Panasonic RF-D20BT Compact Splash Proof Radio Review

Summary:
Nice design and sound quality let down by disappointing controls and battery life.

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The RF-D20BT is a budget-priced FM/DAB radio from well-known Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic. It offers Bluetooth and a splash-proof design, which set it apart from many other radios in this price range. Find out more about what the Panasonic RF-D20BT can do and how it performs in this review…

Features

  • FM/DAB/DAB+ radio
  • Bluetooth
  • Splash-proof with IPX3 water resistance rating
  • Saves 5 preset stations
  • Alarm clock
  • Sleep timer
  • Telescopic aerial

Dimensions: 15 cm high x 10 cm deep x 9 cm wide
Weight: 600 g

Performance and use

The RF-D20BT has good sound quality for a small radio and offers a choice of 5 EQ settings: Heavy, Soft, Clear, Vocal and Flat. It also has a decent amount of volume when plugged into the mains. You can power it with 3 AA batteries, but the volume when running on batteries is substantially lower.

The battery life is quite poor, which is a common problem with portable DAB radios since DAB radio uses more power than FM radio. This can be quite inconvenient since the RF-D20BT doesn’t have a built-in rechargeable battery and won’t recharge the AA batteries it uses, so you need to recharge them or replace them yourself.

This radio has a Bluetooth receiver, which means you can stream audio from a phone, tablet or laptop through the radio’s speakers. According to the user manual (available online here), the Bluetooth range is 10 metres. The radio doesn’t have a Bluetooth transmitter though, so you can’t use it with Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speakers.

The controls are located on top of the radio and include a rotary dial for the volume and 5 dedicated buttons for accessing preset stations. Saving a preset station is easy: you just hold down one of the preset buttons while listening to the station you want to save. There’s also a Bluetooth button that you can use to easily pair up to 8 Bluetooth devices.

The buttons aren’t very responsive and require quite a lot of pressure to press down. This means the radio isn’t ideal for those with arthritis or rheumatism. The volume control wheel also isn’t very responsive, and the quietest volume settings are still a bit too loud for listening to in bed without disturbing other people.

The Panasonic RF-D20BT has an alarm clock that lets you choose to wake up to either an alarm buzzer sound or a radio station. There’s also a sleep timer which can be set from 30 to 120 minutes.

The radio has an extendable antenna which you can adjust to improve the reception. The display also has a signal strength indicator.

This radio has an IPX3 water resistance rating. This means it should be able to withstand being sprayed with 60° C water at a rate of 10 litres per minute and a pressure of 80-100kN/m for 5 minutes. You should still avoid getting it wet, but it should be fine to keep in the bathroom when using batteries.

Pros

  • Good sound quality given its small size
  • Decent amount of volume
  • Inexpensive
  • Attractive design
  • Small and light

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Buttons aren’t very responsive
  • Poor battery life

Verdict

The Panasonic RF-D20BT has an attractive design and good sound quality for its size. It can also be turned up quite loud when plugged into the mains, and the splash-proof design is a nice feature. However, it does have some serious flaws. The controls aren’t very responsive and require quite a bit of force to use. The battery life is also poor, which means it’s not ideal for using in the bathroom (where you wouldn’t want to have it plugged into the mains).

For the price, the Panasonic RF-D20BT is a good radio, but be aware of its limitations before buying it.

Similar radios

Another affordable portable DAB radio from a well-known brand is the Roberts Play 10. It doesn’t have an alarm or Bluetooth, but it performs very well as a basic portable radio for listening to around the house.

One option with a few more features is the AZATOM Multiplex which has Bluetooth, stereo sound, a USB charging point and a dual alarm clock. The AZATOM Multiplex also has a built-in rechargeable battery, which is more convenient than having to use AA batteries.

For some more options see our roundups of the best portable radios and the best bathroom radios.

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