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The Set of the Future

Capt. P P Eckersley MIEE Popular Wireless, March 15, 1930.
    
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The Author.
During the past few years receiver design has advanced by leaps and bounds, until it would seem that further progress is almost impossible. Our Chief Radio Consultant, however, has some novel ideas for the future. He predicts a great drops in prices of all types of receivers which, incidentally, he says, will be adaptable for use with home talkies, as well as providing for the electrical reproduction of gramophone records.

It's rather interesting to discuss what type of set will survive during the next decade.

To-day we have the following points as the merits and demerits of each type.

The great merit of the portable is that it is so portable. There are, however, batteries to charge, there is cramped design, and quality which, while sufficient for certain purposes, can and ought to be surpassed by mains-operated and outside-aerial models.

The great: merit of an AC transportable, i.e. a portable set that works off the mains, is that it is portable (-when one wants exercise), but the degree of its useful range is the limit of where one finds alternating-current mains. This is usually ones own or possibly a friend's house. One should seldom expect to find AC on a punt on the river, a country mansion, house, or cottage, or on a motor-car. About 15 per cent of the population have access to the alternating-current mains.

The merit of the aerial and earth set is that it can be extremely cheap, for as the aerial increases in size the field strength gets stronger.

Design need not be compact, and one can do with few valves and simple circuits (sounds just like a quotation, something to do with hearts and coronets) what the portable and the transportable have to do with many valves and complicated circuits.

Will the Aerial Die?

The aerial-earth set, if the aerial has to be pretty large to make the set cheap, suffers from lack of selectivity, does not always give the owner a great range of programmes, and has to sit in one place all its life.

There is an obvious future for the combined radio and gramophone set. In this case you have both what you want when you want it (and the youngest member of the family to change the records), and what you dont want whenever you dont want it, but without any trouble at all.

I think one of the points which stands out is that with the variability of conditions and the variability of desires we shall not see one type alone oust all the rest.

I class future sets, therefore, as follows:

First, the portable set is bound to survive practically in its present form. Wanted, a high-tension battery that has a very long life, even with a high discharge rate, and also cold, emission so that the low-tension battery dies.

The transportable set will survive in two forms, first for reaching out, second for only the local station. The former will be more expensive than the latter.

People will put these transportable sets into a gramophone, when you get the combined instrument and have local stations and gramophone or distant and local stations and gramophone.

The aerial and-earth set will, in my opinion, finally die. One cannot foresee that the future will be satisfied with the troubles incident to the installation of aerials and earth. The greatest seller to-day is the portable, only because it's self-contained. and complete.

Phones will of course, die, except for very poor people. A gradual cheapening process in design and manufacture will, I think, bring about all the changes I have indicated. How it will be done will be another story.

But what is to going happen about this rediffusion business? Rediffusion, where it is adopted; means the death of the individual receiver. Thus you take a given town, which we will call Zonk, where individual reception conditions are poor. We postulate thatZonk has a weakish field strength, a good deal of interruption, crowded houses with little room for aerials and a poorish population.

Suppose we now install a good wireless receiver outside Zonk, away from trains and interference. This will be fitted with special directional aerials and every device known to get perfect quality and freedom from interruption.

A Community Super-Set

Then wires are run from this receiver all over the town to subscribers, and all the listener has to do when he wants to listen is to plug a loud speaker into.a hole in the wall. Properly rigged up there are two holes, one for one programme, and one for the other. This can be done for sums like 2s. 6d. and 5s. a week, and cover the cost on reasonable numbers.

We see at once that the consumer does not gain much in actual cost for the service. He also loses the possibility of reaching out and is limited sometimes to one programme, at others to, a choice of two.

He gains enormously, though, in that he gets a no-trouble service, has no serious capital cost, and is not in fear of obsolescence.

In my own mind, the future will see the portable, transportable, mobile radio gramophone, and rediffusion, all satisfying the needs of different classes of individuals.

I am sure in my life-time I shall see the practical elimination of the outside aerial and earth. I shall see programmes diffused not only by wireless but through the mains.

I shall see the cost of a radio gramophone with first-class quality down to £10 to £15 and. such simple sets as transportables down; to £5 to £7. The sets will be adapted as attachments for home talkies, and many more people will use their gramophones for their favourite musical pieces because we shall have the continuous record storing a whole opera or symphony.

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