Roberts Gemini 33 (CRD-33)
First of all the most striking aspect of the Gemini 33 is the clock face. For those of you that miss a traditional 'clock' to tell you the time you'll love this product - although of course without the need to wind up a clockwork mechanism. In fact all you have to do is switch on and the time is automatically extracted from the radio signal. As soon as the time is established the hands start to turn - which does look very impressive. With the UK clocks changing last weekend it also means the time automatically adjusts and you'll never have to worry about forgetting again.
Above the traditional clock face a more familiar digital display provides this time in digits (when in standby) or information about the current audio playing. The two line display is very clear, even to early morning blurred eyes.
Both displays are backlit in blue and you have a choice of 'bright' or 'dim'. After initially being concerned that the back-light, even in dim mode, was too bright I was very pleased to find a control on the bottom of the radio that allows you to adjust this all the way from off to bright - it does sometimes pay to read the manual!
Functionally (apart from telling the time) the Gemini 33 includes a DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) as well as an FM receiver, a line-in facility to playback you iPod or other MP3 player and finally an SD card slot allowing you to playback your own MP3 compilations. All of these except line-in can be used to wake you in the morning - in additional to a buzzer for those of you that need a sharp jolt out of bed first thing!
The alarm function has four completely separate alarms. Each alarm can be configured for week-days, weekend, all days or just once.
For the other end of the day a sleep function caters for those that like to doze off listening to their favourite station, or to music recorded onto SD card. The nap timer can be set in increments of 10 minutes all the way up to a maximum of one hour.
The black, flat front of the Gemini is framed by two silver columns while the rear curves around in a semi-circle. Overall dimensions are 175 x 165 x 100mm (WxHxD). On the whole a very attractive design. One downside of this design is that the speaker becomes rear-mounted which does affect the sound quality, which will depend on what you have behind the radio. The sound can sound slightly muffled.
Continuing the trend we've seen recently with Roberts Radios the aerial for this product is a simple wire that dangles from the back. In this case it is around 6cm longer than that on the recently reviewed Sound 40. This additional length seemed to be enough to improve reception significantly over the Sound 40 with a full set of stations tuned. The Gemini 33 also was much more tolerant of where this antenna was placed. For those that live in particularly bad signal areas, the antenna on the Gemini 33 can be removed and replaced with a higher gain or potentially roof mounted alternative.
The DAB radio includes a PausePLUS feature that allows you to pause and to rewind live radio. The amount of memory given over to this function is somewhat limited and the maximum length of pause will depend on the bit-rate of the station. For a stereo 128Kbit station I got around 8 minutes maximum, for mono, 80Kbps this went up to 12 minutes - enough for a trip to the loo or a quick phone call.
The SD Card slot is almost a modern replacement for the old cassette tape. There are two primary uses : to play back your favourite MP3 format tracks ; as a place to record programmes from the radio.
Playback is very simple - selecting the SD card you can step forward and backward through the available tracks. The only information you have is the file name. With the price of SD-Cards as low as £5.99 for 2G (the maximum supported size for the Gemini) you can use these to construct different play lists.
The analogy with cassette tape continues with the record function. A simple press of a button allows you to record the current DAB station onto the SD card. There's no timer facility so you can't schedule recordings, but it is great for those times where you're listening to the breakfast show but really need to get up for work. It would have been nice if the 'nap' time could be used to limit the length of recording but unfortunately nap is disabled during record to SD card.
The Gemini 33 is a great bedroom clock radio. It both looks good and works very well with very good reception. Priced at £89.98, including shipping, this compares very favourably with other products in the same market. Comparing this with the Sound 40, I'd say this is more aimed for the adult market where the Sound 40 is more suited to the teenagers of the family. Of particular note is the improved reception over the Sound 40, and for those in poor signal areas the option to attach an external aerial.
Link to Amazon :
|add to del.icio.us||Digg this review|