By ian Urie
Radio has seen a resurgence in the last couple of years.
More and more mobile phones have radio receivers on them as the mobile morphs into a media player.
Digital radio has helped.
It promises clearer and better definition signals and more choice.
One of the kids wanted a digital radio for Christmas, so I went looking.
Digital radio varies wildly in price.
They vary from around £30 to upwards of £300.
Another factor to be taken into consideration is the availability of digital radio in your area.
Until the digital switch over is completed, this signal could be problematic.
The site shown above will enable you to check coverage as well as learn about DAB.
Simply click on the grab to go there.
Sorry, I should have mentioned.
DAB means digital audio broadcast.
Anyway, back to the search for a player.
I decided to go for a mid range unit.
DAB radios come in a variety of units, and I wanted a unit which could be portable and have some of the
"extras" that DAB can provide.
It didn't take long for me to discover that two providers seem to be the market leaders in DAB.
These are Pure and Roberts.
Clicking on their names will take you to their sites.
They both offer a large range of players and both offer the "extras" I mentioned.
For instance, their top range players have an EPG.
That would be electronic program guide to you and me.
This allows you to bookmark programs in advance.
You can also record these programs to the player, usually in the form of a memory card.
You can also "pause" radio.
Much in the same way you can use Sky+, you can pause the program and then restart from where you paused it.
Ok, I had a list of wants, what could they offer me?
Pure has one of their top of the range models that did everything, the Evoke3.
This unit has everything!
It has sleep timers, portable, SD card function, USB, pause and rewind, as well as the reputation of one of the best
receivers in the business. It also has FM , in case the signal is too poor in my area to receive DAB.
Unfortunately, it also has a price of £200.
Pure also has the quirky Bug Too.
This , again, has nearly all the features I wanted, but the price was under a hundred pounds.
Then there was Roberts.
Roberts have loads of radios as well, but seem to like retro styling, which isn't my idea of modern radios.
However, they also have modern looking radios as well as extremely portable units
such as the RD14 Sports.
Another candidate was the RD55.
You can check out any of these players by clicking on the grabs.
I swithered between these units for quite some time.
I had nothing to base my assumptions upon.
In the end, I ended up discarding the Bug Too after much soul searching.
Although it had nearly everything, it didn't have FM.
If our area didn't have a good enough signal, it wasn't any use.
It took me two or three goes to discard that, it is simply so different to the rest of the players, that it has a charm of its own.
Similarly, the Sports model. I could just visualize that can getting pounded as it was flung in and out of pockets, cars, dropped.
Also, it didn't have the SD capability, pause functions.
I should point out that none of these are exactly cheap units. They all retail around the £100 mark.
Finally it was down to the two, the Evoke or the 55.
The Evoke was simply too pricey for my needs.
It is a wonderful unit with good looks, every function you wish, timers, record, pause etc.,
but I couldn't justify spending £200 on a radio.
The RD55 wasn't perfect, it didn't have half the functions of the Evoke, but it had the main ones and was half the cost.
It has SD memory capability, pause function, and the most important FM.
On Christmas, it was made a fuss of.
I got a 1Gb card to put in it as well, so it came loaded.
Thankfully, it can receive some DAB stations although not as many as I would like.
Of course, this will alter as more and more transmitters go fully digital.
Transferring to memory card is a breeze using either a USB lead or plugging the card into a memory card reader.
The radio itself is neat and clean looking. It can take batteries, although these are C cells (6 of them) and would definitely weigh it down.
It has been used purely on the mains so far, but it has the capability in summer that it could be taken with them.
The pause facility is excellent, although this works only on DAB.
The unit has a nice clear display which can display various things like time/date , station, track info etc.
As I said, the signal turns out to be fairly poor in our area.
This unit auto tunes and finds only about 4 stations.
Thankfully, the unit can also be manually tuned, see the DAB site at the top of the article and it can then latch onto
The unit has an aerial, although misses out in that an external aerial can't be plugged in.
Audio quality is excellent, as you would expect.
Controls are easy to understand and appear well thought out with clear legends.
It also doesn't have a range of timers or alarms, but these weren't in my list of "must haves".
All in all, this unit has had a warm reception from the family and has increased the radio listening within the house.
A recommended unit for those that want a quality sound, without too high a price.
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