OK, we admit that this might be more appropriate on Engadget than Autoblog, but it is about BMW audio, so here goes. HD Radio technology is said to be one of the most significant advances in radio broadcasting history. Their words, not ours, but it's probably true. Just like HDTV, which gives viewers an unprecedented amount of visual sharpness and clarity, HD Radio gives listeners crystal clear, noise-free reception.
HD Radio can also multicast and display text information like station name, or track and artist info. Multicasting allows FM stations to broadcast multiple channels of programming on one frequency. Imagine your favorite station pumping alt-rock, hip-hop and country through one dial setting and you can see how cool this technology can be. And unlike satellite subscription services like XM or Sirius, HD Radio is free to anybody with an HD receiver. Not a huge group right now, but with 1,000 HD stations out there broadcasting HD programming, we expect it to be a hot sector in the near future.
BMW was the first to offer an OEM HD Radio on its 2006 7-series models. They added it to the 6-series in '06, and then announced that HD Radio would appear on the 5-series models in '07. Well, that group will soon include BMW 3-series owners as well. Starting with the Hardtop Convertible, HD will start showing up in 3s in 2007 as well, for around $500. For a list of HD stations, check out www.hdradio.com.