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Oono miniDAB: The DABinci Code

Despite its funny name and Elephant Man looks, the Oono miniDAB will thrill and delight the hardest heart.

Woody Allen once said that "80 per cent of success is showing up", and by this rationale the Oono's unbidden arrival on our desk this morning assures it a positive response. Luckily for Oono (dangerously close to sounding like the exclamation "oh no!"), this pocket DAB-MP3 player-voice recorder combo is not just a headline writer's dream -- it's actually rather good.

Expecting a dismal, patchy performance from the on-board tuner, we were greeted by fairly reliable reception that dealt well with the challenges of the building we're in. Tuners tend to rely on good aerials to maintain a strong DAB signal, but the Oono uses the headphone lead as a replacement for the traditional telescopic aerial.

The LCD readout on the Oono will please radio enthusiasts, as there's a reassuring amount of technical-looking information on the screen. Most illuminating of all is the information on the bit-rate of the DAB station you're listening to. DAB haters will load up on plenty of ammo from this meter as it quickly becomes apparent that many DAB stations are broadcasting at around 80Kbps (as well as using an inferior codec to MP3).

Low bit-rate is no great loss for listening on the move, where environmental noise will be more distracting than audio quality, but still, talk about rubbing salt in the wound of broadcasters who struggle to convince us that DAB is sonically superior to FM.

The Oono is no looker, but functionally we're impressed. Expect a full review soon. -CS