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. Majority Little Shelford

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 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
  • Bluetooth
  • 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.

2. 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.

3. John Lewis & Partners Spectrum Solo

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. 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.

5. AZATOM Spitalfields

The Spitalfields from budget electronics brand AZATOM is a retro-style DAB radio that offers lots of features for the price.

The Spitalfields has several features you won’t find on many other portable radios including independently adjustable bass and treble controls and the ability to set four separate alarms.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Built-in rechargeable battery
  • 4 separate alarm clocks
  • Built-in subwoofer
  • Remote control
  • Carrying handle
  • Dimmable display
  • Aux-in port
  • 6 EQ presets plus adjustable bass and treble

Dimensions: 19 x 14 x 9 cm
Weight: 750 g
Battery type: Built-in rechargeable battery

Pros

  • Comes with a remote control
  • Attractive design
  • Decent sound quality for the price
  • Built-in rechargeable battery is convenient
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Minimum alarm volume is quite loud
  • No headphone jack

Summary

The AZATOM Spitalfields has some great features that including a remote control and adjustable bass and treble.

It might not be ideal as a bedside radio as the minimum alarm volume is quite loud.

Read our full review of the AZATOM Spitalfields here.

6. Majority Histon II

The Majority Histon II, released in 2018, is an updated version of the earlier Histon digital radio.

At the time of writing it’s one of the most popular DAB radios in the UK thanks to its convenient small size, portability and low price.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Saves 20 preset stations
  • Powered by mains, USB cable or 4 x AA batteries
  • Sleep timer

Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 5 cm
Weight: 249 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Multiple powering options (mains, USB, batteries)
  • Light and easy to carry around
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Volume controls aren’t very precise
  • Batteries don’t last very long
  • Buttons are small and fiddly

Summary

The Majority Histon II might not be as a portable radio as the AA batteries don’t last very long and it would be expensive to keep replacing them unless you use rechargeable batteries.

However, it’s a very affordable, light and compact radio that offers good value for money.

7. Majority Shelford II

The Majority Shelford II is a retro-style DAB radio that comes in either a cream or red finish. It’s an inexpensive product that offers good value for money.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Saves 20 preset stations
  • Mains or battery powered (4 x C batteries)
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Headphone jack
  • Sleep timer

Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 10 cm
Weight: 1.15 kg
Battery type: 4 x C

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Stylish retro design
  • Easy to carry around

Cons

  • Sound quality is mediocre
  • Writing on buttons is small and hard to read
  • Display light can’t be turned off at night
  • Presets can be fiddly to set

Summary

The Majority Shelford II isn’t perfect but it looks stylish and offers good value for money.

It could be a good choice for the kitchen but isn’t ideal for the bedroom as the display light is quite bright.

8. Goodmans Canvas

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.

9. Sony XDR-P1

Despite being marketed as a ‘pocket’ radio, the Sony XDR-P1 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-P1 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-P1 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-P1 here.

10. Roberts Revival Uno

The Roberts Revival Uno is a compact portable DAB radio based on the design of Roberts’ classic 1950s radios.

It’s more expensive than most of other products reviewed here, but it has a stunning design and is made by a prestigious brand.

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Dual alarm clock
  • Sleep timer
  • Mains or battery powered (4 x AA)
  • Headphone jack
  • Aux input

Dimensions: 20.7 x 12.9 x 8.5 cm
Weight: 990 g
Battery type: 4 x AA

Pros

  • Stylish retro design with a large choice of colours
  • Good sound quality given its small size
  • Decent battery life
  • Feels well made
  • Easy to use with rotary controls
  • Easy to carry around

Cons

  • Relatively expensive

Summary

There isn’t much to complain about with the Roberts Revival Uno except for the price.

A built-in rechargeable battery might be more convenient than having to use AA batteries, but overall the Revival Uno is a great radio.

It’s smaller than you might expect but this means it’s very portable and easy to carry around the house.

Read our full review of the Roberts Revival Uno 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 Majority Little Shelford. It offers great value for money, has a stylish and compact design and features Bluetooth, unlike most other radios in the same price range.

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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