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FM Radio for Your Pocket PC: PocketRADIO CF Card from iBIZ Technology
By Tong Zhang, December, 2002

Want to listen to the radio on your Pocket PC? Well, you are in luck! IBIZ Technology has come out with Pocket Radio Card that's an FM radio in CompactFlash card type I format. According to the CEO of iBIZ, the pocketRADIO is the first in a planned series of entertainment products centered on the PDA market. It supports all Pocket PCs with ARM or XScale processors and a CF type I or II (CompactFlash) card slot. We tested it on an iPAQ 3835.

Plug and Play

The pocketRADIO comes as a type I CF card with a headphone jack on the top of the card and a set of earphones. The installation is very simple: run the install program with your Pocket PC in the ActiveSync cradle. pocketRADIO icon will show up on your Pocket PC when the installation is complete. Click on it and you’ve just turned on the FM tuner.

The interface of pocketRADIO looks more like a car radio rather than the traditional radio tuner. There are two ways you can search the stations, one is by using the Auto search function and the other by manually click on the two directional buttons. There is a channel display above the directional buttons, so that you can see the station’s ID number.

Pocket Radio
The Auto select function allows you to ignore the weaker signals and stop at only the stations with good signal qualities. In my hands-on experience, the Auto function may have missed a couple of decent stations. So don’t expect this to be as sophisticated as your high quality home or car stereo. For those of you who are used to inputting numbers, you won’t find a place to punch the numbers. The good news is you only have to do this once, because pocketRADIO gives you plenty buttons with which to set your favorite stations.

All Your Favorite Tunes

There are 3 bands of pre-programmed station shortcuts with 6 buttons in each band. This means you can get up to 18 favorite stations with no more than two clicks. To set a program, simply hold on a button for a few seconds while you are listening to that station. The user interface is very simple and friendly.

Next to the pre-set buttons, there is a volume control slider as well as a Mute button below. In the right hand corner, you will find a Z button which functions as a power saving switch. Click on it, your iPAQ will be turned off without turning off your radio to save battery power on your iPAQ. You can run other applications simultaneously with pocketRADIO. The sound from other programs will come through the iPAQ speaker while you are listening on pocketRADIO.

The frequency of pocketRADIO ranges from 88Mhz to 108Mhz. The quality of the radio signal is decent in my area (Silicon Valley, CA) for stronger stations, but does have noticeable sound distortion and static for those stations with weaker broadcast. Outdoor reception quality is better than the indoor reception.

If you don’t like the stereo earplug headphones, you can try other headphones. I tried Sony MDR-V300 and MDR-24 headphones. They both work with pocketRADIO and the V300 sounds much better with more bass, since they're better headphones.



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