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This radio was bought as an engagement present for my husband and I when we first got engaged about eighteen months ago. My dad asked if there was anything we needed, and the only thing I could think of at the time was a decent alarm clock as we both used to use our mobile phones as alarms. Being my dad, he didn't just go to Argos and buy a £5 alarm clock, but instead, after much research, he presented us with this radio which is so much more than a radio. It retails at around £120, which I've only just found out through researching this review. I was quite surprised at first, but then when I thought about how much the radio is capable of, it does justify carrying this price tag.
There are literally pages of technical features which apply to this radio, but rather than listing them all here I would recommend that you visit http http://tinyurl.com/9pquyhd and take a look if you're interested. I will pick out the most relevant ones we've used since acquiring this radio.
The radio is portable, although it has battery backup we just use ours through the mains. It is capable of picking up WiFi, which allows it to connect to your home internet and stream music from your PC. I'll be honest, when my dad first told me about the stuff it was capable of, I didn't really "get" it, but my husband is very technically minded, so once he had it up and running I was really impressed. It's a DAB radio, so the sound and signal is excellent, but the ability to stream music from your laptop or PC is a great bonus of this radio. It's also relatively easy to do, you just set it to search your network and it will pick up music files from your PC. This means that in theory, you could have playlists on your laptop which could be picked up upstairs on the radio, with much better sound quality than your laptop. So theoretically, if you had time, you could set different playlists for when you're getting ready to go out, relaxing in the bath, having a romantic night, or something upbeat for doing the housework. Obviously I've never got round to doing this personally (!), but I appreciate its value. It can also play music from a USB memory stick, which is unusual for a radio.
The ability of this radio to pick up a clear signal is unlike any other radio I've known. It sounds crystal clear, and apparently has a 3-way speaker system which I guess adds to the clarity of sound. We have ours pre-set with our favourite radio channels, which include our local one which I like to listen to in the morning as an alarm, and a couple of other stations which are good for upbeat going out music for the rare occasion we have a night out. It actually has 15 pre-sets, but we only use a few of these. It can pick up radio stations from around the world but this isn't something we've needed or wished to do.
Roberts radios are notoriously high quality, and generally I find their products are quite retro in style. This one, however, is quite modern looking, although it's clean and classy in design, without too much fuss or clutter on the front. The front has buttons for setting channels, and two knobs either side for the volume and tuning. We generally tend to use the remote which came with it, as it's so simple and small it's easy to use. It has a high gloss black finish, although surprisingly this doesn't attract fingerprints like most high gloss products.
==So, you have an alarm clock now then?==
Annoyingly, as an alarm clock, the radio isn't brilliant. Although it's lovely to wake up to the radio rather than the screech of a mobile phone, it only allows you to set two different times on your alarm clock. This means that if we set an alarm for when my husband gets up, and a separate one for when I get up, we then have to reset one of the alarms for the weekend. This is only a small niggle as I'm aware most people wouldn't buy this purely for the alarm.
==I'll name that tune==
The screen on this radio is excellent and has an adjustable backlight. We have never needed to adjust ours but if you find it's too bright when you're using the radio in bed before sleeping or as an alarm, it's useful to know it can be adjusted. The screen displays the radio station you are listening to, which show is on (i.e. presenter/DJ), and when a song is playing it displays the artist and title. This is one of my favourite features as I quite often hear songs and think "I'd love to know who that is" only to find the DJ too busy rambling on with some "hilarious" anecdote and neglecting to reveal who the song is by. I don't want to witter on about the clock function too much, but it is a bit annoying that when the radio is on, the time gets relegated to a tiny spot in the corner of the screen, so you have to really squint to see what time it is. This is especially challenging when I'm deciding if it's time to get up in the mornings, as sometimes my blurred vision can misread the time!
==Would I recommend?==
This radio is expensive, but to call it a radio doesn't really do it justice. It has great capabilities to access radio stations from all over the world, stream music from your PC or laptop, and it can play music from a USB memory stick. Although you could probably use your laptop for the same purpose, the radio is absolutely crystal clear sound wise, and has some lovely features which you wouldn't find on cheaper radios. I'm really glad we received this as a gift, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a radio at the higher end of the budget range.
(This review is also posted on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)