I have a Bug by my bedside. Not an infestation of cockroaches caused by habitual sub-duvet pie consumption, but Pure's emphatically designed digital radio. Today, in the spirit of scientific progress, I download and flash the experimental electronic programme guide -- first EPG in the world for a production DAB radio, pop pickers -- and enter the world of the TiVoistas.
It's good, for a beta. A bit clunky because you have to tune your radio to the EPG channel and silently await the data, but that'll be fixed in production says Pure. Imagine a large calendar with date and time running along the top and station name going down the side: the EPG software makes the Bug's limited screen a window onto this, and you can change station or time by using the navigation cursor keys on the radio's base. It's simple but very effective, and when you've found the programme you want you can mark it for later recording onto the SD card or find more information about it.
It'll be even better when the BBC starts broadcasting its EPG on a regular basis, rather than whenever some bloke at DAB Central has nothing else to do between games of Tetris: as it is, the only listings I get are for Capital Gold, Capital Disney, Capital Mellow, Capital Identikit Bland, Capital Bland Identikit, Capital Middle Of The Road, Capital Top 40, Capital I Remember 2004… sorry, got carried away there.
We shouldn't be too blasé about DAB, though. Although the UK's doing very well in rolling out the system, it's by no means as popular abroad. In Germany, there are no new licences on offer -- the regulator has suspended the process while it investigates different standards such as DVB-H that can do a lot more -- video, high quality audio, digital data services and so on -- because they've been developed a long time after the DAB Eureka 147 standard was finalised. In the US, the success of the digital satellite radio stations XM and Sirius means they're looking to Europe to expand -- although subscription-only music services sold on the lure of no advertising will have a hard time in the UK with its eight public service radio networks.
In short, the once-moribund world of wireless is fizzing with intrigue, uncertainty and interest. Does a soul good…