Digital radio will finally begin in Australia in May, 2009. As is always the case, you will pay a premium to own new technology. The most basic DAB+ clock radio product will set you back several hundred dollars at least, and higher end products can cost several times that again. Some of the higher end products justify their price with additional networking features, others with iPod docks and CD players. Some, quite frankly, don’t justify it at all.
The good news is that, thanks the mature digital radio market abroad, there is already a wide selection of products available, suitable for every taste and use. Already the range of digital radio products runs the gamut, from basic portable to high-end internet radio stations, and everything in between.
The digital radios
Click the links below, and read the full reviews of 12 digital radios. All are expected to go on sale in the first week of May 2009.
Arcam FMJ T32 DAB/FM/AM tuner – the Arcam FMJ T32 component-sized tuner is a product designed for the hardcore radio enthusiast. It’s expensive, heavy and doesn’t have integral speakers, but it delivers incredible audio quality.
Grundig GDR710DABIP – Grundig’s GDR710DABIP is a combination digital radio, iPod dock and FM radio, and comes with a credit card-sized remote that provides fast access to the major functions.
Pure Chronos iDock – the Pure Chronos iDock is a digital radio and an iPod dock, with an unresponsive credit-card remote and buttons that require too much pressure to press.
Pure Evoke Flow – the Pure Evoke Flow digital radio looks retro with its styling and simple two-knobs, five-buttons interface, but is one of the most advanced digital radios on offer.
Pure One Elite – the Pure One Elite digital radio, a two-speaker FM and DAB+ radio, which includes a time-shifting capacity called ReVu that allows you to pause and skip through live broadcasts, much like a PVR does for TV.
Pure Siesta – the Pure Siesta digital radio is a fair clock radio, but as we’re seeing a lot with these early DAB+ radios, the price is rather steep for what’s on offer.
Revo Pico DAB+ – Revo’s Pico DAB+ digital radio provides quality audio, a stylish and solid design, a user interface that’s simple and logical and a useful remote make it a product worth having.
Revo Uno – the Revo Uno digital radio is designed primarily for use as clock radio. It’s DAB+ capabilities are not tremendously compelling, and its single 5 cm driver cannot do justice to the extra clarity that DAB+ provides.
Roberts Ecologic 4 – the Roberts Ecologic 4 digital radio is not a product that has a lot of cool extra frills, like internet access or timeshifting, but its quality speakers, dial controls and long battery life make this an impressive product for its price, and a recommended purchase.
Roberts Sound 43 – the Roberts Sound 43 digital radio unctions as an iPod dock and CD player as well as radio tuner – and it performs all three functions very well.
Sangean DPR-69 Plus – the Sangean DPR-69 Plus digital radio not a pretty device, nor is it the source of the highest quality audio on the market, but it is just about the most portable digital radio you can get right now.
Tivoli Audio NetWorks – the Tivoli Audio NetWorks digital radio is easily the most ambitious of the first release digital radios, supporting internet radio as well as DAB+ and media playback from USB storage devices and networked PCs.
Of the products we looked at, it’s hard to go past the Pure Evoke Flow for features and fun, and that would be our pick of the batch. It’s a combination digital radio, internet radio and network media player. It’s slick and easy to use, had the best display of any radio and was beautifully integrated with an online music and radio service. It’s expensive, but it changes the radio experience dramatically.
Tivoli Audio’s NetWorks worked in a similar way, and had even more features and better sound than the Evoke Flow, and may well have been our editor’s pick if it weren’t for the price and the control system. A word to Tivoli Audio – if you’re going to force us to use a remote, at least give us a good remote.
Other highly commended products include the Pure One Elite and the Roberts Sound 43.