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Titus II DRM receiver

Friday, September 02, 2016

I posted some info about this radio on the DRM receiver list page a few days ago just hours after it was revealed at HFCC B16 in Miami, but I think it's worth a front page post:

The TWR / PantronX Titus II AM/SW/FM/DRM receiver

As you can probably guess from the picture, the Titus II is basically Android tablet hardware (7" 1024x600 TFT touchscreen, Quad-core ARM A53 CPU, 1GB RAM, 8GB Flash) married to a radio front-end/tuner, and built into a 290mm x 150mm x 45mm portable radio case.

The case also houses a Li-Pol battery, stereo speakers, 2 antennas (MW ferrite loopstick & extendable whip), and an internal microphone. Connections are included for an external antenna, external mic, headphones / powered speakers, HDMI (presumably output) and USB (microUSB OTG). Typical Android tablet features like WiFi,  Bluetooth, & a MicroSD slot, are standard. "Filecasting" - the ability to receive OTA apps & file downloads for use/sharing, as recently demonstrated by TWR Guam - is also featured.

The "radio" part is SDR. TWR & PantronX state that apps are included for AM, FM, and "Digital" (DRM was demonstrated at HFCC B16; HDradio/DAB/DAB+/other is unknown & probably unlikely). Stated coverage is 100kHz to 2GHz, which suggests a Mirics MSi001/002 chipset, or possibly a Rafael Micro R820T/T2 or similar front end as used in many DVB-T stick SDR setups.

Oh, and the tablet-like stand folds back over the front to protect the screen. Or the screen protector folds back to become the stand. Depends on which pic you look at first ;).

The name "Titus II"? Well, since this radio appears to have been developed in conjunction with / for Trans World Radio (TWR), the largest evangelical Christian media organisation in the world, it's a fair bet it's a biblical reference. I'll leave you to look it up for yourself…

(Apparently a smaller, cheaper "Titus I" has been rumoured. Going by the reference, it might be aimed at pulling the rest of us unbelievers into line ;)

For most people, the most interesting thing is the price: "sub-$100" was the figure given at HFCC B16. Compare that to the ~US$300 price of the only other DRM receiver available - the frankly very disappointing Avion AV-DR-1401 from India - and it's very interesting indeed. While I have severe misgivings about the choice of a tablet-based SDR as a consumer radio (what happens in a year or two when the hardware &/or OS is outdated & no longer supported?) and DRM in general - I think it's opportunity has been and gone, not helped by the DRM Consortium (and others) continually over-hyping its usefulness and capabilities - the Titus II is certainly one to watch.

If they can have them in people's hands by Christmas / early next year (i.e. if it makes it to market unlike 80% of the other DRM receivers promised/exhibited since 2005, and without long delays like the Avion), and it actually performs as advertised (unlike the Avion), then I'll certainly be lining up to buy one…

More info is available on the Titus II website, and there's some publicly-viewable discussion on the DRMNA Yahoo group & website.

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