Perstel DR601 £120
1st Jan 2005 | 00:00
It's a lot to pay for a small DAB...
An old 1950s microphone that wouldn't look out of place in Elvis's fat hands is an odd inspiration for the design of a DAB radio, and at this fairly high price, it's a brave move from Perstel.
Its retro looks extend to a speedometer-style dial to operate volume, but not to the display screen, because Perstel has gone for a totally original layout. Although it's sloped for 'easy' viewing, the screen sits atop the unit and is not angled quite enough - this model needs to be placed on a kitchen shelf well below head height.
It's what's on the screen that comes as a shock, though. The tiny screen is packed with information - broadcaster, station name, genre of the broadcast, time, signal strength and DLS text.
Reading the DLS information broadcast by each station, such as news headlines, is frustrating because of its tiny size, but overall the LCD screen doesn't look crowded, much like the top of the unit.
Up there the large buttons are well labelled and a left/right/front/back pad controls access virtually all functions via the LCD menu. There are also five 'hotkeys' to store favourite stations on DAB and FM, separately.
Scrolling between DAB stations on the LCD's menus is simple, and stations tune in very quickly. Timer and alarm settings are also accessed via the LCD, as are settings for both the screen's contrast and the size of DLS text transmitted by each DAB station. It's even possible to adjust the speed the DLS text moves - unlike most DABs where it moves incredibly slowly. It's just a shame the LCD is so small.
Round the back it's all very basic, with just a headphone socket and an analogue line out for wiring up to an amp or hi-fi. On a unit this costly we had hoped for an optical connection. But below the LCD is where the real action is. For such a small unit the sound is impressive for its size, though hardly wowing.
A blue light best described as a 'blob' indicates a signal being received, which does seems a slight design faux pas for the retro feel, but overall this is a stylish, very easy to use and extremely customisable clock DAB radio perfect for a bedside table.