Q and A: What's the deal with HD Radio?
Q. Can you provide some info about HD Radio? I have read about it but when I go to stores to learn more no one seems to know anything. Is the reception really superior and are there going to be a number of new stations added as they say?...
Q. Can you provide some info about HD Radio? I have read about it but when I go to stores to learn more no one seems to know anything. Is the reception really superior and are there going to be a number of new stations added as they say?
--P.S., Pittsburgh, Pa.
A. HD Radio allows the broadcaster (such as your local AM and FM stations) to add additional channels as well as news and information. This is accomplished by bundling a digital signal with their conventional analog broadcasts. The sound quality is noticeably better and has been described as comparable to CDs. If you have a CD player in your car you can play a CD then switch to an FM channel to get an idea of the difference.
I can't quantify if the reception is superior or not without explaining a bit more about how it works. The digital stream must be locked in for it to be played. When you have it locked in, the reception is definitely better than analog, but this signal lock can be disrupted by environmental conditions. If you have digital cable or satellite TV and have ever seen pixelization appear on the screen you have experienced loss of signal lock.
If your radio is HD Radio capable and you have HD Radio enabled it will default to the digital signal if it is available. If signal lock is lost and you are tuned to the broadcaster's main station, the radio will immediately switch to the corresponding analog signal automatically. With most radios the switch happens so quickly that you do not hear an interruption in the program, but some users have complained of their radios having a "pumping" effect to the sound as the radio switches from digital to analog and back to digital when siganl lock is lost. Most of these complaints were from owners of cars and trucks equipped with HD Radio as a moving vehicle is much more likely to lose signal lock than a stationary home receiver.
The pumping is caused by tiny volume differences between the analog and digital signals, as well as the perceivable difference in clarity between the two. I've seen many less complaints of this sort over the past year or so, even from vehicles owners. I attribute this to improvements in the radio receivers and the broadcasting technology itself.
You can learn more about HD Radio at www.hdradio.com , where you will also find a station guide. As the technology spreads you will see more channels added nationwide, and once you have a receiver you can enjoy HD Radio for free. There are no subscription or activation charges.
Q. I saw your column about removing burn-in images from an LCD flat panel TV. Will this same method work on a CRT projection TV? The TV has the TiVo logo burned in the corner and it is visible with blue and white screens.
A. Sorry, but it won't work on a CRT TV, or any other type of TV besides an LCD flat panel. With LCDs it is a "stuck pixel" rather than a burned-in image, and the process I described can help unstick the pixels. Your only option is to replace the CRT tubes, and this may prove cost-prohibitive, especially if the burn-in is not always visible.