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A radio station on your shoulder

Gareth Edwards

mobilestudioUK readers may recall with nostalgia the radio Outside Broadcast vans that you used to (and can still, in fact) find outside sporting events, bristling with antennae and hooked up to a sheaf of cables running to the commentary box inside the stadium. However, following that most Japanese principle that anything large exists only to be made smaller, and anything small smaller still, the outside broadcast van (minus the vehicular bits, obviously) now fits into a brick that you can hang from a shoulder strap. NEC's mobilestudio is a 10 x 25 x 23 cm box that comes in orange and sky blue as well as the obligatory black, and houses an ISDN router, amp, mike sockets, and a slot for an NTT DoCoMo FOMA 3G data card. The use of the cellphone network obviously means that you can broadcast from pretty much anywhere, though the fact that 3G waves don't go around corners all that well leads us to wonder how good this is indoors. We hope the battery's replaceable, too, as it only lasts an hour.

The biggest question, though, has to be why one of these is strictly necessary when every radio station in the world is set up for phone-ins and there are noise-cancelling headsets like theBoom on the market (the higher-quality audio that comes from NEC's proprietary MPEG-4-variant codec, perhaps?). Especially since a mobilestudio will set you back Y990,000 (US$9,000), or Y2 mn if you go for the fully-loaded version, and you need two—one outside and one at the studio—to actually use the system. Ironically, many Japanese TV stations are already using FOMA videophones to get quick, rough-and-ready on-the-spot reporting, without the need for a 3kg lump hung over your shoulder.

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