This is a small Mono DAB/FM from Alba a budget brand now sold by Argos. So what can you expect without having to spend that much money? The first surprise for me was that it is both mains and battery operated so immediately a plus.
It is 16x10x5cm and weighs 306grams (without batteries). With 4x‘AA’ batteries not supplied add another 96grams. It has a seven piece rod aerial that will increase the 10cm height by 42cm when fully extended. There are two rows of five buttons Power, Scan, Menu/Info, Prev and Alarm on row one. Row two is Mode, Preset, Select, Next and Snooze. There is also a large twist know that is simply volume. The rear has the battery bay, an on/off slider, earbud socket, and DC input.
A few year ago, perhaps thinking about it, more like a couple of decades ago, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) was expected by many to be the next “big thing” in the area of radio broadcasting.
The switch over from analogue to digital failed to totally capture public endorsement although the manufacturers were still keen on the new technology. We are still in a state of flux as FM and DAB continue to fight for the dominate position in the field of audio broadcasting for a UK audience.
A few years ago DAB radio was promoted as being the next big thing. That has yet to happen although new DAB products continue to appear.
Like Paddington Bear, I enjoy marmalade, the tasty spread that accompanies my morning toast. However the same appreciation does not apply when the marmalade term refers to the patterned colour scheme that is adopted by a DAB radio. Such is the decorative feature of this next product under review. This is the VQ Retro Mini radio.
This is a small DAB/FM unit sold by the Dixons and Currys Group. It has a wooden case where most units in the same price band have a plastic one. Wood often gives a better sound. So what else has this LOGIC unit got to offer.
The Logic L55DAB15 DAB+/FM radio measures 24x9x12.5cm and weights 900grams (without batteries). The base, sides and top are a light wood. A lift handle fills 19cm of the top, the base has four stuck on rubberised feet. Both sides are clear. The back is plastic it has a 60cm six piece rod aerial, below this the battery bay for four ‘AA’ batteries. At the bottom right of the back a 3.5mm headphone socket and the DC power input, a 1.
Having recently told you about Roberts new entry level Internet offering, it seems only correct to move up the scale a little to what they call a DAB/FM/WiFi Internet Radio with Music Player and this even comes with Spotify Connect built in.
It is 26x17x9cm disregarding the handle that can slot back behind the unit and the 75cm six piece rod aerial. My unit was a mixture of matt and shiny black with the front dominated by the centre of the 6cm stereo speakers shining through the grill. Both sides and the bass are clear. This unit can run on ‘C’ cell batteries but it is of course mainly a mains unit. At the base of the back is the entry point for batteries.
Today there is a wide choice of radios that also have Internet options. Here from Roberts they openly admit this to be there entry level option, so is there anything missing that could be found in a unit costing more money or is it super value.
The Radio Stream 104 measures 21x12x5.5cm with an additional 2cm on the left side for the power lead, as it can be run from batteries I did not include this in the main measurements. So lets go round the unit on the back is a slide open bay to take 6x‘AA’ batteries rechargeable ones work fine and at the top the dock for the six piece rod aerial that extends to 72cm. The right side is clear while the left side has three near identical sockets the bottom one is for the power lead -1.
This is a small portable DAB/FM/Bluetooth radio shaped rather like a small intercom radio. It has a very solid belt clamp but instead of an earpiece being an essential part of the unit there is a small but very effective top mounted speaker.
The Roberts PlayBT radio measures 18x7x4cm with the solid collapsible aerial adding 10cm to the first figure when deployed. The unit weights 243grams. At the base of the back is a snug fitting rubber bung that covers Auxiliary and DC inputs. Above this is the substantial belt clip. The base has four tiny rubber feet that allow you to place it on a table or desk. The left side has a silver flash and the right side is where the aerial is stored. The top has the 3x2.
A new DAB and FM offering from Roberts that looks more like something from many decades ago. It is however packed with modern technology, so instead of having to continually move around to get a good signal and sound its just there.
It is 17x12cm at the back and 15x12cm at the front and 12cm deep. The front has a grill behind which is the speaker this is 9.5x8.5cm. Both sides are clear with only a connection point for carry handle that is in the same fabric that covers the whole unit, my unit was in a lime green colour. The exceptions are the back that is a gold colour as is the top. The back has a battery bay which optionally takes 4 x ‘AA’ batteries.
This is a DAB/FM/Internet radio that works via Wi-Fi and can be used as an input or output as well as having Spotify built in. It can be run off batteries which can be rechargeable and even off a battery pack for when mains power is not available.
The Roberts Radio Stream 207 radio measures 29x13.5x6cm; this figure is without the seven piece rod aerial extended which can add 66cm to the middle figure. The case is made of black plastic which does show fingermarks and rubber buttons that do not. The front has a 7cm circular speaker on each side the 8.
As with the Oxford and Go products, this next DAB/FM radio is part of the Goodmans line up of offerings.
With over 90 years of experience in the development of home entertainment technology, covering areas such as loudspeakers, radios, in-car audio and digital television sets, Goodmans has added to its product portfolio with the release of its Canvas offering. This product is a portable DAB Digital and FM radio that can be powered direct from the mains or by batteries. When purchasing this device you have a choice of going with a Slate, Copper or Apple colour scheme.
As part of Goodmans range of radios, this next offering adds a number of extra features.
With the short, snappy title of Go, this next product from Goodmans is a radio that could easily be described as a multifunction device. It does not limit itself to just providing DAB+ and FM radio signals but has a number of other functions to which I will return to a little later. Initially I will concentrate on the appearance and its radio features.
Well known for its range of radios, Goodmans has come up with a model whose title makes me think of times gone by.
When ever I encounter a product that has “Oxford” in its title, it does tend to engender visions of a by-gone age. I do not know why this happens but I tend to imagine images of a period when life was conducted at a more leisurely pace. This is especially true when the company responsible for the product has gone for a retro look to its design styling. A recent example of this approach is the Goodman Oxford classic radio which has arrived for review.
This is a small unit which Roberts describe as portable and indeed it works in all modes via six AA batteries but even when used in DAB or FM mode time between charges is not great, when used in Internet or UPnP mode even less.
The main body is 21x11.5x4cm this does not include the six piece rod aerial that would add 64cm to the middle figure the height when fully deployed but this is not required for Wi-Fi and UPnP use. As a portable the weight is important it is 781grams with the six ‘AA’ batteries inserted in its back (166grams). As a mains unit the story is good the single speaker is the left third of the front.
This is a DAB, FM, CD, SD, USB and Bluetooth sound system. There are many other systems that can do some of the things mentioned, but very few can record to SD or USB this system gives you the option to record to both.
The Blutune 200 DAB radion from Roberts measures 35.5x26x14cm, the middle figure the depth includes cables inserted in the back. The last figure the height does not include the rod DAB aerial which extends to seven pieces and 63 cm. The controls are either by the supplied remote control or the nine silvered buttons three rows of three and large silvered knob on the top centre of the unit. The central area of the front has a 7x2.
This looks like a conventional DAB/FM radio and indeed it has both those functions, it is also able to be an Auxiliary output, play anything from a Media server and is also the best and easiest to use Internet Radio I have seen.
The Roberts Stream93i measures 24x17x19cm, the last figure is the height to the top of the built in carry handle, the middle figure assumes you have the mains lead plugged into the back. It has a 45cm five piece rod aerial for reception of DAB/FM radio. My unit had shiny black sides, top and bottom, the front and back are matt black. It has a 6x4.5cm colour display in the centre of the front in the top half of the unit, level with this are two large knobs on the left volume and the right tuning.
It is described as Retro with a leather over the top grab handle to allow movement. This offering from View Quest is up to date in that it has Dab, FM, iPod and Auxiliary Input. The sound is also up to date in that it is Stereo.
My unit was a bright yellow (called mustard) and cream, there are I am told another seven colour combinations in their range of this British made unit. On checking their website the display showed ten different colour combinations. It is 29x9.5x16cm. those figures do not include the soft leather carry handle that can extend 8cm above the last figure or the seven piece bar aerial that when fully extended rises 70cm from its stored position at the top of the back.
This is a DAB, FM and Internet radio; however it is also a music player and has a full Last FM trial. Roberts are one of the main names in these devices so how does this mid sized unit shape up overall for both quality and value.
The Roberts Stream 205 measures 28x22x9cm which include the handle but not the five piece rod aerial that will add 60cm if used vertically. It can be used on mains or on batteries but the latter requires six ‘D’ cells. The control panel is on the sloping top of the unit there are 15 well marked buttons of different size and shape spread along the top and a large silvered knob to change station. There is a large clear display 6.5x3.4cm which shows relevant information.
With a lot of people downloading everything I rarely get the chance to review few audio systems with a CD now. While the number of us still buying media is falling we are still a substantial part of the market and CDs need to be played.
While my own unit is smaller in width the total size of this includes the speakers so with everyone having less space for everything this could make an extremely good multi-unit. It is 34x20x11cm, the middle figure is with leads inserted in the rear. The only other requirement is for the built in five piece rod aerial that rises 68cm when fully extended. On first switch on make sure the rod aerial is extended and it should Auto tune for DAB in my case it finds 67 stations very quickly.
I have reviewed a number of large DAB units, a few units that can be considered audio systems but I think only two units previously that are small enough to move out and about without the tether of a mains lead connected.
This is both a DAB and FM unit. It is 16x9.5x3.5cm this figure is without leads inserted into mains input or optional earbud/headphone output or the six piece 67cm total height aerial extended. It is mains or battery powered the latter by four ‘AA’ batteries. I tried both standard and rechargeable units without problem. It was possible to charge the latter in situ by using a tiny flip switch in the battery bay. The left side has a line of three sockets. USB for firmware updates, 3.
This is a DAB and for the regions that support it DAB+ radio, however you can also use it as an Auxiliary player via 3.5mm lead and perhaps more usefully a Bluetooth output completes this black boxes understated offerings.
The Tivoli Audio Alber o+ measures 17.5x11x12cm and a meaty 62cm eleven piece rod aerial extends from the back, this can clip into the back when not in use. The unit weights one kilo. Slightly indented into the back are four connectors, headphones, external speaker, Auxiliary input and DC input. The DC input lead is 1.8metres ending in power brick with mains at the top of the back so be aware if you have shirting board sockets.