‘Everybody loves the sunshine,’ sang Roy Ayers, and so does this radio. Roberts introduced its first solarDAB in 2008 and the second generation is here, equipped with an integrated solar panel that’ll charge the batteries and power the radio without a plug socket in sight, making it perfect for camping or fishing trips. A sunny day should provide enough power to charge the battery and play tunes, making it one of the most eco friendly radios around. But the best news is that at around £80 it’ll leave a smaller dent in your bank balance than portable DAB radios from the likes of Revo and Pure.
Check out our Roberts SolarDAB pictures here:
More on Roberts radios
Roberts SolarDAB – Features
The most impressive feature of this radio is its low power consumption, which gives you phenomenal 27 hours of battery life when fully charged. There’s also a decent range of sockets, which includes a USB port for making upgrades, a minijack input for hooking up MP3 players and a headphones output. The DAB tuner is joined by an FM RDS tuner to enjoy stations that haven’t yet made the jump to digital. You can charge the SolarDab using mains power if there isn’t any sun.
Roberts SolarDAB – Design
At this sort of price don’t expect build quality to be up there with the Vita Audio R2i or the Pure Evoke Mio. The bodywork is more plasticky and the white finish will hardly get Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s pulse racing, but the more exotic black, red and green finishes might float your boat.
The front panel features a tidy row of clicky buttons, while soft-touch rubberised dials on the front and side let you change stations and crank up the volume – they’re chunky and responsive.
You’ll also find an LED display panel, which helpfully gives the station name and other handy titbits like the solar level, remaining power and signal strength. We prefer the OLED display on Pure’s Evoke Mio, but it’s still easy to read.
Roberts SolarDAB – Performance
At first we had trouble getting the Roberts to find any stations at all, even though other DAB radios tuned in perfectly in the same spot. But after moving around our room and fiddly with the aerial angle, we struck sonic gold, and it is worth the effort.
The SolarDAB’s sound quality is crisp and sprightly. With the volume turned up high, pop songs on Radio 1 are conveyed with sharp treble but don’t sound excessively bright. And to its credit there’s also a lot more bass in the mix than expected, although not quite as much as the more powerful Evoke Mio. It’s most comfortable with speech-based programmes from stations like Radio 4, making voices sound rich and prominent.
Overall then, the SolarDAB is a terrific radio, boasting lengthy battery life and crisp sound quality, while the solar panel is a unique, eco-friendly selling point. Its design isn’t the best and the picky DAB tuner is a pain, but the price and power-saving benefits are worth a few sacrifices.