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Roberts Radio is one of the stalwarts of the British radio industry. It has been making portables since 1932, with the emphasis on products that express the owner's personal style. Its digital radios continue in the same vein -- as long as your style is somewhat retro.
The Gemini 11 combines an old-school wooden and leatherette case with digital innards. It picks up both DAB and FM broadcasts, enabling you to keep a foot in both worlds, and has some high-tech features, including the ability to pause and rewind digital radio.
Viewed from the front, the Gemini 11 could be a conventional AM/FM radio, or even an old-fashioned valve radio. A silvery metal grill covers the stereo speakers and is surrounded by a blue leatherette fascia. The end panels are wooden and the handle completes the materials catalogue by being part plastic and part leatherette.
Viewed from above, it looks like an oversized car stereo in a leatherette box. All the controls are on the top, surrounding the generously sized 97 x 22mm LCD. They are clearly labelled using silver text that stands out from the jet-black background.
On the back you'll find a telescopic aerial that extends to 0.8m, Line Out and Headphone sockets, and a socket for the standard 'figure eight' mains cable. We like the fact that the transformer is tucked away inside, rather than built into the plug. Hiding underneath is a battery compartment that accepts six D-size batteries. Roberts recommends you use mains power "whenever possible", but at least you have the option to take it on a picnic.
When you switch on the radio for the first time, it automatically scans the UK Band III DAB channels. Scanning takes around 30 seconds and a bar chart keeps you informed of the radio's progress. Once the autotune is complete, the stations are sorted into order and it selects the first station on the list -- probably 1Xtra.
You can scroll through the list of stations by turning the Tuning knob, which clicks round in one-station increments, or by pressing the Up and Down buttons. Holding down one of the buttons lets you zip through the list so quickly that you can barely make out the names. Once you've found your station, press the Select button to switch to it (if you find the two-step process annoying, you can configure the radio so it automatically switches to the selected station).
The Gemini 11 can also receive FM broadcasts. To change bands, you simply press the FM/DAB button, then find the stations using the Tuning knob or the Up/Down buttons. Each click or press changes the frequency by 0.05MHz, so you'll find yourself flicking up and down to find the clearest broadcast. You can also scan by holding down one of the buttons. On the plus side, the Gemini 11 supports RDS, so once you've found a station, you can check the display to find out its name.