You can pick up a table-top DAB wireless for as little as £30 these days, but chances are it'll be adorned in eye-bleeding plastic and suffer more tuning issues than Geri Halliwell. So we've gone for the cream of the audio crop; four DAB radios in the £150 to £250 bracket. Serious money, but then these are serious radios with all the modern day trimmings.
Price: £199 More info: Pure Digital Size (HxWxD): 210x250x120mm Presets: 99 DAB, 99 FM Frequency ranges: Band III DAB 174-240MHz, FM 87.5-108MHz, LW 1452-1490 MHz Speakers: Stereo Outputs: Headphone, line-out, optical audio, phono Display: LED backlit Power: Mains, batteries or ChargePAK (not supplied)
Released a couple of years back, the Evoke-3 still sits proudly at the top of Pure's much-lauded DAB product range. While it's a reassuringly solid unit, the tried and trusted wood panelled design, along with its dizzying array of plastic buttons, now looks a little dated against many of its peers.
The Evoke-3 is first for features, however; there's hundreds of presets, an EPG for setting up programmes, an SD slot to record them, and the ReVu feature allowing 50 minutes of recorded live radio without the need of an SD card - which is handy as one isn't supplied. Everything is a cinch to get to grips with either by the front-mounted buttons or via the supplied remote, and with the help of a decent-sized LED display, this makes for a wonderfully intuitive box of tricks.
And that's not all; a USB socket allows for software updates, while both digital and analogue connections allow a multitude of external devices to be added. MP3s can be played either via an MP3 which can be hooked up via the 3.5mm line-in, or through an SD card. Sound quality is impressive rather than stellar; spoken word broadcasts are handled with great clarity, but crank up a music station and trebles can get a little shrill. But of course a DAB portable will never sonically match a full-scale hi-fi, and the Evoke-3 handles its primary duties brilliantly.
Unrivalled functionality, decent sound quality, good range of connections Minus points
Same old design, SD card not supplied
Price: £150 More info: Roberts Size (HxWxD): 155x250x100mm Presets: 1 Frequency ranges: Band III DAB 174-240MHz, FM 87.5-108MHz Speakers: Mono Outputs: Headphone, line-out Display: LED backlit Power: Mains or batteries
Roberts RD 50
Stunning in any of its 1950s-themed colours, the leather-clad Roberts RD 50 is the most convincing take on a retro radio we've ever seen. Out goes the kitchen sink functionality of the Pure Evoke 3, and in its place, a defiantly minimal array of features. But while it's a joy to the retro-hungry eye, the lack of functions soon becomes apparent. Just the one preset space for either DAB or FM is an annoyance, as is the lack of any alarm or sleep functions. And in contrast to other radios in the group, no line-in socket means iPods or other MP3 players are not invited. It's a welcome surprise then to find the inclusion of 'Pause Plus', which allows you to pause live radio for around 20 minutes while you go do something else - play your MP3s, maybe.
The generously sized two-line LED display makes for very clear reading, while tuning is easy to master and reception is strong for both DAB and FM. The RD 50 can't match more expensive rivals for audio muscle when listening to music stations, but for spoken word broadcasts, there's decent tonal accuracy and clarity from its mono speaker.
While £150 seems a fair old whack for a portable wireless, it's actually small change in this company, and what the RD 50 lacks in features, it makes up for in its compact, eye-candy appearance and rewarding sound quality.
Wonderfully retro design, decent sound quality, intuitive controls Minus points
Limited functions, weaker sounding that its rivals