HD Radio - The Other White Meat
First, let's get the uncomfortably "truthy" stuff out of the way. HD Radio doesn't have anything to do with HDTV, and it doesn't really have anything to do with "High Definition" in general. Instead, think of HD as being "Highly Digital." It is, in fact, a digital radio broadcasting scheme that simulcasts on the same frequencies as analog AM and FM radio stations. Its sound quality is probably better than your average AM or FM reception, which sucks. In some cases, an FM station also multicasts content that is exclusive to HD Radio, which is kind of cool.
Here's the good part - HD Radio doesn't cost you anything (aside from the cost of a radio). Unlike XM or Sirius, there are no monthly subscription fees. On the other hand, HD doesn't bring you 100+ channels of premium music. It's up to individual stations to decide if they want to add an HD transmitter. On balance, I give HD Radio a thumbs-up because the the world is a slightly better place because of it. Moreover, and best of all, HD gives us all an excuse to buy a new car.
Consider: HD Radio is an option on all BMWs; it is available on the new Jaguar XJ sedan; for the first time, Mercedes-Benz will offer HD Radio on three new diesel SUVs: R320, ML320 and GL320. Other notable new HD rides: the new Hyundai Genesis sport sedan; almost all new Ford and Mercury vehicles, almost all Volvos; select Mini and Scion models. So, to step up to digital radio sound quality, and stimulate the economy, I'd like you to buy a new car with an HD Radio receiver. I thank you, and your President thanks you. -Ken C. Pohlmann