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Recommended digital radios

Recommended radios

As well as a radio that you can use easily, you'll want one that sounds good. Below, we tell you how easy it was to use the radios rated very good or good for sound quality, and about others that were easy to use for some people, but produced poorer sound. These were all tabletop size, so finally we pick out the best of the hand-held radios that we tested. 

For further details about what to look for in a digital radio, see our summaries of the main features, ways of tuning in and what to look for in terms of performance

Best all-rounder

Only one radio - the Roberts RD-8BW Duet (£137) - had good sound and was easy to use by blind and partially sighted people and those with limited dexterity or strength. It is recommended. It was designed with the British Wireless for the Blind Fund, which probably explains why it came out so well. Reception was very good and it was easy to tune with its distinctive rotary dial. It had five preset buttons (for DAB and FM stations) that were large, illuminated and easy to set. It was the only tested radio with illuminated buttons. Its display was larger than most (24 x 98mm), though the screen was reflective and was obscured when you were using some controls. It was heavy (2.6kg) to carry but the handle was comfortable and spread the weight well. It had a mono speaker though played stereo through headphones. It was one of the three radios on test that allowed you to pause and rewind live radio.

Worth thinking about

The only other tested radio with good sound that was reasonably easy to use is the Dualit DAB kitchen radio DKR-1 (£150). Reception was good, and it was judged easy to use for people with impaired dexterity and satisfactory for blind and partially sighted people. Its screen was larger than most (25 x 75mm) and displayed good-size characters, although you had to look at it from the right angle to reduce glare. It was not easy to find stations without using the presets (5 for DAB and 5 for FM), but these could be easily set. The tuning and volume controls were too smooth but needed only a light touch. The radio had a mono speaker but played stereo through headphones or external speakers and could be connected to a hi-fi system.  It could be used as a clock-radio alarm and had a built-in kitchen timer. It was heavy to carry (2.5kg) with a broad, flat handle.

Not the best sound, but some easy to use controls

These radios were found to be easy for people with dexterity impairments, although they did not have the best sound. 

The Panasonic RF-D5 (£70) was judged satisfactory for reception and sound, it was cheap and its controls were a good size and needed little force to use. Stations could be tuned in automatically as you scrolled through them. This radio had 10 presets for DAB and FM stations that could be fairly easily set and large buttons with raised markings, but close together. It had a mono speaker and its headphone socket gave only a mono signal too, from one earpiece.

The Teac R-3 (£78) had very good reception and satisfactory sound. Its buttons were well spaced and the dials easy to turn. It was uncomfortable to carry - the handle was thin for its weight. Stations could be tuned in automatically as you scrolled through, and there were five presets for DAB and FM stations that were easy to set. It had a mono speaker but played stereo through headphones. 

For carrying around outdoors

Of the three smaller radios that could be hand-held, the Roberts RD-59 Gemini 59 (£53) is worth considering. It was rated satisfactory for ease of use by blind, partially sighted and dexterity impaired people. Reception was very good, however sound quality was poor compared to the better scoring tabletop radios, but adequate for its size and for listening to speech.  Finding stations was easy - it could be set to tune in automatically as you scrolled through them and it had 10 presets, five for DAB and five for FM stations.

Not recommended

The Pure Evoke-3 (£154) was the other radio with the best sound in our tests and was one of two that allowed you to record through an electronic programme guide (EPG) and to pause and rewind live radio. It could also be used as a clock-radio alarm. Sadly, it got our lowest rating for ease of use, although this was a little better when the radio was operated through its remote control (the only tested radio that came with one). Our main concern was 99 DAB and 24 FM presets that were difficult to set using a single button on the radio and having too little time to set them. This was more easily done with the remote control. The fairly large display was let down by a reflective screen and hard-to-see grey letters on a light blue background. Buttons were too similar and too close together to find by touch. Labelling was poor. One-touch recording of the current programme was easy but using the EPG would be impossible for blind people - it was just too easy to get lost in the menus if you tried to do it by memory.  The radio was not much better for people with limited dexterity. Although the main controls did not need much force, they were slippery and it was easy to press more than one button at once. The radio was heavy (2.7kg) and the handle did not give much room for your hand.

Last updated: August 2011

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