ICE (In Car Entertainment) has come a long way from the first systems installed in the 1930’s. It was 1952 before the first FM radio was introduced by Blaupunkt followed in 1953 by the iconic Becker Mexico.

Iconic Becker Mexico – 1953

Since then there have been many advances including being able to save particular stations to a button, the addition of an 8 track player (remember those?) and of course the ubiquitous cassette. I always had Queen Greatest Hits in the player and every time I sold the car I had to buy a new copy.

Queen Greatest Hits

Now we have satellite navigation, smart phone connection and the ability to play podcasts and Spotify et al. The methods of being distracted whilst driving are endless but I still prefer the humble radio.

DAB Radio

Digital Audio Broadcasting is the new method of listening to the radio in the car. The BBC has an explanation of the technology here. Is it an improvement over FM/AM radio? I’m not convinced.

I acquired an early Roberts DAB Radio some years ago and it was in the kitchen for a while but it didn’t have much reception and had to be sited in an awkward position to receive any stations. It is now relegated to the garage and only used occasionally whilst I am in there tinkering…

Early DAB radio – Very power hungry

It is mains power only but the adapter gets quite warm and I understand the power consumption of these is quite high.

It is in the car that I have the most problems with DAB, there are huge swathes of my local area with poor or limited reception. The problem with digital signals is that they either work or not, unlike good old analogue reception that could cope with degraded reception.

The signal always chooses to drop out just when my favourite song is playing or when Mr Ferrari (LBC Radio) has asked the most incisive question of some incompetent politician he has quivering before him!

I find that digitising something is rarely an improvement; digital phones, digital cameras, digital watches are all examples of a reworking of technology that I think was already more than adequate. The germans have a word for it: Verschlimmbesserung.