We're generally sold on bedside DAB radios. Theassociated with low DAB bit rates aren't significant when you're listening to radio through the hazy veil of sleep -- so our review criteria are more forgiving. The £80 Gemini 19 has much to live up to though -- our long love affair with PURE's bedside delight, the , continues to this day. So, does the Gemini 19 have what it takes to displace the Chronos as our slumber interrupter of choice?
Despite the prominent Classic FM button on the top of the device, the Gemini 19 steers clear of totalitarianism and graciously allows you to tune in to competing radio stations. This is the first time we've seen specific station branding on a Roberts radio (although we have seen an from another manufacturer) and it makes you wonder how many other branded buttons these things will take before they become advertising hoardings. For the moment, at least, it's reasonably subtle.
The Gemini 19 is almost exactly the same size and shape as a car stereo. It seems slightly bigger than the Chronos, but it is a more orthodox shape -- the Chronos is triangular. The main control on the front of the radio is for tuning. This is obviously useful, but we would have preferred a more prominent on/off or snooze button since this is absolutely the most vital part of a bedside radio. You could argue that having a difficult-to-locate snooze button will actually make the radio more effective at getting you out of bed. In which case, Roberts' design is exceptionally clever. You decide.
Unusually for a bedside radio, the Gemini 19 has a proper antenna binding at the rear. This lets you connect everything from a TV antenna to a radio telescope. There's also an aux-in and line-out connection so that you can hook up another unit (such as an iPod) to it, or run the DAB radio through your stereo. There's no provision for battery operation, so this is staying firmly rooted in your house.
Other controls on the radio include Auto Tune and Info buttons, and a range of station presets. There's the power on/off button on the far right of the unit (remember that one -- you'll need to locate it at high speed in the morning), a Select button and then five numbered buttons. These are DAB radio presets.
Once the radio is powered up, you attach the aerial, plug it in and turn it on. Within a few seconds it autotunes to a selection of DAB stations. If you hold down the preset buttons for a few seconds, they lock to that particular station -- as expected.
The Gemini 19's blue screen is clear and bright. It's easy to read even from some distance away. Drowsy eyes should be able to focus on the digits from the wrong side of a king-size.