Digital Radio has come along in leaps and bounds in the two and a half years since launching officially in Australia. However, with so much of the regular radio listening occurring in-cars, it’s the one area that needs the most attention from manufacturers.
Little Aussie company HiTV have released a product called the VIVA for Australian consumers which offers Digital Radio to your existing stereo, without the window-mounting and poor FM retransmission that has plagued previous products in the market.
The only part of the installation that is visible is the small control unit which you could put almost anywhere on your dashboard depending on your installation preference.
At $349 it’s not cheap, nor will it seem after installation – an extra $150 or so. But the quality will impress.
You can choose to have the output from the unit piped into your FM antenna, and tune your Radio to a set frequency (such as 100.00fm) for what seems to be to be fantastic quality reception. Especially considering the problems of those windscreen mounted units which re-broadcast within your car on a chosen frequency. The problems there are the interference and difficulty finding a set frequency for a drive from one side of the city to the other.
With the direct push into your existing receiver there is no interference issues.
The alternative is to set up an auxiliary output – which you can run out into your car and plug into your AUX jack on your existing radio.
Reception across Sydney is great, except of course in tunnels and near the transmission triangle in Artarmon.
The one problem with this device is summer. A hot Aussie summer caused two issues for me. The double sided adhesive used by the installer simply dropped off – so I’d often get into the car and find it dangling off the dash. I’m sure that could be overcome with a more robust installation.
The second was a bit more troubling – The heat of the sun with the device sitting on the dash simply caused the unit to malfunction. A breeze of air conditioning to cool it down and things will get going again – but that’s a pretty concerning issue for the device in Aussie conditions.
If your car isn’t left out in the sun then that’s not an issue at all.
Top marks for HiTV for bringing this to market – if you have a car with a non-standard radio installation size then a replacement radio in total just isn’t an option, so this HiTV VIVA is the best option if you want to experience Digital Radio in the metro areas.