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Visual Information Radio Card Working with the Palmtop PC

Visual Information Radio Card Working with the Palmtop PC

By Makoto Niwa

FM text-multiplex broadcasting started in Japan in April of 1995. "Visual Radio," as it is called, broadcasts text information, including traffic bulletins, weather forecasts, program information, sports and other news flashes.

You need a dedicated FM Radio receiver with embedded decoder to use Visual Radio. Small portable radio receivers with the decoder circuits were the first to hit the Japanese market, followed by PC Card and ISA bus decoder units for computers. The PC card decoder is particularly useful when combined with portable PCs. Wherever you go, you can receive the information you need in text format and save it for later viewing, use in a document, etc.

The Panasonic CF-JVR010, released in December 1995, is one such FM text-multiplex tuner card. When inserted in the PC Card slot of a computer the receptacles for an external antenna and a earphone, and a volume control remain outside of the slot (see below).

This card was designed to be used with notebook PCs and comes with software for Windows 3.1 and Win95. As soon as this card was released, palmtop users found that the card's interface was defined as a communication port, in the same way that modem card interfaces are defined. This meant that the Panasonic card should work with the 100LX/200LX and other DOS computers.

The Panasonic card is supported on a vendor-moderated forum in NIFTY-Serve, which quickly became a place to exchange ideas between Panasonic's people and the users of the palmtop. Finally, four months after the release of the Windows version, Panasonic started to sell the DOS version of its Visual Radio Software to allow the card to work with DOS computers. I would like to thank Panasonic for its prompt reaction to the requests of the user community of the HP 100/200LX.

To run this software on the Palmtop, you first have to install its driver in CONFIG.SYS and enable the port with the palmtop's built-in CIC100 software. Visual Radio's pull down menus make it easy to use on the palmtop. The text messages are displayed in the central box of the palmtop's screen and can be saved to a text file if so desired (see screen below). The sound portion of the radio signal can be played on the Palmtop's internal speaker or through an earphone connect to the card.

I am very happy with this card. It and the Palmtop let me access FM text-multiplex broadcasting easily, anywhere and at any time.

[Note: FM text-multiplex system in Japan is technically called DARC (Data Radio Channel). It was developed by NHK (Nihon Hoso Kyokai Japan Broadcasting Corporation) in Japan, in co-operation with TERACOM in Sweden. In 1995 DARC was accepted as an International Standard in ITU-R.]

Pricing and Contact Information for products mentioned in this article

FM text-multiplex card CF-JVR101 from Panasonic. Available in Japan in major PC stores.

 Receiving the FM Text-Multiplex broadcasting.

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