DAB+ as well as the old DAB. http://www.wohnort.org/DAB/

Quite handy if you would also like to use it in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Malta, Hong Kong, Malaysia etc. etc.

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Headmaster

Ah.

That would be especially handy if you spoke Strine, Danish, Swedish, (4languages), German, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Czech, Funny English, Cantonese, Malay, etc, etc.

I'll get me language lab disks

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Coat

Nokia Digital Radio Headset DAB

I appear to have had a stroke, or something.

I keep reading that as "Nokia Hospital Radio Headset DAB"

Must be the headset associations.

Oh look, here comes someone with a white coat...

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Coat

shame

Shame, it all sounds great until you see that the big cans have gone, as has the three foot extendable aerial on the side of your head, and the twisty volume and tuning switches built onto the headphones.

Bring back the eighties, eh, some things just can't be improved on.

;-)

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Anonymous Coward

DAB Radio

Since 90% of the extra stations on DAB are pop of one sort or another - what's the point?

Our DAB radio got dumped in the bathroom where it goes through a set of rechargeables in five days - waste of time and money.

For my IPOD I've got a Blueye - vastly underrated.

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Choice, dear AC, choice.

Person A wants to listen to pop music and likes the typical assortment of tunes played on radio station X. Person B also wants to listen to pop music but can't stand the presenters on station X, so tunes into station Y instead. Person C doesn't really care about the presenters on either station X or Y, but prefers to listen to certain types of pop music which don't get played often enough for their liking on those two stations, so ends up listening to station Z instead. And so on.

Oh, and even if only 10% of the extra stations are non-pop (and I suspect the number might be a bit higher than that, thinking about the stations I see listed when I scroll through the list) there's still enough diversity amongst these stations to make DAB worthwhile on their own.

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in-car DAB

this is how we should get DAB into cars, which is where a lot of radio listening takes place and is a must-do before audio digital switchover can be considered .

don't do legislation to force carmakers into installing DAB instead of FM in the dashboard. Understand that (nearly) every driver carries a mobile, change the in-car stereo into a universal phone interface and have these inline.

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Does it record?

I'd pay good money for a DAB digital recorder. I've already paid bad money for a couple of them. My Evoke 3 takes SD cards up to 1 GB (no longer available most places), allows USB 1 connection, and randomly sets its clock for timed recordings up to about a minute slow, which you can't override, although someone on the BBC Radio 4 forums told me that if you connect power and switch on starting -exactly- at real time xx:xx:53 (conveniently I have a radio controlled wall clock), it will be set to 11 seconds slow, which is as good as you can get. Until it wanders off again.

You can get a self-contained DAB listening radio for a similar price to the Nokia dangly bit, or less - I often wear a Tesco one on a neck cord.

You can get an FM radio including headphones in Poundland, in Poundworld, and probably other similar places - i.e. for one pound.

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