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Can you get radio on the iPod? If not, why is there a "Radio" option?
This is the type of question that some experienced iPod users might flippantly dismiss, but upon reflection, one has to admit that it is a bit less than intuitive for the iPod 5th Gen, iPod classic models, and pre-Fifth Generation iPod nano models to have a "Radio" option in the settings but not have an integrated radio function. The iPod nano 5th Gen and iPod nano 6th Gen do have an integrated radio.
In iPod models other than the iPod nano 5th Gen and 6th Gen, the "Radio" option enables the iPod Radio Remote, a separate hardware device that plugs into compatible iPod models and allows the iPod to receive FM radio signals.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc.
In advertising copy, Apple explains:
Just plug in your iPod Radio Remote and select "Radio" from the main iPod menu. Tuning takes place right there in the color display with your Click Wheel, just as you'd set a classic analog radio. Easily mark a favorite station for quick access later, and switch between favorite stations using either the iPod or the remote.
If you're listening to a station that supports the Radio Data System (RDS) standard, you can even see song title/artist or radio station information in the iPod display [currently not supported in Japan]. The iPod Radio Remote supports FM stations from 87.5 to 107.9 MHz (in both the US and European standards) and 76 to 90 MHz (the Japanese standard).
As first noted by the always excellent iLounge, when used in conjunction with the iPod nano 4th Gen, the iPod Radio Remote also introduced a slick "tagging" option that allows you to flag songs that you hear on the radio for later purchase via the iTunes Store, but this is not yet widely supported by radio stations. The iPod nano 5G -- with its integrated radio -- also supports "live pause", which allows one to pause and rewind up to fifteen minutes.
At US$49, the iPod Radio Remote is expensive, but for those interested in listening to the radio on iPod models introduced prior to the iPod nano 5th Gen it is worth consideration.
Many users with older iPods likely would be better off upgrading to an iPod nano 5th Gen or 6th Gen -- which include a variety of new features in addition to an FM radio -- or alternately buying an inexpensive portable radio.