Best Portable DAB Radios (UK 2018)

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 10 portable DAB radios available in the UK in 2018.

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 Radios (UK 2018)

1. Roberts Play

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.

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 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.

Features

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

Dimensions: 16 x 10.5 x 3.5 cm
Weight: 386 g
Battery type: 4 x AA with 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

Summary

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. However, it’s a dependable portable DAB radio that offers good value for money. Read our full review of the Roberts Play here.

 

2. Pure Evoke H4 Portable DAB Radio

The Pure Evoke H4 is an attractive radio with good build quality from a respected British brand. It’s fairly expensive for the features it offers, but it comes with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty and is more reliable than some of the cheaper alternatives.

The Evoke H4 doesn’t come with a battery pack included, so it’s not portable by default. Instead, you need to buy the ChargePAK F1, which slots into the radio. The battery life is quite good for a portable DAB radio—it should last for 15-20 hours on a full charge. The battery pack charges while the radio is plugged into the mains, which is quite convenient.

The Evoke H4 has a convenient carrying handle which is useful if you’re using it as a portable radio. The handle also works as a snooze button when using the alarm clock function, which is great as it means you just have to tap the handle rather than scramble to find a snooze button when you wake up.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Sleep timer
  • Colour display

Dimensions: 22.1 x 18 x 12.8 cm
Weight: 1.4 kg
Battery type: Separate battery pack (not included)

Pros

  • Good build quality
  • Attractive and stylish design
  • Good sound quality
  • Lots of features

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Battery pack not included by default

Summary

If you want something versatile, stylish and with a premium feel, the Pure Evoke H4 is ideal. It looks very stylish and has a good range of features for a portable radio, including Bluetooth and an alarm clock. Read our full review of the Pure Evoke H4 here.

 

3. John Lewis Spectrum Solo Portable Digital Radio

John Lewis Spectrum Solo DAB Radio

The John Lewis Spectrum Solo could be a good choice if you want something very affordable. The Spectrum Solo doesn’t have a lot of features. For example, it doesn’t have Bluetooth or an alarm clock. However, it’s straightforward and easy to use. Tuning into your favourite stations is particularly easy as there are 5 dedicated preset buttons on the front.

While the Spectrum Solo doesn’t have a carrying handle, it’s easy to carry around as it weighs just 350 grams and is very compact (16.6 x 9.6 x 9.6 cm).

Like with many portable DAB radios, the batteries don’t last very long (about 10 hours) before they need recharging. This radio takes 4 AA batteries, so it’s not a good choice if you don’t have an AA battery charger.

Unsurprisingly, the Spectrum Solo doesn’t have as good sound quality as good as more expensive alternatives such as the Pure Evoke H4. However, given its small size and low price, it sounds decent.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Headphone jack
  • 5 preset buttons

Dimensions: 16.6 x 9.6 x 9.6 cm
Weight: 350 g
Battery type: 4 x AA batteries

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Available in a choice of colours

Cons

  • Sound quality could be better
  • No alarm clock
  • Batteries don’t last very long

Summary

The John Lewis Spectrum Solo is one of the best budget portable DAB radios on the market. It’s quite basic, but it’s cheap and easy to use. Read our full review of the Spectrum Solo here.

 

4. Majority Little Shelford

At the time of writing, the Majority Little Shelford is one of the most popular portable DAB radios in the UK. It’s a very affordable and compact DAB radio with a retro design. The Little Shelford comes in a choice of two colours: duck egg blue or cream.

The Little Shelford is convenient as a portable radio as it weighs less than a kilogram and features a useful carrying handle. The radio can be powered with a mini USB cable or

The radio can be powered by the mains or with 4 x AA batteries. It doesn’t have a built-in battery charger, so you will need to recharge the AA batteries yourself. The mains lead uses a mini USB connection, so you could use a phone charger to power it.

Batteries are unlikely to last for more than about 10 hours, which is a bit disappointing. If you use this radio with batteries you should take them out when the radio is switched off to prevent it from draining the batteries.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Sleep timer
  • Carrying handle
  • Headphone jack

Dimensions: 17 x 13 x 10 cm
Weight: 760 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • One of the cheapest Bluetooth DAB radios
  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Nice retro design
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • Quite cheaply made

Summary

The Majority Little Shelford is a cheap, stylish and straightforward portable DAB radio. The build quality isn’t especially high though, so you can’t expect it to last forever. Read our full review of the Little Shelford here.

 

5. AZATOM Blackfriars Retro DAB Radio

Made by budget electronics brand AZATOM, the Blackfriars Retro DAB Radio is one of the main rivals of the Majority Little Shelford reviewed above. Like the Little Shelford, it’s attractively priced and has a vertical retro design with a carrying handle. However, the Blackfriars doesn’t have Bluetooth.

The Blackfriars features a built-in rechargeable battery which should last for around 10 hours on a full charge. The battery charges while the radio is plugged into the mains, which is more convenient than having to charge AA batteries in a separate battery charger, and much cheaper than having to buy new batteries every time they run out.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • 4 alarm clocks
  • Built-in subwoofer
  • Aux in
  • Remote control
  • Dimmable display

Dimensions: 18.2 x 13 x 8.7 cm
Weight: 780 g
Battery type: Built-in 1,800mAh battery

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with a remote control
  • Stylish retro design

Cons

  • No headphone socket
  • Quite cheaply made

Summary

The AZATOM Blackfriars offers great value for money, and the built-in battery makes it easy to listen to the radio around the house without having to worry about plugging it into the mains. The build quality isn’t as high as that of more expensive radios from brands such as Pure, but for the price the Blackfriars is a good buy. Read our full review of the Blackfriars here.

 

6. Pure Elan BT3 Portable DAB Radio

The Pure Elan BT3 is a stylish and compact portable radio with Bluetooth and a dual alarm clock. This radio is made by Pure, who are one of the leading digital radio brands. Like all Pure radios, it’s available with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Unlike the portable radios in Pure’s Evoke range, the Elan BT3 takes AA batteries rather than using a bespoke battery pack. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on your personal preference. The bespoke battery packs used by other Pure radios cost extra, making them substantially more expensive overall than this radio.

The Pure Elan BT3 is slender and light, making it easy to carry around the house. The radio looks elegant and is available in a choice of colours.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Headphone jack
  • Aux in
  • Colour display

Dimensions: 20 x 11.5 x 5.3 cm
Weight: 422 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Nice colour screen

Cons

  • Batteries don’t last very long

Summary

There aren’t many radios on the market that offer this combination of features, performance and affordability. The sound quality isn’t as high as on some of Pure’s other radios, but this unsurprising given the Elan BT3’s low price. Read our full review of the Elan BT3 here.

 

7. Roberts Play 10

The Play 10 is a popular portable DAB radio from respected British brand Roberts. The Play 10 is one of Roberts’ most affordable digital radios and is a very simple and straightforward product with only the most essential features.

Unlike some of the other radios reviewed here, the Play 10 doesn’t have Bluetooth or an alarm clock. Instead, it focuses on offering the basics and doing them well.

The Roberts Play 10 can be powered with the mains or with 4 AA batteries. Unlike the Roberts Play reviewed above, it doesn’t have a built-in battery charger. This means that you’ll either need a separate battery charger or you’ll spend a lot of money buying new batteries.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Carrying handle
  • Headphone jack
  • Dedicated preset buttons

Dimensions: 18 x 10.5 x 5.5 cm
Weight: 349 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Light and easy to carry around
  • Good sound for the size

Cons

  • Only the most essential features
  • Doesn’t charge batteries, unlike the Roberts Play

Summary

The Roberts Play 10 is less convenient as a portable radio than the Roberts Play reviewed above as it doesn’t feature a built-in battery charger. However, it offers great value for money and is a good choice if you want something small, simple and reliable. Read our full review of the Play 10 here.

 

8. Sony XDR-P1DBP Pocket DAB/DAB+ Radio

Despite being marketed as a ‘pocket’ radio, the Sony XDR-P1DBP has a speaker, so you don’t need to use it with headphones (though you can if you want to). Given its small size, it’s a good choice if you want something you can easily carry around the house or even use in the car or while travelling. If you’d like something that offers the benefits of both a pocket and a portable radio, it’s a good choice.

The Sony XDR-P1DBP has a built-in battery which is charged via USB cable. You can charge it from a computer or with a USB phone charger. It doesn’t have a mains adapter, so you’ll need to rely on the battery. However, you can listen to the radio while it’s charging, which is convenient.

The battery life is quite good, and USB charging is very convenient. However, the battery is built in, so it would be difficult to replace once it eventually deteriorates.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Headphone jack
  • Saves 20 preset stations
  • Sleep timer

Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.7 x 2.45 cm
Weight: 170 g
Battery type: Built-in lithium iron battery

Pros

  • Works while its charging
  • Very small and light
  • Good amount of volume for its size
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Battery can’t be replaced
  • Relatively expensive given its features

Summary

The Sony XDR-P1DBP is a good choice if you want something particularly small and compact. It’s a good portable radio for listening to while travelling or commuting and is also loud enough to listen to around the house through its speaker. This radio is quite expensive given its features, but it’s well made and should last a long time. Read our full review of the XDR-P1DBP here.

 

9. Goodmans Canvas Portable DAB Radio

The Goodmans Canvas is quite similar to the Roberts Play 10 reviewed above. It’s a straightforward and inexpensive portable DAB radio that takes 4 x AA batteries and only offers the most basic features.

This radio is straightforward and easy to use and is a good size for carrying around the house. The Canvas can be powered via the mains or with AA batteries, which should last 6-10 hours on a full charge. The Canvas doesn’t recharge batteries, so you will need to recharge them separately or buy new batteries each time they run out, which would become expensive.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Headphone jack
  • Sleep timer

Dimensions: 18.5 x 11 x 5.7 cm
Weight: 350 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Good sound quality given its size

Cons

  • Feels cheaply made

Summary

The Goodmans Canvas isn’t particularly exciting or flashy, but it works well and offers good value for money. If you want something basic and don’t want to spend too much money, it’s a good choice. Read our full review of the Goodmans Canvas here.

 

10. LOGIK LHDR15 Portable DAB/FM Clock Radio

LOGIK LHDR15

The LOGIK LHDR15 is another popular and inexpensive DAB radio. Unlike many portable digital radios in this price range, it features an alarm clock. This radio can be plugged into the mains or used with 4 AA batteries.

This radio has an alarm clock, but it’s not ideal as a bedside radio as the display is quite bright and can’t be switched off. Also, the alarm will only work when the radio is plugged into the mains, not when using batteries. The clock display is also quite small, making it hard to read.

Features

  • FM/DAB radio
  • Alarm clock
  • Headphone jack

Dimensions: 19 x 12.5 x 12 cm
Weight: 830 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • Nice wood effect design
  • Decent sound quality
  • Features an alarm clock
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Clock display is small and too bright at night
  • Controls are quite fiddly
  • Mediocre build quality

Summary

The LOGIK LHDR15 doesn’t have great build quality and is a bit fiddly to use. Nevertheless, it offers good value for money and looks and sounds decent for the price. Read our full review of the LOGIK LHDR15 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. If you’re looking for a pocket radio instead, see our recommendations here.
  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 2018 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, 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 when deciding which to buy.
  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 AZATOM 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.

What to look for in a portable DAB radio

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. The worst-performing digital radios will run out of juice within 5 hours, while the best will last for over 15 hours before you need to recharge the batteries.
  • 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.

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 Little Shelford, which both offer good performance for the price.

If you want something with better sound quality, you should invest £100 or more. Take a look at the Pure Evoke H4, which has great sound quality for a portable radio (though you need to buy the battery pack separately).

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, Tesco, ASDA and Currys.

Using a portable radio in the car

If your car doesn’t have a built-in DAB radio receiver, you could use a portable 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.

Conclusion

If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend, it would be the Roberts Play. While it doesn’t offer any advanced features, it’s a dependable product that is small, light and easy to use. It’s one of the few radios to have a built-in battery charger, which is very convenient.

2 thoughts on “Best Portable DAB Radios (UK 2018)

  1. Yhank you such an interesting article. I am looking for a portable DAB radio and I have been for a few months now but cant seem to find one to suit my needs. It shld look a bit retro, have a clock/alarm, a built in battery charger with a reasonable tone in a decent cost £100.00 – £150. If you have any suggestions i wld be very grateful.

    1. Hello Margaret. Thanks for your comment. Here are some portable retros radios in roughly a £100-£150 price range with an alarm clock:
      Pure Evoke H3
      Pure Evoke H4
      VQ Retro Mk II
      VQ Hepburn Mk II
      Instead of having a built-in battery charger these radios use a rechargeable battery pack which you buy separately. The battery pack charges while the radio is plugged in, so it’s quite similar to having a radio with a built-in battery charger. Roberts make some retro radios with a built-in battery (the Expression and Vintage), though they don’t have an alarm clock.

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