Minuet DAB Radio: Put simply, it’s child’s play!

The benefits of buying your child a radio are more multi-faceted than the fact they can keep the kids ‘out of your hair’ by keeping them entertained for hours. Apart from relishing with delight that they have been given their very own grown-up technological ‘gadget’, evidence has proven that listening to the radio can develop listening and speaking skills in children, particularly young children.

Minuet-DAB

With this knowledge firmly on-board, Magicbox, a manufacturer of affordable DAB radios and other communication devices, has launched the Minuet – a simple, affordable and funky DAB radio, comparably fantastic for both adults and children.

Available in both black and pink – to cater for either gender – this stylish yet simple and uncomplicated radio provides access to up to 250 commercial and 34 BBC radio stations. Although it has to be said that part of the fun of ‘playing with’ a radio, is meticulously moving the tuning dial, painstakingly trying to find more radio stations before spending another half an hour trying to fine-tune a station to make it relatively audible. DAB radio’s predisposition to have the time, date and stations automatically added, arguably takes some of the fun out of searching and seeking out some unregulated pirate radio station, being illegally transmitted off the Caribbean coast.

Nonetheless DAB radio has simplified this process and in doing so have, in actual fact, made radios much more ‘child-friendly’. Maintaining its child-friendly status the Minuet displays information about the digital station on a bright and backlit, two line display, which displays station names in alphabetical order rather than by frequency – another educational attribute. Although the information displayed does not stop at the station’s name, as also provided on the vivid screen, is data about signal strength as well as information about each individual station.

Being equipped with a headphone socket will also delight your children endlessly as they will be able to listen to their music privately, without the interfering ears of Mum and Dad monitoring their listening habits.

At just £29.99, I think the Minuet DAB Radio would make an excellent birthday gift to educate and entertain the kids.

Magicbox Tower iPod alarm dock review

More and more iPod dock alarm clocks seem to be hitting the market. After all it’s a natural fit – you have all that space by your bedside table, an iPod or iPhone (if you’re reading this your chances of owning one are oh so high) and a need to get up early. Whilst some tout an incredibly small form factor or an insanely cool look, magicbox are highlighting the Tower’s room-filling sound.

Magicbox-Tower

And fill the room it does. For something so small (it’s smaller than two tins of beans on top of each other or 15 cm if that’s how *you* measure things), the Magicbox Tower has an impressive bass-y sound, far less tinny than other iPod alarm clock docks I’ve come across. I’d happily use the Tower as an speaker without ever troubling the FM radio or alarm clock functions. The Tower is also surprisingly well built and has a nice solid feel to it. I didn’t drop my review unit (honest) but if I did, I’m pretty sure it’d be ok.

This multipurpose unit acts as an alarm, DAB/FM radio, iPod docking station and iPod charger and is compatible with all generations of the iPod and iPhone. The radio is also excellent, coming as it does, with an old fashioned telescopic metal aerial, instead of a wire which I’m used to seeing. Bundling in DAB radio is also a great addition at this price level and a nod towards the more advanced iPod docks on the market that come with amazing streaming capabilities (if you have the cash, look into the £200+ dock market and prepare to be blown away). There are also bundled station presets and you can scan for available stations.

The Magic Box Tower is about £70, placing it at the higher end of the alarm clock dock range. However for the price you get a DAB radio and a pretty amazing sounding iPod dock.

Intempo RDI-02 iPod dock: Apple rumble

Steve Jobs once stood up and said, “an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. These are not three separate devices. This is one device.” And in a single act of technological convergence, Apple changed the face of the mobile phone industry. The developers at Intempo also believe in uniting functionality, which is why they made the RDI iPhone dock with built-in DAB radio. And then, again like Apple, they made a newer version that blew the old one away – the RDI-02.

Intempo-iPod-dock

The built-in DAB radio is the key difference between an Intempo RDI-02 and a normal iPod dock. Intempo has been pushing DAB technology from the very start, and its advanced digital radios have filled houses around the UK for years.

It also means that they’re experts at packing a lot of sound from a very small space, which is what they’ve improved on over the RDI-01. Despite retaining the same, compact form, the engineers at Intempo have managed to squeeze in speakers that produce a huge 50 watts. The output comes from two mid-range speakers, accompanied by a bass-boosting sub-woofer.
While no-one has had a chance to play with one yet, CNET’s review of the older model seems like a fair summary of the Intempo sound: “

On the whole, sound quality’s pretty good for the price. Although a little heavy in the high-end, audio is well-driven and volume booms up to a good level. A little acoustic rock from Dashboard Confessional highlighted the RDI’s bright sound, but also that it offers enough oomph to give the floor a bit of a rumble.”

With the RDI-02’s bigger output (up from the 30 watts of the previous model), that “bit of a rumble” is sure to be more far more earth-shaking than before.

The other major upgrade is on the controls. Gone are the buttons of yester-year (another thing Apple helped innovate away), replaced by a touch-panel. This not only makes the piano black device more attractive, but it also feels more futuristic.
There’s a remote control (with 23 buttons, so much touch-panel there), letting you remotely change even the most nitty-gritty settings like treble and bass. It also includes a menu key to access all of your iPod settings and playlists, as well as up to 16 radio presets.

Our personal favourite touch, however, is the alarm clock. You can choose to wake up to a traditional buzzer, the radio or, and this is the best part, your favourite tunes from your iPod. Personally, we recommend recording an MP3 of a loved one gently whispering in your ear, ala Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky.

The DAB and FM radio itself has all the functions you’d expect from a brand like Intempo. There’s a pretty decent autoscan, and a simple button for switching between DAB or FM – as well as the iPod speaker dock. If your iPod or iPhone is away on leave, you can tuck the pull-out dock away to leave an almost seamless-looking radio.

If you are an iPhone user, it’ll even let you answer your phone while rocking out, automatically cutting in to a song when you receive a call. And if you’re not an Apple user at all, there is also an AUX-IN port for plugging in other audio devices via the 3.5mm mini-jack.

Robert’s Radio preview

Latest Gadgets met up with the team from Roberts Radio to have a look at the cutting edge of digital radio. Well over a hundred years old, radio has a hard time qualifying as a Latest Gadget, but is an amazing example of continual reinvention in the gadget world and some of devices on display managed to get my weary, gadget saturated eyes excited.

Roberts-Radio

The most eye catching of the Roberts range is the COLOURstream (pictured) which throws different types of audio into one sleek looking (and apparently acoustically tuned) wooden cabinet. Featuring a nifty little touchscreen (everything has a touchscreen these days) the stream is pretty easy to operate. One of the buttons on the homescreen is for Last FM, enabling direct access, and even cooler apps coming to the platform so it’s perfectly possible that a Spotify App could be released onto the device at some point in the future.

Another unit which impressed me was the STREAM 61i. FM and DAB are obviously included and a little USB port at the front means nothing stands between you and your tunes. Internet connectivity, both wireless and wired, means you can also access your music from your home network. You can also connect to URLs, so streaming Internet radio stations are available to you. An iPod dock is also throw in and thanks to the SD card reader, you can rip tunes to SD as well as record radio programs.

Aside from the workhorse that is the Stream 63i, I was also impressed by the iStream, which is part of the Revival range. The iStream is more of a conventional looking DAB, clad in a traditional leather case but with a fully modern feature set including wireless Internet access.

In addition the award winning solarDAB, caught my eye. A radio with an integrated solar panel, the solarDAB can apparently get approximately 20 hours charge and seems an ideal picnic companion.

The full Roberts radio range should be heading to stores and online retailers near you over the next couple of months.