Best Portable DAB Radio (UK 2017)

Last updated: 5 June, 2017

The choice of portable DAB radios in the UK is growing all the time, so it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one.

We’ve done the research for you and put together this roundup of the top portable DAB radios in different categories.

After looking at each of the top-selling portable DAB radios on the market in 2017, we recommend the Roberts Play as the best portable DAB radio for most people. We’ve reviewed this radio in more detail below.

Read on for more recommendations and for some advice on choosing a DAB radio.

What do we mean by “portable DAB radio”?

In this article, “portable DAB radio” refers to small (but not pocket-sized) DAB radios that either have a built-in battery or can be used with batteries. If you’re looking for a pocket DAB radio, we’ve picked out the best here.

Best Portable DAB Radio for Most People

No two people have the same needs, taste and budget, so there’s no single portable DAB radio that will be best for everyone. However, if we had to pick out one to recommend to most people it would be the Roberts Play.

Roberts Play

A great-value radio from a respected brand, with the useful addition of a built-in battery charger.

Buy online: £59.99 on Amazon.co.uk

The Roberts Play is a small portable radio that features a built-in battery charger so you can charge the batteries while it’s plugged in. It has a decent battery life (roughly 10-15 hours on DAB radio) and takes four AA batteries.

This radio is very easy to use and has an intuitive layout. You can save 5 preset stations on FM and 5 on DAB, and access them quickly using the dedicated preset buttons. This means you don’t have to scroll through a menu like you do on many other DAB radios.

The Roberts Play has a simple design and comes in a choice of colours: white, black, grey and blue. It has a rubberised exterior which helps protect it from knocks.

When it comes to features, the Roberts Play is quite basic, and it doesn’t have an alarm clock unlike many other portable DAB radios.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • 10 preset stations
  • Headphone socket
  • Built-in battery charger

Pros

  • Easy to use; intuitively designed
  • Built-in battery charger
  • Good DAB reception

Cons

  • Distorts when you turn it up loud
  • No alarm clock

Read our full review of the Roberts Play here or see other user reviews on Amazon.

 

Best Portable DAB Radio Under £50

The Roberts Play (our top recommended portable DAB radio) is sometimes available for less than £50, though it has an R.R.P. of £70. Apart from the Roberts Play, our favourite radio in this price range is the KitSound Jive. Please note, prices fluctuate so we can’t guarantee this radio will be available for less than £50 when you read this article.

KitSound Jive

A very stylish portable DAB radio, great for the kitchen or bedroom.

Buy online: £38.99 on Amazon.co.uk

The KitSound Jive is a very cool-looking 1950s-style portable DAB radio. It would look great in the kitchen—or anywhere else for that matter.

Unlike the Roberts Play reviewed above, the KitSound Jive has an alarm clock. The alarm clock lets you save two independent alarms, and there’s also a snooze function and a sleep timer, making it a good choice for the bedroom.

The Jive takes five C-sized batteries, which isn’t especially convenient. The radio can also be plugged into the mains.

This radio’s faux-leather covering feels realistic, and helps the KitSound Jive look more expensive than it is. There’s also a nice carrying handle making the radio easy to carry from room to room.

The Jive has a line-in socket, but unfortunately doesn’t have a headphone socket, so you should look elsewhere if you prefer to listen through headphones.

This radio has a simple and intuitive interface, and is generally very easy to use.

Features

  • FM/DAB radio
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Sleep timer
  • Line-in socket

Pros

  • Attractive retro design
  • Good value for money
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Fiddly volume control
  • Takes 5 C-sized batteries

Read our full review of the KitSound Jive here or see other user reviews on Amazon.

 

Best Portable DAB Radio Under £100

If you want a portable DAB radio with good sound quality, you really need to invest more than £50. In the £50-£100 price range you can find something with a warm yet crisp tone, like the Roberts Expression, which is our favourite portable DAB radio under £100. Please note, prices fluctuate so we can’t guarantee this radio will still cost less than £100 when you read this article.

Roberts Expression

Combines stylish and classy design with great sound quality.

Buy online: £82.99 on Amazon.co.uk

The Roberts Expression is a beautiful portable DAB radio with a wooden construction that helps give depth and warmth to its sound. This radio feels tough and durable, and should last longer than some of the cheaper alternatives.

One great thing about this radio is that it has a built-in battery charger so you don’t need to charge the batteries with a separate device. It takes four D-sized batteries but can also be powered by the mains alone.

Weighing roughly 1 kg, this radio is feels substantial without being too heavy to carry. It features a carrying handle so you can easily transport it.

This radio has nice rotary tuning and volume knobs, giving the radio a more old-fashioned feel than many other DAB radios which use buttons.

Unlike most portable DAB radio, the Roberts Expression has a good amount of bass. In fact, some people find it too bassy, which is something to be aware of before buying.

Like the Roberts Play reviewed above, the built-in battery charger is the star feature with this radio. However, like the Play the Expression also lacks an alarm clock, which is a shame.

Features

  • FM/DAB radio
  • Headphone socket
  • Built-in battery charger
  • Aux-in port

Pros

  • Nice warm tone
  • Looks smart and retro
  • Good build quality
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No alarm clock
  • Too bassy for some people

Read our full review of the Roberts Expression here or see other user reviews on Amazon.

 

Best Portable DAB Radio with Bluetooth

There aren’t many portable DAB radios on the market with Bluetooth. Most DAB radios with Bluetooth are mains-powered only. However, there are some good models out there, our favourite of which is the Sony XDR-V1BTD.

Sony XDR-V1BTD

With Bluetooth and stereo speakers, this is an impressive portable DAB radio.

Buy online: £123.98 on Amazon.co.uk

The Sony XDR-V1BTD is a stylish portable DAB radio with stereo speakers and Bluetooth. It uses NFC One-touch to let you instantly pair your smartphone so you can stream music, podcasts or online radio through the XDR-V1BTD’s speakers wirelessly.

This radio has an attractive and minimalistic design, and is available in white, black or brown. It’s upright design means it won’t take up much space on a kitchen countertop or bedside table (its dimensions are 10.6 x 11.7 x 17.2. cm).

This radio weighs 860 grams including the battery, so it’s not too heavy to carry around. The built-in lithium battery offers up to 25 hours of listening time, though in practice this is often much less.

Unusually for a portable radio it has stereo speakers, though there isn’t much of a sense of stereo separation as they’re so close together.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Stereo speakers
  • Bluetooth with NFC One-touch
  • Headphone socket
  • Adjustable EQ
  • Sleep timer

Pros

  • Bluetooth is reliable
  • Versatile
  • Good sound quality
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • DAB reception could be better

See other user reviews of the Sony XDR-V1BTD on Amazon.

Best Portable DAB radio CD player

Portable DAB radios with CD players tend to be ‘boomboxes’ like the Roberts Zoombox 3, which is our favourite portable DAB radio with a CD player.

Roberts Radio Zoombox 3

Packs tonnes of features into a small package.

Buy online: £94.99 on Amazon.co.uk

The Zoombox 3 is the latest in Roberts’ Zoombox line of portable radio CD players. It’s a very versatile radio, offering FM and DAB/DAB+ radio as well as USB and SD ports for playing MP3 and WMA files.

The CD player can play regular CDs as well as CD-RWs, so you have lots of options when it comes to listening to music. You can also program your own playlists or randomly shuffle tracks.

This radio takes six C-sized batteries which should last for 25-35 hours, and it can also be used with mains power.

As you’d expect from Roberts, the Zoombox 3 has good sound quality and feels sturdy and well made. It could be a good choice for public events and exercise classes, though it would also be great for listening to at home or in the garden.

This radio offers an impressive list of features for the price.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • CD player
  • USB and SD ports
  • Bass boost function

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Very versatile
  • Compact
  • Good build quality

Cons

  • Relatively pricey

Read our full review of the Roberts Zoombox 3 here or see other user reviews on Amazon.

 

Best Portable DAB Radio for the Car

If your car doesn’t have a built-in DAB radio receiver, you could use a pocket DAB radio and plug it into your car stereo’s aux-in port. If you want to try this, check out our roundup of the best pocket DAB radios.

However, a better alternative is to get a plug-and-play adapter. These adapters are designed to convert your old car stereo into a DAB radio. See our recommendations of the best plug-and-play DAB car radio adapters here.

 

Choosing a Portable DAB Radio

Whether you’re buying your first DAB radio or are already familiar with digital radio, here are some pointers to make sure you choose the right portable DAB radio for you.

  1. Portable or pocket? In this article, ‘portable’ refers to radios that you can carry around, but are too large to fit in your pocket. See this article for our recommendations for pocket radios: Best Pocket DAB Radios
  2. What’s your budget? The cheapest portable DAB radios cost under £30, while the most expensive can cost over £200. The most popular portable DAB radios in 2017 usually cost around £40-£50.
  3. Which features do you need? A basic portable DAB radio will usually have FM/DAB radio, the ability to save preset stations, a clock and often an alarm. More advanced radios may have Bluetooth, multiple alarms, a USB port, a built-in battery charger, a CD player, an iPod dock, or the ability to stream music and online radio via the internet. It’s good to have a list of the features you’re looking for in your radio.
  4. Which brand? Some of the best known DAB radio brands are Pure and Roberts, who produce generally reliable products that normally receive good ratings from users. Some lesser known brands like Majority and Pictek are generally cheaper, though have less prestige.
  5. What size & style do you want? Portable DAB radios come in all shapes, sizes and designs. Do you want something small and minimalistic, or bigger and more retro? What colour radio do you want? Take a look at the radios reviewed below to get some ideas for the kind of styles you like.

Here are some things to look out for when choosing a portable DAB radio:

  • Battery life: DAB radio eats through batteries quicker than FM radio does, and many people are disappointed by how short the battery life on portable DAB radios is. If you will be using the radio on battery power frequently, try to choose a radio with the best possible battery life.
  • Battery type: Portable DAB radios have different battery types. Some have a built-in rechargeable battery. This can result in a longer battery life than you’d get from AA or other regular batteries, but battery packs can be expensive to replace. Other radios will take rechargeable AA batteries, and may even have a built-in battery recharger.
  • Sound quality: In general, smaller radios have worse sound quality than larger radios. Since portable radios tend to be smaller, it can be hard to find a portable DAB radio with really good sound quality. If you’re willing to spend a decent amount, you can find portable radios with very good sound quality. If budget is a priority, you will have to compromise a bit on sound quality, but should try to find something that isn’t tinny.

How much should you spend on a portable DAB radio?

Portable radios range in price from around £25 to over £100. If you want something small and simple and aren’t too concerned about sound quality, you can get a good radio for less than £50. Some of the cheapest portable DAB radios are the Goodmans Canvas and the Majority Histon, which both offer good performance for the price.

If you want something with better sound quality, you should invest closer to £100. Take a look at the Roberts Expression, which has a nice warm tone with plenty of bass. Another nice-sounding radio is the Pure Evoke H2, which isn’t portable by default—you have to buy a separate battery pack.

Where should you buy a portable DAB radio?

One of the cheapest places to buy a portable DAB radio is Amazon, though you can also find some good bargains at John Lewis, Sainsbury and Tesco.

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