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Hardware Review: Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio

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by , 07-23-2010 at 11:03 AM (15708 Views)


What is it?


The Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio is a USB device which allows FM and DAB broadcast to be controlled and played through a computer.

The Verdict: The Ultimate Computer DAB / FM USB Radio is a solid solution when searching for an FM capable radio device. The fact that it is controlled and powered but only usb means its easy to install and less susceptible to interference in a car computer setup. You wont get digital FM broadcast, nor AM radio, but the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio worked every bit as well as an OEM radio deck.



What's in the box?

The Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio comes with the radio module and a USB cable. It should be noted that the device does not come with an SMB to motorola cable which is needed to connect the Venice 7 to a car antenna in the US.


Description

The Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio is the latest in radio devices to hit the car pc arena. Its true claim to fame is the fact that it carries both FM and DAB broadcast within the same unit. There have been other devices on the market which have this feature, but the Ultimate Radio's reception quality rivals after-market head unit reception quality. No, it doesn't have digital or "HD" FM capabilities, but in all honesty, the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio sounds every bit as good as my HDRadio, and it has a smaller footprint as well.

Another key feature of the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio is the fact that its powered by only a USB cable. Again, there have been other devices which have been USB-only, but none that I've experienced can match the sound quality of the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio. The obvious benefit to being powered by USB is the ease of installation. To get the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio radio working you simply need to connect the USB to your computer. The drivers are windows standard drivers, so no CD or download is necessary. After the driver installation, connect your factory antenna to a SMB to Motorola adapter cable (not included) for FM signal. The last step simply involves running a 3.5mm patch cable(also not included) from the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio device to the line-in on the computer. Sadly, there's no USB-over-audio applied.


Once the radio is installed, its just a matter of finding a program for the computer to manage it. Impressively enough, there are already plugins for both RideRunner and Centrafuse front ends available prior to the formal release of the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio. There's also a standalone application available from the designers website. All applications for the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio are built to manage both the FM and DAB radio functions of the unit.

The Positive:

High-quality sound in FM mode (could not test DAB)
Both DAB and FM work through 1 antenna port
Smaller than most high quality radios available
USB controlled and USB powered. Installation is a breeze

The Negative:

No casing
Lacks AM radio
May require purchasing extra accessories

The Verdict:

The Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio USB radio is a solid solution when searching for an FM capable radio device. The fact that it is controlled and powered but only usb means its easy to install and less susceptible to interference in a car computer setup. You wont get digital FM broadcast, nor AM radio, but the Ultimate Computer DAB / FM Radio sounds every bit as well as an OEM radio deck.

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