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Digital Radio Recorders

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New devices to record any radio program, convert it into a digital format for listening or upload onto a PC:

    Like TiVo, the audio recorders will let customers fast-forward over commercials — although this isn’t a feature the industry is actively promoting.

    “What you do with it is your own doing and there’s nothing we can do to stop you,” said Bob Fullerton, director of marketing for one of the manufacturers, PoGo Products. “But the main use is not to skip commercials, but to record your favorite talk-radio show or the ball game you’re going to miss because you are at work.”

    Fullerton’s company has been taking orders for the Radio YourWay AM/FM recorder, which costs $150. It’s a palm-sized device that weighs 2.8 ounces and will arrive in computer stores later this month. The device is primarily a radio and program recorder that converts files into a digital format, Fullerton said. Secondly, it’s an MP3 player, he said.

    Digital Innovations, another manufacturer, plans to release an updated version of its Neuros MP3 digital audio recorder in September.

    While the current version of Neuros can record music on FM stations in real time, the upgrade will include a timer to record programs at any time. [Wired]

These devices record digitally, but the content is still analog.

    Some radio broadcasters plan to offer digital programming by using technology developed by a private company called iBiquity Digital. iBiquity’s high-definition radio technology enables broadcasters to use their current spectrum to offer both analog and digital signals. If a broadcaster were to adopt this technology, listeners would be able to hear a higher-quality digital signal if their radios were equipped to receive signals in the HD radio format.

    But as an iBiquity spokesman pointed out, HD radio was not approved by the FCC until October of last year, so hardly any radio stations are equipped to emit digital signals today. Adopting the technology is also purely voluntary, so there is no assurance that radio broadcasters will offer digital programming at all.

    So far, iBiquity has signed up 130 radio stations that will use the technology, although the company doesn’t expect a significant product rollout until the end of this year.

    “There’s always going to be that lag between licensing and starting to turn on the digital signals,” said Joe D’Angelo, director of business development for wireless data services at iBiquity. “We are in the first year of rollout.”

All of this raises still more legal questions regarding recording and sharing to further muddy the waters: good.

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