There are many use cases of our favourite mobile operating system. It powers anything and everything from small straps that help parents keep tabs on what their kids are up to to television sets to speakers we can bark instructions at to fancy dashboards on cars costing upwards of Kshs 10 million. What are the odds that you have imagined it being used to power a radio whose feature set is a blend of what my uncles were using in their houses in the 80s and what I use in mine in 2018?
Well, that is exactly what the Italians have done with the Radionovelli 4G radio.
As the name hints, the radio itself has 4G radios (network radios that is) that make it possible to connect to the internet when one inserts a SIM card from any mobile network operator in the world.
This is unique because Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), the digital radio standard for broadcasting digital audio radio services that is used in countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific where analogue radio broadcasting, like the one we have in Kenya, is no more, are not new. They’ve been around for quite some time. All of them usually use Wi-Fi for connecting to the internet. While that is cool and all, it can be limiting. More so when you’re not within a Wi-Fi zone, a problem that most of us in developing markets experience often. Thankfully, we have robust mobile connectivity options and this gadget from Radionovelli seeks to exploit that.
It’s not just that, the Radionovelli 4G radio, which was unveiled yesterday at the IFA Global Press Conference in Rome, Italy, also has several other features that serve to elevate it to a higher standard than your ordinary DAB radio you can buy today. First things first, it runs on Android, opening it up to a whole wide world of endless possibilities, apps and all.
Secondly, it has an Artist Mode which lets users of the radio interact with it using voice. A voice assistant of sorts that users can use to request any content (audio or video) available either via the open internet or through the various radio channels accessible, to be played.
That is not all, though. The smart functions of the radio continue playing out through the small integrated touch display and webcam (this is significant because all the DAB radios I have been looking up on Amazon with the intention of buying lack this) which lets users use apps like YouTube, Apple Music and even Skype, of all things. Additionally, Artist Mode is further enhanced by the Continuous Artist Mode which is, essentially, Artist Mode but with a more prolonged use of prescription drugs. How it works is that every time one listens to a song on, say, Spotify, they can continue sampling more of the same artist’s music by touching the “continuous artist” button to activate several links to radio stations that transmit (at that time). In the case of YouTube, the content gets downloaded.
What caught my eye is the way the entire radio’s software, customized Android, has been set up so that both the listener (or viewer in the case of YouTube) and the content producer get rewarded for their indulgence and hardwork respectively. There are advertising options to let content producers and production houses to advertise on the radio to users. For the users, they get a button that allows them to buy the products being advertised. This system makes possible other essentials of this day and age like the integration of PPV (pay per view) services so it’s entirely possible to tune in to Wrestlemania on the Radionovelli 4G radio as well as making it better for advertisers to target their users.
In addition to the built-in webcam and cellular connectivity option, there’s also another nice surprise: a CD/DVD player. At this point, I realized, the device just needed to somehow add a turntable and a cassette player to make it the perfect gift for my father’s upcoming birthday since he’s the only remaining soul that makes good use of the DVD drive on my laptop.
The only problem, however, is that to be able to use any of the features I have stated above, one needs to part with €1,000. Yes, over Kshs 120,000.
The world’s first 4G radio, which is made in Italy by Axis Intenational, goes on sale on May 7th both at physical stores like the one here in Rome and online on distributor Radionovelli’s website as well as Amazon. It is on the latter platform where it will truly get to go head to head with other comparative products. With that price tag, however, it most likely won’t be winning any of those contests but it is sure to turn a couple of heads.