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Cellphones Communications Handhelds Wireless Networking Entertainment

LG Releases First Smartphone With DAB+ Chip (thestack.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: LG have released the first smartphone with built-in DAB+ circuitry,allowing users to listen to digital radio without consuming mobile data bandwidth. The LG Stylus 2 will initially be released in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands (perhaps not coincidentally these are among the highest-rate adopters of DAB/DAB+). Patchy coverage and often-poor bitrates have hindered the take-up of DAB/+, which has been in development since the early 1980s, and it's hoped that the shift from the motoring to the smartphone space will alleviate some of the coverage problems that users experienced with the push to DAB-based car radios. No benchmarks on power consumption of the integrated DAB+ circuitry is currently available.
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LG Releases First Smartphone With DAB+ Chip

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  • Brilliant (Score:3, Funny)

    by zarr ( 724629 ) on Monday March 14, 2016 @03:46PM (#51695369)
    So now you can listen to crappy bandwith radio while draining your battery at double speed. Nice.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      DAB+ is at least an order of magnitude better than FM.

      • by ffkom ( 3519199 )
        You probably never listened to real-life DAB+. The abysmal rates (32kbit/s to 64kbit/s) most stations use here (because it's just so much cheaper) sound like crap in comparison to the same stations via analog FM. Sure, DAB+ could _theoretically_ sound much better, if they weren't cheap on bandwidth, but they are.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I listen to DAB+ every day and while not perfect, it is usually more than good enough. It doesn't have any of the audible noise FM tends to have and the dynamic range is noticably better. Most stations here are either 128 or 96 kb/s.

        • The abysmal rates (32kbit/s to 64kbit/s) most stations use here

          Here is a big variable.

          National broadcasts "here" (Netherlands) are 96kbps or 128kbps
          Popular stations are 80kbps or 96kbps. And still sound better than FM.

          Only some edge case junk I can barely pick up on FM broadcasts below 64kbps.

    • by bug1 ( 96678 )

      It should not use much of your battery, it doesnt have to transmit AFAIK.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just like any other DAB/+ radio vs. FM, for the simple reason that it needs to do a lot more for at best the same result.

    Curious how digital TV is an improvement (usually), but digital radio fails in that space.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was under the impression that digital TV was an improvement because it allowed them to shove more channels in the same limited bandwidth. Thus, not for efficiency or quality reasons, just bulk advertisements.

    • by clonehappy ( 655530 ) on Monday March 14, 2016 @04:07PM (#51695463)

      Because unlike FM Stereo, analog TV left a lot of room for improvement. FM Stereo, for most use cases, really actually is "good enough" considering the vast majority of people aren't audiophiles.

      Also, the sketchy RF environment inherent in mobile use (such as in the car or handheld device) isn't well suited for digital. Where an analog signal fades for a split second or you get a moment of static, the digital drops out completely, tries to re-sync the stream and has to buffer before it continues playing.

      Some things really are just better suited for a down-and-dirty analog connection.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        Does DAB use a scheme like satellite radio, where the same data is sent a second time after a delay? If not, what is the point of buffering?

        • I don't know the specifics of DAB, but the US standard (IBOC HD) does generally have two redundant streams with a delay.

        • by bug1 ( 96678 )

          Hamming codes provide error correction, but its not really sending out the same data twice. It can correct small isolated errors. It does require a buffer, but not a large one.

        • If not, what is the point of buffering?

          Packet decryption. The buffering period is incredibly short, but it's there. You need a portion of the stream before you can start decoding it. This is typically 1 second. But 1 second is an entire lifetime compared to an FM signal which may get a sudden bit of noise and then recover instantly and it makes a borderline signal unalienable.

      • While in the US, digital TV is associated with HD, in Europe it was originally associated with "more channels", HD coming later. The "more channels" thing is also the argument for digital audio, and the US "equivalent" of DAB, HDRadio (urgh) is mostly about adding channels, with a minor quality improvement that's kind of noticable but most ears forget about after a few seconds of listening.

        • by Aereus ( 1042228 )
          I find HDRadio to be a huge improvement over regular FM quality in my car. When the digital signal syncs I can hear a large difference in the sound stage compared to the first few seconds when its still using the analog. Every so often the HD signal is down for the day on a station, and I kinda wince at having to listen in analog as its just not anywhere near as nice to listen to IMHO.
      • by Ormy ( 1430821 )

        Because unlike FM Stereo, analog TV left a lot of room for improvement. FM Stereo, for most use cases, really actually is "good enough" considering the vast majority of people aren't audiophiles.

        Also, the sketchy RF environment inherent in mobile use (such as in the car or handheld device) isn't well suited for digital. Where an analog signal fades for a split second or you get a moment of static, the digital drops out completely, tries to re-sync the stream and has to buffer before it continues playing.

        Some things really are just better suited for a down-and-dirty analog connection.

        I would tend to agree but I have first hand anecdotal evidence to the contrary. After installing a DAB in my car I get far more channels that are much easier to search/navigate and the reception is largely the same or possibly better, in the various tunnels and longer under-passes (London) DAB receives slightly better than FM did and regains signal very quickly indeed compared to HDMI for example, but I know it cannot be instantaneous.

      • by johanw ( 1001493 )

        "considering the vast majority of people aren't audiophiles."

        And considering not everyone listens to music all the time. I usually put on a news channel when I'm driving, or don't have any radio at all when I drive a short distance.

      • Because unlike FM Stereo, analog TV left a lot of room for improvement. FM Stereo, for most use cases, really actually is "good enough" considering the vast majority of people aren't audiophiles.

        Spoken like someone who forgot the golden years of the CD. Non audiophiles marveled at the quality boost just as much as any other person. FM is not "good enough", just DAB+ has some disadvantages that cancel out the benefits and don't make it worth while in many scenarios (some of which you mentioned).

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        In the UK the switch to digital was largely a downgrade. The picture quality on digital channels is atrocious. Extremely low bit rate and resolution, far worse than an average analogue signal. For a while the HD channels weren't too bad, but over the years they have been cutting away at the bit rate on those too. Even the BBC's streaming service, iPlayer, is down to 720p low bit rate. Amateur stuff on YouTube looks far, far better now.

        The same is true of radio. DAB has brought low bit rates and poor recepti

    • by ffkom ( 3519199 )
      I'm too very sceptical about the power consumption of this receiver: So far, all the DAB+ radios I held in hand ate battery like crazy - about 10 times the amount of a similar FM radio. So either this LG phone has some new, exciting DAB+ chipset that is way more efficient than what we've seen so far, or it's an epic fail in terms of usability.
  • What a waste (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday March 14, 2016 @05:05PM (#51695767)

    What's the point of this? There isn't much to listen to on the radio these days anyway.

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      DAB solved the problem how "how can I sell a radio for £150 which gives me far fewer stations than an FM radio with worse sound quality". They're bringing this marketing triumph to the masses through the miracle of smartphones.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      This is for Europe where radio is great.
      Around here I get some + 50 DAB+ stations for all tastes.

      The biggest advantage for the listener is it's cell based so while driving it switches without drop out, for the owner it's especially the lower power cost.
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs generally support FM Radio and it used to be a standard feature with the headphone jack acting as an aerial.

      When I'm on public transport I listen to the community radio stations such as PBS, RRR, ZZZ that support local artists and subcultures. How else does one stumble across gigs and local happenings?

      Obviously Googlebots in California don't use the feature though, since they explicitly do not support the feature in their Nexus series - bastards! So it will be a turnaround if LG's n

    • by shione ( 666388 )

      I agree. I think they could do far more better by using a better DAC in their phones like a Wolfson. I'd buy their cheap phones just as music player if they did that. Samsung's GS2 had radio built into it and used the earphone cable as an antenna, then they took the radio out in the GS3 onwards. In fact a lot of new phones including the iphone have FM capability (Murata 339S0228 chip) but it is turned off in the firmware or not electrically connected to a antenna source. Seems a bit odd to be going for DAB

  • Kodak came up with APS film way too late in the game and no one ever used. APS fell in between 35 mm film and digital. DAB is like that. It falls between FM and digital streaming. It is too late.

    Better option would be for government to completely wipe out AM/FM and replace with digital channels. It can squeeze more than 1000 stations with 128k bit rate in the current FM band. If that standardizes, I will start listening radio again (current satellite radios too expensive and DAB coverage not worth).

  • Can anyone tell me whether there ways of using UDP broadcast over the air? The idea is that you would have a wireless server, with an IP address throwing out packets for its content and then have wi-fi stations simply receiving these packets and making them available to systems on the local network. The idea being that you could simply set up a wi-fi router and then transmit. A little like a mesh, except it is one way.

  • ... it's hoped that the shift from the motoring to the smartphone space will alleviate some of the coverage problems that users experienced with the push to DAB-based car radios.

    How will using a handheld device with a tiny antenna solve coverage problems compared to a vehicle with a proper antenna?

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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