DAB radios are becoming cheaper and cheaper as the technology becomes commonplace in British homes. However, some users can experience problems in receiving DAB radio. When reception is weak, DAB broadcasts tend to sound ‘bubbly’, and in some cases they’ll cut out altogether.
Mobile and portable DAB radios offer a different choice of stations to FM radio, with popular stations such as BBC 6 Music being limited to DAB only. What happens if you purchase a portable DAB radio and struggle to receive your favourite station in certain areas of the house? In short, your radio ends up being less portable than you intended, or you end up switching back to FM radio which may not offer your favourite station at all.
A combined DAB and WiFi radio, such as the Roberts Stream 83i, offers a solution. This radio not only receives DAB and FM broadcasts, it can also utilise your existing internet connection to receive radio broadcasts that are available online. Your computer doesn’t even need to be switched on.. If you don’t have a wireless network at home, the Stream 83i has an ethernet port so you can connect it directly to your hub or router.
Not only does internet radio offer you a back-up plan when your DAB or FM signal struggles, you also get access to a wide range of other features that are exclusive to internet broadcasts.
Your choice is vastly increased when you purchase a combined DAB and internet radio. The internet connectivity of the Roberts Stream 83i will give you literally thousands of stations to choose from. Some of these are simply not available on DAB or FM, and many of them broadcast from other countries so they’re only available online in the UK. You’ll benefit from a really diverse selection of stations without having to switch on your computer.
Your favourite stations can be stored as presets, just like a normal radio or car stereo, so there’s no need to hunt through hundreds of stations to find your favourites. There’s even a web application for this – no need to fiddle with the buttons if you’re more comfortable using your computer.
Internet radio is usually pretty robust. If your wireless signal is strong and your internet connection isn’t too busy, your radio station won’t usually be interrupted because of bad reception.
For times when you want to listen to your own music, the Roberts Stream 83i will stream music from your desktop computer. It supports a wide range of file formats, including MP3, AAC and FLAC. Remember: due to a requirement for uPnP support, this will normally be easy to set up on a Windows PC, but you may need to do a little extra configuration if you’ve got a Mac or use Linux.
So what’s special about the Roberts Stream 83i?
Cheaper DAB units tend to only have one speaker, so even if your favourite station is broadcast in stereo, you’d never be able to hear it that way. The 83i has a resonant wooden case with stereo speakers and a sub woofer for enhanced bass. It’s pretty impressive for a portable unit. With the audio in jack, you can even use the 83i as a speaker for your mp3 player, iPod, iPhone, iPad, smartphone or any device with a standard audio out socket. And if you need a little privacy, or a volume boost, you’ll find headphone and line out sockets on the back of the device as well.
Most impressive of all, the Roberts Stream 83i can stream directly from the last.fm website. Last.fm is a service that analyses your favourite music and recommends things you might like to listen to. On the front of the radio you’ll find buttons to ‘like’ or ‘ban’ tracks that last.fm streams, so it integrates tightly and your preferences are stored online to shape your custom stream in future. Add multiple last.fm accounts for different people and the music you play will be scrobbled back to the selected account. You do need to subscribe to last.fm to make use of these features, but the cost is not generally prohibitive. You can also use the radio to use the BBC’s Listen Again service and catch up with all the shows you’ve missed. If you’re a fan of podcasts, use the Roberts Stream 83i to download those too.
With an included AC adaptor and a handy remote control, we think the Roberts Stream 83i is a radio to be reckoned with. The integration with Listen Again and last.fm is a wonderful added extra, and you always have FM and DAB to fall back on if you prefer.
Photo by Maximilian Hofer on Unsplash