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The price of HD Radio technology has been dwindling over the past few years, with digital-capable car stereos, home tuners, and clock radios priced south of $100. But Insignia's new NS-HD01 adds two new wrinkles to the HD Radio equation. The iPod-size unit is the first truly portable (battery powered) HD Radio, and its $50 price tag makes it the most affordable HD model to date. It's now available exclusively at Best Buy (Insignia is one of the chain's in-house brands).
While it may look like an old MP3 player, the NS-HD01 is strictly a radio tuner that can pull in analog and HD (Hybrid Digital) stations on the FM band. There are 10 user-programmable presets. A sealed (not user-replaceable) rechargeable lithium ion battery powers the radio. What's good is that the recharging port is a standard Mini-USB connection (USB cable included). That means you can juice up the battery from any PC or USB charger. Like the iPod, a wall charger isn't included, but any USB-compatible iPod charger should work.
In addition to the charging cable and requisite pair of subpar earbuds, joggers will appreciate that Insignia includes a Velcro armband in the box. There's no belt clip, but the NS-HD01 will fit into any pocket, and the hold switch on the unit's side will prevent inadvertent button pushes.
The body of the HD01 is a tapered wedge that weighs a mere 2.24 ounces. At 3.07 inches by 2.06 inches by 0.63 inches, the radio is larger than many of today's flash-based music players, but it's smaller than an iPod Classic. The unit's front is dominated by the 1.5-inch color LCD screen that's ringed by nine basic control buttons. That's a lot for such a one-note device, but it lets you tune frequencies manually, seek available stations up and down the dial, or toggle up or down through your presets. A rocker switch on the right side controls volume and mute.