Thursday, September 3, 2009

All-in-one AUDIOBIQUITY L-900: Radio, iPod, Zune, Web, Satellite Gamechanger

Hallelujah! That’s all I can say about the new Audiobiquity L-900 portable media device. Finally, a consumer electronics designer has created a product with solely the end user (the consumer in “consumer electronics”) in mind. I’ve just had a sneak preview of this $300 wonder that will be available in time for the holidays from the geniuses at AuralVix GmbH. I not-so-daringly predict that the L-900 will be a gamechanger for terrestrial radio, iPods, Zunes, and for just about every other form of audio entertainment (other than maybe your uncle telling old jokes).

Rather than a single audio broadcast medium, the all-in-one Audiobiquity allows the discriminating listener to tune in AM radio (for ballgames and talk); FM radio (for music and local NPR); HD Radio (for better FM sound and subchannels, often with commercial-free, specialized content); web radio (via wifi for Pandora and the infinite number of web-based audio options—including streaming signals from distant stations); and Sirius (for Howard Stern and other offerings from Radio Sputnik—paid subscription required, ‘natch). Plus, the Audiobiquity includes an mp3 player (with 60 gigs of memory in the L-900) and, in a brilliant move, a TiVo-like "audio DVR" feature called “Deja V.U.” allowing easy recording and storage of hundreds of hours of radio programs for playback later (with fast forward and rewind, commercial skipping, etc.).

Another cool feature called "BroadPod" is not yet available on the Audiobiquity L-900 (but is planned for the L-950, which is scheduled to be released next year—and, I'm told, will also likely be available as a firmware update on the L-900). BroadPod is awaiting FCC approval, availability of additional bandwidth and broadcaster consensus on technical standards. Once enabled, a listener tuned in to a live terrestrial broadcast of, say, Rush Limbaugh or All Things Considered, will, at the touch of the BroadPod button, automatically schedule a free download of an mp3 of the program. Depending on transmitter proximity and sophistication of encoders used by your local station, downloads will typically take place within minutes of the program’s conclusion (or right away if the "live" program was actually taped earlier).

For those of us who regularly cart around an armload of audio entertainment devices to satisfy our diverse habits, the Audiobiquity is an answer to our prayers. The L-900 retails for $299, and includes earbuds and a USB charger. The unit is a little heavy at roughly 13 ounces, and the vinyl carrying pouch that's supplied feels a tad downmarket. (The generic accessory makers are sure to start offering better furniture for the L-900 and its siblings before too long.) Available autumn 2009 from Amazon, J&R and several other online retailers.

No comments:

Post a Comment