Dualit DAB radio £200
30th Sep 2006 | 23:00
Beautiful but basic, this radio is good to look at
Digital radios usually fall into one of two categories: so far, none have been both stylish and heavy on features.
Given the extra features that have appeared on DAB radios of late - such as recording to SD card, MP3 playback and access to a seven-day Electronic Programme Guide - maybe the marriage of simplicity, style and advanced features is asking too much.
Beautiful, but basic, the Dualit doesn't fall into a new category. Instead, it becomes easily the most eye-catching, and most importantly, well-built, DAB radio we've seen.
Its round-edged, mirrored aluminium shell either side of a rubber-look body - complete with a heavy-duty handle - could possibly be one of the most durable products ever produced. Industrial strength it may be, but, just like the aga oven it's clearly designed to accompany, this DAB radio's simple functionality is just as impressive as its build quality.
It's the polar opposite to the Bug Too, Pure's latest stab at an iconic DAB radio. While Pure and other DAB manufacturers pack in the features, Dualit has focused on style, but not overlooked the substance. Because beneath the cool, retro, 1950s style shell is a simple, but quite brilliant, DAB radio.
Yes, it has its limitations borne of that desire for cool. A mono speaker is the first obvious no-no, but the 8W speaker deals so confidently with both dialogue and music that we can forgive Dualit, especially as there is a speaker output for hooking it up it up to stereo speakers.
Dials at each end control volume and tuning between stations, respectively, while between them is a blue LED that displays the station name, scrolling text and time in white. The brightness can be adjusted, while a simple mode button switches between DAB, FM and auxiliary mode.
If it is aimed solely at the kitchen, there are, at least, a few nice extras. A standard phono input makes it simple to use the Dualit as a portable speaker for a MP3 player, or maybe as a simple PC/laptop speaker. There's even an optical output for all-digital hook-up to an amplifier. Home cinema in the kitchen? Now there's a thought.
More flexibility comes in the shape of not just an alarm and snooze function - albeit alongside a kitchen timer - but also a built-in battery. Charging when attached to the mains, it means the Dualit can be taken into another room and work, without external power, for up to four hours DAB listening - and double that for FM radio.
But, if you forget to switch the unit off at the back - and you might do, given that this must be the only radio with such a 'feature' - the Dualit will warn you just before the battery runs dry. Cue 4am wake-up call!
With its 1950s styling, this great little DAB radio looks like a toaster. Luckily, Dualit's first digital radio isn't much more complicated and is styled to match its famous, and expensive, Vario bread griller to such an extent that we can easily see this becoming a must-have product.
Basic, but hard to fault, the Dualit DAB is a kitchen classic in the making.