I liked the look of the Sony XDR-M1 dab radio when I used it a few years ago but as I find with so many Sony products; they often look good but their durability and functionality are too often a let down. The Sony XDR M1 DAB certainly looks chic and feels comfortable in the hand. It offers good quality digital radio reception but has the still necessary FM waveband in case you're out of a DAB reception area.
The device is powered by two AA batteries that will only last you for about 9 hours which isn't really that impressive when you compare it to the likes of the Pure Digital Pocket Dab 1000 that offers more than 15 hours. So you'll be going through quite a lot of batteries which makes it a thumbs down in terms of being environmentally friendly. Most pocket DAB radios have some kind of rechargeable battery pack that would have been far more convenient.
The radio has an inverse LCD display that can be backlit but you have to press a button in order to illuminate it. The top line of the screen indicates whether you are tuned in via DAB or FM alongside a time display. On the left is a signal strength indicator. Underneath this the display shows the transmitter you're receiving from, the station you're tuned into and the type of radio station. There is also a line of scrolling text below that indicates any information the station is sending out. The display looks good with stylish white on black dot matrix lettering but because the text on the screen appears light upon a dark background it's quite hard to see especially if you have it outside in sunlight.
Navigation is provided by an up/down circular button in the centre of the unit, but I didn't think much of this in use. You have to be very careful when changing stations because it's so easy to go past the station you want. It's also irritating when you have to set the contrast of the screen. You have to remember though that this DAB radio is a bit of an antique now, it's more than two years old! As a result, the mechanism for scanning for new DAB stations is a bit complex and tiresome as there is no facility for auto-scanning new stations, for example, when you move to a different part of the country. However, the rest of the unit does look impressive with big silver buttons that enable you to access the menu and switch between DAB and FM.
Most importantly perhaps, the sound quality on the XDR-M1 is pretty good with the digital reception satisfactory overall depending on your location. Generally reception is still better in big cities as opposed to being out in the countryside. The volume control is on the side and a remote control is integrated into the headphones. As is common with such devices the headphone cable acts as the aerial. This has a clip on the back and features a hold button.
Taking all things into consideration I wouldn't recommend the Sony XDR-M1 because I know there are other pocket DABS out there that have better features and a better price. For example the Pure Pocket DAB or the similarly-priced Philips DA1000 which I eventually decided to buy. These alternative pocket DAB radios might appear a bit less stylish but for me at least the Philips is far more user friendly.
Up to 9 hours playback.
DAB/FM tuner with 40 station presets.
Large 4 line backlit LCD display.
Inline remote control.
Stereo headphones supplied.
AC power cord supplied.
Requires 2 x AA batteries
Size: (H)8, (W)6, (D)2.1cm.
Price £105 from www.dabs.com