Radio digitale: in Australia scelto il DAB+. Ma i ricevitori latitano. Nel resto nel mondo galoppa la radio su cellulari e smartphone

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Continua la navigazione, senza definitivo approdo, della radio digitale nel mondo. Questa volta si parla di Australia, dove la tecnologia prescelta pare essere il DAB+, che ovviamente si affianca alla sempreverde FM (nessuno, sul pianeta, si permette di definirla "vecchia", visto che è chiaro che ci accompagnerà almeno per un altro paio di decenni). Il problema nella terra dei canguri, però, è lo stesso che ha interessato tutte le tecnologie radiofoniche digitali che sono state testate anche nel nostro Paese: i ricevitori. Pare infatti che anche lì si fatichi a trovarli nei negozi. Intanto, però, pressoché ovunque nel mondo, i cellulari e smartphone stanno diventando ricevitori radio e, come abbiamo avuto modo più volte di scrivere, tranne sporadici allestimenti con HD Radio o DMB-T, essi consentono di ricevere le stazioni presenti sul web e in modulazione di frequenza. Lasciando così perplessi gli operatori sull’opportunità di investire pesantemente in infrastrutture diffusive ad hoc, quando già sono presenti e consolidate le piattaforme della telefonia. Dell’evento australiano diamo conto attraverso il consueto pezzo di Andrea Lawendel di Radio Passioni. "Il 4 maggio a Perth l’Australia delle radio commerciali ha acceso i primi multiplex DAB+ della transizione alla radio digitale. Brisbane si è accodata il 25. Il 30 sarà la volta di Sydney. Il comunicato ufficiale di Commercial Radio Australia parla di momento storico, il tono è da sbarco sul pianeta marte. Il DAB+ non sostituisce (per ora) l’FM, ma ovviamente gli sguardi di tutti gli operatori del settore sono puntati sul pubblico australiano. La cosa che dovrebbe interessare di più a questi operatori è la disponibilità di ricevitori, e il loro prezzo. La testata australiana Smarthouse annuncia che solo Pure avrebbe lanciato 11 nuovi modelli DAB+. Ma la cronaca del giornalista del Brisbane Times che ha girato per negozi proprio a Perth, rivela un quadro un po’ diverso, fatto di negozi periferici che non solo non hanno radio digitali in magazzino, ma che ancora non hanno avuto richieste da parte di potenziali acquirenti. Nelle zone centrali della città va un po’ meglio, ma di radio digitali nei retrobottega ce ne sono pochine e le poche disponibili costano dieci volte più degli apparecchi analogici e soprattutto mancano le autoradio (certo non sarà un problema in una nazione angusta come l’Australia)".

Waiting for a fine-tune

May 28, 2009 Would-be early adopter Rod Easdown goes shopping for a digital radio.

digitalradio lifeandstyle lead300  300x133 2 - Radio digitale: in Australia scelto il DAB+. Ma i ricevitori latitano. Nel resto nel mondo galoppa la radio su cellulari e smartphoneWay out west, history was made on May 4 when Perth became the first Australian city to crank up digital radio. Melbourne followed a week later, then Adelaide. Brisbane starts on May 25 and Sydney on May 30.
I was in Perth this week, so I cruised the electronics shops to see how enthusiastically Australia’s most experienced digital radio audience was embracing what Commercial Radio Australia calls its "historic first".
I started at a suburban Tandy shop – where they had no stock. I asked if they’d had many inquiries. "You’re it," I was told.
At a much larger Dick Smith shop they were full bottle on the subject and, yes, lots of people had been asking. The salesman gave me the best explanation of digital radio I’ve heard and was genuinely excited about it. But he had no stock either. "There are lots of generic brands around at the moment," he said darkly. "We’re waiting for the market to sort itself."
Around the corner, the Good Guys had a single digital radio on display, a Revo at $249. The only problem was that it was next to a better-looking Sony AM/FM radio that was almost as big and cost $39.
This didn’t faze the salesman. He launched into an explanation of digital radio and ran out of steam only when I asked why ABC stations weren’t available yet. He assured me they’d have more stock by the time Radio National came on stream.
At Retravision there were two on display, a Pure at $249 and a Sangean at $599, but the salesman knew nothing much about them except that all the stations were listed on the screen and you just scrolled down to the one you wanted. I asked about the ABC and he immediately offered me a $100 discount.
At Harvey Norman they had six: three Roberts, two Pures and a Revo that, at $299, was $50 up on the same model at the Good Guys. I played with all of them, but only one seemed capable of receiving a signal, the others giving a "Station not available" message. Meanwhile, every member of the sales staff avoided me. I left.
Over at Rick Hart (Perth’s equivalent of Clive Peeters), I came across a salesman talking to a customer about digital radios. Well, he was reading the features aloud from the back of the box, anyway. I asked why I should buy a digital rather than a conventional radio, and the customer answered all my questions; a look of contented mystery was on the face of the staffer.
The only thing he knew was that sound quality was better, so I asked to hear one. "Um," he said. "This is first time I’ve touched one." He poked and prodded for a couple of minutes until I could contain myself no longer, and tuned it for him. "It does sound pretty good, doesn’t it?" he said, delighted.
The only thing they’d done right at Rick Hart was to separate the digital radios from the conventional radios so the breathtaking digital prices were a little less obvious. Maybe someone there knew a thing or two, but that person was nowhere in our vicinity.
To summarise, then. The best salesman of the lot had nothing to sell, the salespeople with the best stock charged too much and didn’t want to sell it anyway, and the only customer I met knew so much more about the subject than the salesman that it all got kind of embarrassing.
It was reminiscent of the launch of digital television back in January 2001 when finding a salesperson who knew anything about digital set-top boxes was a feat exceeded only by finding one with stock to sell.
As the man at the Good Guys assured me: "Normal old analog radio is going to be around for a long, long time yet – don’t worry about that."

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