How Easy Is It to Buy a Digital Radio?
     

Some of the DAB receivers on sale at the Saturn store in the Leipzig railway station.
LEIPZIG, Germany — Almost any conference or seminar that focuses on digital radio will inform you that there are various digital receivers currently on the market.

Many consumers, on the other hand, mainly from still-analog countries, have experienced the contrary — when asking for a digital radio, they notice that shop assistants often become puzzled. Who's right?

We ran a small test in Germany to find out.

While in Leipzig to attend the WorldDMB General Assembly, we went to several shops to check which, if any, models were available.

The first stop was at Conrad, located at Neumarkt 20. Surprise! Eleven different models from such manufacturers as Philips, Dual, Albrecht, Pure, Noxon and Sony were on sale. The receivers ranged from battery-powered portable versions to boom boxes featuring CD players too. The least expensive one was an entry-level model from Pure, specially priced at 33 euros. Receivers from Philips started at 43 euros, while Noxon, Sony and Albrecht offered digital products starting at 75 euros. A model from Dual that featured a CD player was tagged at 99 Euros. At the upper end we found the stylish Pure Evoke, glamorously shaped as a mini Marshall amp that cost a little under 200 euros.

A few steps ahead, we entered Cyberport, Neumarkt 29. Just after hearing the words “DAB,” Robert, the shop assistant, smiled and said: “I'm so sorry, at present we only have one model, but tomorrow this entire shelf (pointing to the one in question) will be filled with digital radios. Not too many people ask for them, but we believe that digital radios will soon become very popular,” he said. The one available model was the same Sony we found at Conrad, at exactly at the same price.

No luck at Gravis, Neumarkt 29, a consumer electronics store that is also an Apple Store. No digital radio was available there.

Karstadt, Neumarkt 30, is a large five-floor department store. The multimedia department is on the fourth floor, and fulfilling its role as a general-purpose department store, it did not disappoint us: we found two models, a Sony and an Albrecht, at 70 euros each. In addition we also noticed a compact Sony Hi-Fi set with a DAB tuner and separate speakers priced 229 euros. Not bad, considering that the corresponding model without the DAB tuner costs 199 euros.

Our last stop was Leipzig Bahnhof. As we entered the large Saturn store located inside the train station, we realized that we discovered the house of digital radio! We were not able to count all the digital radios on the shelves;in fact, all of the radios pictured in the photo are DAB receivers. There were also many others crowded in the back of that shelf, and on the corner shelf there were also several Hi-Fi sets with CD player and separate speakers featuring a DAB tuner. While in the store, we noticed several shoppers came in to ask the sales people for information about digital radio receivers and programming.

In conclusion, DAB receivers do actually exist, and it is not so difficult to find them. Prices begin at about 30 euros for a standard model, while handy, battery-powered receivers start at approximately 50 euros. As usual, devices with a very glam design are proportionally more expensive. If you want to shop online, try the Conrad e-shop: in early December nearly 100 different models starting at about 33 euros were available.

— Davide Moro

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