Roberts solarDAB review: Roberts solarDAB

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Pricing Unavailable

The Good Excellent DAB reception; solar-powered; L Band reception.

The Bad No FM tuner; overly enthusiastic station listings.

The Bottom Line In the small, light and highly portable solarDAB, Roberts has achieved a good combination of smart energy collection, practical design and appealing looks. It's not without its faults -- chiefly its weak speaker and lack of FM tuner -- but, for gardeners and campers, it's a great choice

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No radio is more aptly named. Capped by a chunky solar cell and with a rechargeable battery under the hood, the £70 Roberts solarDAB is a receiver for the Kyoto Protocol generation. It looks to the future -- an age in which the digital switchover renders FM redundant and the National Grid finally buckles under the weight of all those plasma TVs -- and shows us how much better and easier the eco option could be.

Small but ambitious
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the solarDAB is ambitious. In fact, it's too ambitious. Although it found 90 stations in our test area when other radios achieved closer to 40, most were blank or marked as 'service not available'. That made selecting stations somewhat tedious. Its sibling, the RD-60, gave us a choice of only one Heart station, but the solarDAB gave us three, of which one was silent, one worked and the other was marked as unavailable. The same went for the three Kiss stations, while none of the three Magic stations had any audio stream at all.

The solarDAB tunes to both Band III and the less-used L Band, which was formerly used for the transmission of black-and-white TV, and is now more common in continental Europe. That makes this radio an excellent choice for holidays and travel -- not only will you be able to charge its batteries on your hotel balcony, you'll also be able to pick up local DAB broadcasts. It's also small enough and, at less than 700g, light enough to throw into your hand luggage.

The solarDAB is available in a range of fetching colours

If it included an alarm function, it would be the perfect travelling companion. Its build quality is excellent, and, although the aerial won't retract into the body when fitted onto the top of the unit, it can be removed altogether and stowed around the back. Like each end of the casing, the aerial's lower 11cm, which is always on display, is encased in grey rubber, which protects it from minor bumps and scuffs. The aerial is capped by a grey plastic hat to protect your eyes.

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Where to Buy

Roberts solarDAB

Part Number: CNETRoberts solarDAB

Typical Price: £70.00

See manufacturer website for availability.