HD Radio is a way of broadcasting digital and analog radio on the same frequencies. This allows stations to use the benefits of digital radio without the need to get the rights to use new frequencies. As well as crystal-clear sound quality with no static, broadcasters can offer a wider range of programming. For example, a local station could broadcast sports coverage and music at the same time on a single frequency. However, you will need a special radio to receive HD radio broadcasts.
HD Radio is both a technology and, in some places, a brand name. In the United States, it's the brand name for the government-mandated broadcasting method for digital audio. There's no connection between HD Radio and high definition television. You should therefore check that a product advertised as HD Radio compatible is suitable for both your country's set-up and your personal needs. Remember that the best HD radio for you will not always be the most expensive.
Bear in mind that there is no imminent deadline in most countries to switch to HD radio. Unlike with television signals, there's usually little need to phase out analog radio broadcasts. This means you should look into the costs and benefits of HD radio carefully and only buy equipment when you feel it is worthwhile. For example, you may want to wait until the best HD radio stations are available in your area.
Drivers in the United States can choose from 70 different car models which have built-in HD radios. It's also possible to choose either a new HD radio for your existing car, or a converter unit which will transform your existing car stereo. The prices for such options range immensely, so shop around and make sure you don't pay for features you won't need.
For those with a strong interest in music, the best HD radio will likely be one that takes advantage of the system's data broadcast potential. Most receivers will have a display which not only tells you which station you are listening too, but also the performer and the song title. Some models even allow you to connect an iPod and click a Tag button on the receiver when you hear a song you like. Next time you sync your iPod to your computer, you'll get an automatic link to the song's listing in the iTunes store so that you can buy it.
If you are looking for the best HD radio to use on the move, check the battery life carefully. The first range of portable HD radios used batteries extremely quickly. New technology launched in early 2009 extended the battery life available. This will likely mean earlier models will become much cheaper. However, you'll need to calculate whether the additional battery costs will outweigh such savings.