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The Roberts Stream 93i, released in 2014, was regarded by many as the best internet radio in its price category, and won a What HiFi? award for three years in a row. It was frequently praised for its great sound quality, ease of use, accessibility, connectivity and various other features and was revered by its many owners.
In 2016, Roberts released the Stream 94i, which is the successor to the Stream 93i. The two radios look very similar, but there are some crucial differences, which we’ll explore in this article.
Given the success of the 93i and the high regard in which it’s held, Roberts has naturally been wary of being too radical and making drastic changes for the latest upgrade. Both models have the same great sound quality, provided by a sub-woofer and two smaller drivers.
Both radios offer access to multiple radio stations through FM and DAB channels, plus DAB+ for future-proofing, and internet radio via Wi-Fi (802-11b/g/n being standard on both for 2.4 GHz bands, plus 5 GHz for the 94i).
For even more choice, there’s a wired Ethernet connection for network devices such as a NAS server, PC or Mac in MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAL, ALAC or WAV formats, as well as a USB connection, both sources using the Music Player app for output.
You can also use Spotify Connect, if you’re a premium subscriber, to play tracks from the service’s database, so either version of the Roberts Stream provides access to as much music as you need.
Each radio can save 120 preset stations so you can easily find your favourite stations and can be operated by on-device controls, a remote control or your smartphone with the downloadable UNDOK app.
Both versions have a stereo headphone socket, 3.5 mm line out and an aux-in connector. They’re either mains or battery powered, though if you want to use a battery you will need to use a rechargeable battery pack which costs extra. If you are upgrading from the 93i to the 94i, you can use the same battery pack.
Multiple alarms are available on both radios, either as a radio or buzzer alarm, with snooze and sleep modes.
The main difference between the two is that the 94i has Bluetooth, although you can buy a Bluetooth adapter for the 93i.
According to the Roberts website, both radios have the same RRP, though in practice the Stream 94i is often more expensive. However, the Stream 94i (which has Bluetooth built in) should cost about as much as buying the Stream 93i with the optional Bluetooth adapter.
Which should you choose?
If you don’t already have a Roberts Stream radio, the obvious choice is the Stream 94i since it’s newer, has the addition of Bluetooth and both devices are about the same price.
The 94i is slightly taller, not as wide and weighs a little less. It also has a new button layout that may be easier to handle, a more modern exterior design and a more flexible carrying handle. However, these are all fairly cosmetic and hardly warrant the cost of a new radio.
If you are already a 93i owner and simply want Bluetooth, the cheapest and best option may simply be to buy the Bluetooth adapter. Nevertheless, the upgrades to the 94i keep it ahead of the competition without spoiling what has always been a highly regarded radio.