Robert’s Radio have been around for 80 years and over time have become a staple of well to do kitchens and living rooms across the land. Unlike some traditional brands however, they haven’t hidden behind their classic status as a reason to stagnate and they invited us down to have a hands on with some of their latest innovations in radio.
The most eye-catching radio on offer (with the possible exception of the Union Jack Revival radio) was the Messenger DAB/FM, affectionately dubbed the “egg timer radio” by everyone in the room. Asides from the basic DAB and FM radio functionality, the Messenger packed a host of kitchen-based innovations. There’s a little button on the top that allows you to record simple voice memos – “dinner’s in the oven”, “microwave this for 5 minutes” etc. It’s a neat touch to a sleek unit that is clearly designed to blend in with a modern kitchen. There is of course also an egg timer. RRP £100.
Ever been in the middle of listening to a fascinating debate on the wireless and had to answer the doorbell (or the call of nature)? The Robert’s Record R brings PVR like functionality to DAB and FM radio and enables you to pause or rewind live radio (for up to 60 minutes, after which you can head to the iPlayer). As the name suggests you can also record DAB and FM radio onto an SD card, which records in DRM-free mp3 format that you can playback on any compatible device without restrictions. RRP£100
The ubiquity of iDevices has not escaped Robert’s and they continue to develop their range of dock offerings, fanciest of which was the Fusion, a DAB/FM which has a hidden iPod dock that, at the press of a button, flips out and holds your iPod in either portrait or landscape. Nifty.
Have you experienced the joy of internet radio yet? It means you can access radio stations from around the world – so you can listen to that drivetime show you enjoyed so much while on holiday in the US, or indulge in a constant stream of hits from the eighties (if that’s your thing!)
Roberts, makers of some very desirable retro-styled radios (and experts in the manufacture of radios – the company started 80 years ago), have just introduced their very first internet-only radio, the Stream 105. This means that you can’t tune in using an aerial to get FM stations or even DAB radio. And you’ll need a wireless network at home as there is no option for connecting via Ethernet.
Compact, easy to use, and with the same simple styling we have come to love from Roberts, it is designed to be lightweight and portable – indeed you can use it on any public Wi-Fi hotspot if you so wish.
As seems to be de rigeur with many devices these days, the Stream 105 can be controlled using your iPhone or Ipod Touch, thanks to an app called ConnectR. This allows you to control volume and mode via your phone’s screen, as well as being able to set presets and alter tone control.
This is good news, as there is no touch-screen – or even screen – on the device, and otherwise everything needs to be done using the dial control.
The app also allows you to play music from your PC through the speakers of your internet radio – connect to your network and you’ll be able to access your albums, playlists and individual tracks at the click of a button.
The radio can also act as a speaker for your iPod or MP3 player, thanks to the presence of an auxiliary in-socket. There is also an alarm facility (choose from being woken by a buzzer or by your favourite radio station).
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.
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.