Digital radio display to open in Sydney CBD Bing Lee store

The commercial radio industry is continuing its push for the introduction of digital radio, and has signed an agreement with Bing Lee, one of the largest electrical retailers in New South Wales, to host a digital radio display at its city store.

Bing Lee, which has more than 26 stores throughout the Sydney metropolitan region, will open the digital radio centre at its Sydney Skygarden store in Castlereagh Street this week (December 9).  UPDATE to this article – The Castlereagh store has now closed but other Bing Lee stores stock digital radios. See the comment post at the bottom of this article for details.

CEO Joan Warner has told radioinfo: “The support of a major retailer such as Bing Lee will provide a central location for consumers to find out more about digital radio and will boost awareness of the new technology in the busy pre-Christmas trading period. ”

The display will feature a range of the latest digital radios, including the sleek new Perstel DR601 kitchen radio, which boasts a huge memory of 100 presets, five hotkeys and a six line LCD screen display. There are now more than 100 different digital radio products available around the world, with more than 30 new products launched in the past three months alone.

In Australia, the technology is still in trial phase, but Bing Lee will sell a range of products on consignment by Sangean, Pure Digital and Bush to people who are aware of the current broadcasting limitations and are still keen to be early adopters. The receivers are priced from $199, depending on features.

Another new product to be added to the display soon is the Revo, an in-car receiver designed to work with a car’s existing audio system rather than replacing it. The Revo, which promises to bring digital radio to the “motoring masses” is due for release in late December and has an optional dock for home use, and a rechargeable battery pack and headphones (due for release in February 2005) which converts it into a portable radio.

Digital Radio Australia, a consortium of commercial and public broadcasters, has been running a technical and consumer trial of digital radio in Sydney since December 2003. The industry is hopeful of reaching an agreement soon with the Federal Government on a technical standard and policy framework that will allow it to roll out digital radio services across Australia.

Digital radio offers CD-quality sound, LCD screens with scrolling text showing song titles or news headlines, and the ability to pause, rewind and digitally record live radio.

In the UK, commercial stations began digital broadcasting in November 1999. While uptake was initially slow, the market received a big boost when lower priced receivers were introduced two years ago. Penetration is forecast to reach one million DAB digital radios in UK homes at the end of 2004 and 13 million (or 29 per cent of homes) by 2008.

The digital radio display at Bing Lee is an initiative of the commercial radio industry and was previously located at Domayne in Alexandria and Harvey Norman Auburn. The display will be supported by an in-store competition to win a Pure Bug digital radio for Christmas, consumer giveaways and other promotions over the next three months.

If you visit the new digital radio centre at Bing Lee Skygarden and you could win the ultimate Christmas gift – a stylish Pure Digital Bug. Fill out an entry form to go in the draw to win a Bug, the first radio in the world, which lets you pause, rewind and record live radio. Designed by Wayne Hemmingway, the Bug looks like a cross between an alien and a space age computer. It has a bright blue backlit LCD display, digital clock, timer function, dual alarm and USB port, and is valued at $695.