It has been around since 1995 and is steadily gathering momentum; it is destined to take over the airwaves. We are talking about DAB radio or Digital Audio Broadcasting, also known as high-definition radio or, quite simply, digital radio.
There are numerous types of DAB radios on the market, each with their own selling points. In this article, we’ll look at the portable models which are ideal for taking out to picnics, road trips or simply listening to it anywhere in your home; some are small enough to fit inside pockets too. Without further ado, here are our 8 best best portable DAB radios of 2017 reviewed.
What is DAB Radio?
DAB radio is audio converted and transmitted as a digital signal which offers a whole bunch of advantages, particularly in clarity and sound quality.
It’s a world in constant evolution: an updated and enhanced version of DAB radio has also been developed (DAB+), and the FM frequency broadcast band has also gone digital with the addition of RDS (Radio Data System) that, like DAB, provides extra text information, anything from the time, to the weather, to traffic info, to who is singing.
The advantages of DAB radio are manifold: dozens of extra radio stations, perfect tuning, clarity of reception, great choice of station types and, above all, great sound. The sound quality is DAB radio’s main virtue; it is CD quality with absolutely no interference or background noise.
The complete switch-over to the DAB radio system is scheduled for the near future, so now is the moment to get updated and ready for it.
Our 8 Best Portable DAB Radios of 2017 Reviewed
8. Pure One Mi Series 2
- Palm sized for easier transportation
- Listen on the go with the optional rechargeable ChargePAK battery which provides up to 18 hours of play time.
- 3 Year Warranty
Small outside, but big inside; this Pure-One digital radio fits comfortably into your palm but contains a great host of radio stations. Apart from the usual FM channels for local stations, there are loads of extra digital stations for your listening pleasure. There are also sixteen quick access channels where you can save your favourite stations, both digital and FM.
This very small but sophisticated radio is future-ready (Digital-Tick-approved); it is primed for the Digital Radio Switchover and new features can be easily added via its USB slot. An interesting option is the high-capacity ChargePAK. Although small, like the radio itself, this powerful charger can give you up to 18 hours of extended listening time through its speakers or a headphone jack.
7. Goodmans Pocket GDPRDAB
- Super slim pocket DAB radio allows you to easily take it anywhere with you
- Multi-language menu which can be a useful option for bilingual users
- Radio signal strength indications are helpful when you’re on the move in different locations
Weighing in at a scant 41 grams, this ultra-slim, ultra-light pocket DAB radio sits snugly and unobtrusively in any pocket. It captures both FM and digital radio and rates among the best portable dab radios in the compact size category. In spite of its small dimensions, it’s still equipped with a clearly refined speaker as well as a headphone socket.
It runs off a rechargeable lithium ion battery which gives six hours of playback time in speaker mode, or if you prefer to use the headphones, your time is more than doubled: the battery lasts up to 13 happy-listening hours.
6. Goodmans CANVASCOP
- Portable Digital Radio in a Minimalistic Style – It has the typical portable radio look that we used to know, but with digital performance
- Simple to Use – A minimum of clearly labelled buttons make it really user-friendly
- Small and lightweight – Weighs only 349grams, allowing easy transportation for anyone
It has a charm all of its own. Goodmans portable digital radio in copper, ruby or steel reflects the style of that old transistor radio that used to sit on the kitchen shelf. Its dimensions are similar to a small paper-back book, it is little and light and perfectly suited to be carried around.
Yet, with its hi-fi-speaker look, it sits so well on that kitchen shelf, as if it belongs exactly there, stylishly transmitting clear digital sound that belies its almost-vintage, traditional design.
It runs on mains or AA cell alkaline batteries which give up to 9 hours of listening time. It supports DAB and FM, it gives a high-quality and clear sound, and the clearly labelled row of buttons across the top make it extremely easy to use, no matter if a child or elderly person is controlling it.
5. Roberts Radio Unologic
- Built-in Battery Charger – Allows you to use regular or rechargeable AA batteries which is more energy efficient
- One-touch access to your favourite radio station
- Play audio from a seperate MP3 player via the line-in socket
The Roberts Radio Unologic portable digital radio is part of their the brand’s range of economical DAB radios, and this one offers a built-in battery charger, with the option to use rechargeable or non-rechargeable AA sized batteries. You can easily switch the power supply mode which helps to save energy. Because of its energy conservation, battery life lasts up to an impressive 20 hours.
Another useful feature is the one-touch access to your favourite station, a great time saver. A useful feature to the Unologic is the seperate line-in socket which lets you play your favourite music from an iPod or another MP3 player – essentially, the DAB radio acts as a speaker. There is also a USB socket for software updates.
4. Sony XDR-S40 Portable DAB Radio
- Can be powered by mains or AA batteries depending on if you’re staying at home or want to take it out
- Wake up to your favourite radio station thanks to the XDR-S40’s clock radio sleep timer
- Choice of 3 different colours – black, red or white
The electronics giant, Sony, likes to deliver quality, and here your can appreciate the clear and crisp sound quality provided by the Sony XDR-S40 DAB radio: no interference, no hiss or crackle, no fading signal, just clear and first-rate reception.
The Sony digital radio has three direct reset buttons which allows you to quickly access up to ten radio stations. When not plugged into the mains, it operates on AA batteries, giving you the choice of power depending on if you’re at home or travelling.
Functioning as a clock radio too, you can set the radio to automatically turn on and off at certain times. With its versatility and stylishness, it’s no wonder why the Sony XDR-S40 is regarded as one of the best portable DAB radios around.
3. Roberts Radio Play10
- Power options as it can be powered by mains or AA batteries
- User-friendly buttons and dials presented at the top where they’re easier to access
The Roberts Play10 DAB radio takes up little space and is relatively lightweight at only 350 grams. At first glance it looks like a small, discreet camera that fits nicely into pockets or small handbags, but a closer look reveals a clear, easy to read star-burst display with deep blue back-lighting showing the name of the radio station.
Beside the display, there is an array of buttons which give access to various functions, presetting functions in particular, as well as dials for tuning and volume control. The buttons give the user quick and simple access as it’s located at the top on a downward slanted platform which provides easier access.
The Roberts Radio Play10 runs on mains (AC adaptor) or 4 x AA batteries, presenting you with a choice of continuous power or portability. It has a headphone socket for private listening and a USB socket for software updates. For those in search of that one particular, hard-to-find radio station, it also has a large dial for searching stations and manual tuning.
2. Roberts Radio ECO4BT Ecologic 4
- Stream music wirelessly with the built-in Bluetooth function which is rare to see in a portable DAB radio
- Huge 150 Hour Battery Life – When it’s not plugged into the mains, 6 x LR20/D Batteries provides many hours of listening
- Adjust the sound to the way you like it using the bass and treble dials
- Easy Carry Handle
The Bluetooth function is the most interesting characteristic of the Roberts ECO4BT Ecologic – You can listen to your favourite music wirelessly from your tablet, smart phone or any other Bluetooth enabled device. The radio doesn’t use rechargeable batteries, but they’re hardly necessary when you can enjoy 150 hours of music or radio programmes using standard size D batteries, or you can of course plug in to the mains.
The menu contains a wide range of options including twenty presets and useful bass and treble controls if you want to fine tune the speakers.
Users enjoy the sublime sound quality of this portable stereo DAB radio. Though not the smallest or lightest, the ECO4BT Ecologic 4 is just a touch larger than the typical small, compact portable radios (it has a robust handle for carrying around), but the sound it delivers has been compared to larger stereo systems.
1. Sony XDR-P1DBP Pocket DAB Radio
- Pocket sized DAB radio providing you with the ultimate portable experience
- Sound output and quality is increased thanks to the radio’s digital amplifier
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can easily be charged via an included USB cable – no more costly alkaline batteries
If you want the best kind of portable radio that fits comfortably and unobtrusively in your pocket, then look no further than the Sony XDR-P1DBP Pocket DAB radio. It is really small, about the size of a deck of cards, probably smaller than your smartphone. Yet, thanks to its exclusive digital sound amplification, it delivers impressive, top-end sound quality and volume above and beyond its diminutive proportions.
Users who have acquired this nifty mini-radio have all expressed their awe at the unexpected fullness and clarity of the sound. If you use the radio with headphones, you can enjoy stereo sound quality in a more discreet way. You can save up to 20 preset radio stations and auto tune to quickly discover new stations too.
In a rare showing, this pocket DAB/DAB+ radio has a built-in lightweight rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged using the USB cable included. Basically, this means you don’t have to buy and fidget about with any seperate alkaline batteries. When fully charged the battery gives up to 15 hours of loudspeaker listening time and 20 hours using headphones.
Contrasting the minimalist size and the maximum performance, this nifty pocket radio is widely regarded as the best portable DAB radio.