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May 25, 2005

Time-shifted Car Radio: Way overdue!

A while ago, we reviewed ReplayRadio which will record internet radio programs similiar to a Tivo. Having a long commute, I still use it regularly to dump my favorite news and talk radio programs on to my MP3 player which connects to my car stereo, and it comes in handy to keep me calm while the traffic is snarled. It works great for recorded shows, but to my knowledge, there is no solution for live radio in a car.

Given the relatively small data rate that is used in audio broadcasts, I can't understand why no car stereo manufacturer hasn't added time-shifting features to one of their products. Add some inexpensive RAM and some added logic to the circuitry, and you've got a hot new feature to beat up your competitors.

I can understand that many features of a DVR don't make sense in a car radio like recording programs on a schedule. It would require some complicated user interface on small device. It would also require your radio sucking up your battery power while the car is off to record in the off hours. For many reasons recording programming on a car stereo is a bad idea.

The ability to rewind and pause live radio, on the other hand, would be really useful without adding much complexity to the user interface. I don't know how many times I've missed a traffic report by a few seconds because I'm pre-occupied and a rewind button would make that a thing of a past. Perhaps with a small additional battery, a feature to continue to record for 15-30 minutes with the car turned off would make it possible to pause a radio show while I run a quick errand. If I hear a new song I really like on the radio, it would be cool to rewind it to give it another listen, or rewind it further to hopefully catch the disk jockey mention the performers name. Fast forwarding radio commercials would kind of nice too.

So what's the deal, car stereo manufacturers? Get to work!

Posted on May 25, 2005

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Sony sold a Minidisc car stereo years ago that did time shifting and skip back. It even had a feature that would keep it recording the station you were listening to for up to 30 minutes after you turned off your car.

Alas, Minidisc was doomed in America and this minidisc car stereo was so expensive I don't think hardly anyone bought it.

Posted by: Rusty Hodge at May 26, 2005 12:41 AM

Wow, thanks for the feedback, Rusty. Perhaps it was before it's time but I'll have to do some research to see if I can pick up an old one on ebay.

I can't imagine it costing too much to the cost of a player that already supports MP3 playback and I'd easily pay another $100 for those features with all the time I spend in my car.

Posted by: Will at May 26, 2005 09:07 AM

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