Tivoli Audio: HD Radio? Now It’s “Maybe”

June 28, 2006

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Last year it was almost a firm “no.” This year it’s a definite “maybe.” Will Tivoli Audio, maker of classy-looking, high-tech table and portable radios, support HD Radio technology? Company founder and CEO Tom DeVesto took a wait-and-see attitude June 21 even as he showed off an HD Radio prototype that could be in production by the end of the year.

“I’ve been maybe more skeptical than most people in the business have been about it,” said DeVesto during a press conference at New York’s St. Regis Hotel. “The consumer benefits of it are still somewhat questionable.”

HD Radio is a digital radio technology which allows existing radio stations to broadcast high-quality digital radio content by using unused portions of their existing bandwidth. According to iBiquity Digital Corp., which developed and licenses HD Radio technology, HD Radio improves AM reception to the quality of today’s conventional FM broadcasts while an HD Radio’s FM clarity would be at CD quality.

DeVesto said HD Radio technology “had some maturing to do” before he would be sold on it. He said he wanted to see more content, better internal hardware choices and better audio quality. However, her said if all of these pieces were to fall in place, Tivoli Audio had already done its homework and could have an HD Radio-compatible unit ready by the holiday season. A prototype (pictured above) was shown off at the press conference.

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During his presentation DeVesto introduced a unit whose whimsical code name ended up being its real name: the Tivoli Audio iYiYi. The $299.99 unit (pictured at right), which comes in black or white, is a docking station for Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod digital music players but also contains an AM/FM radio as well as inputs for other devices such as CD players or game consoles. The iYiYi comes with seven docking adapters, making it compatible with a wide range of iPods, including the full size, video-capable iPod and the extra-slim iPod nano.

“I hope the public doesn’t think that having fun while we do what we do is a bad thing,” said DeVesto, who said the iYiYi would be available this fall.

The $599.99 Tivoli Audio Music System (left), announced in previous years, will finally make it to market this fall, he said. Aside from twin-front mounted 3-inch speakers and a bottom-facing 5-inch subwoofer, the unit has a slot-loading CD player, a digital display which includes an alarm clock function. The 14.125-inch wide and 5.375-inch tall table radio is designed to deliver concert-quality audio, according to Tivoli Audio. The unit is available in three high-gloss color combinations: black/silver, white/silver and dark walnut/beige.

Finally, Tivloli Audio’s $159.99 SongBook portable radio will be available in two “fashion colors” this fall. These include light green and pink. The radios include a digital readout with five station preset buttons, an alarm clock function and an input jack for other audio devices. The unit uses six rechargeable AA batteries which can be recharged while they are still inside with the included AC adapter.

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