It's the summer of DAB! Unfurl your raffia mats, slap on the cooking oil and get cancerous on Britain's beaches to the sound of Radio 6. Our little friend the digital radio is in bloom, according to the Digital Radio Development Bureau. You the cunsumers are buying up DABs faster than ever, so in the spirit of consumer capitalism, manufacturers are catering for your desire by releasing a choir of DAB newcomers.
In our carefully picked highlights from the current offerings, we have two new Roberts DABs (pictured in the foreground), the second iteration of the PURE Bug, the PURE Bug Too (see what they did there?) and the PURE PocketDAB 1500 (pictured top right).
The wireless has come a long way since the days of cat's whiskers, Bakelite headphones and aerials that looked like your gran's washing line. The good old BBC is still up there with the leaders, too; its Listen Again service means you can get a blast of a Mozart symphony or a reading from Moyles' Profanisaurus up to seven days after broadcast. Great -- but it's still a bit old fashioned. You need your PC. Who wants to have to warm up some monstrous machine just to listen to Auntie?
What you want is a MagicBox Imp. Decked out in modernist iPod white and brushed metal (don't worry, it'll be retro by Christmas), this stumpy little gizmo is a Wi-Fi linked Net radio player. There are a few out there by now, such as the Terratec Noxon 2 Audio, doing almost the same trick: give them a sniff of broadband and they're off, scurrying across the Internet to find and deliver streamed audio.
What gives this box its magic is its ability to digest Real streams -- including those of the BBC's Listen Again treasure trove. Got a few moments and want to catch up on the news, or some gem of a gig that was on 6Music last night when you were working in the office? It's all on there. Continue reading...
Crave is jetting off to Germany next week to watch England's match against Sweden, so excuse us if we're a little distracted with the excitement of it all. To keep ourselves busy until then, we've been fine-tuning our gadget collection to make sure we have everything we need to get the most out of the next four weeks of nail-biting action. Here are some gadgets that will help you keep an eye (or ear) on the pitch at work...
Asus Lamborghini VX1
With the BBC broadcasting all its World Cup games live on the Internet, you'll be needing a decent monitor at work to watch the action. If you're not able to persuade your tech support staff that you need a larger monitor to see all the columns in the company's financial spreadsheets, then it may be worth investing in a laptop of your own. One of the sexiest laptops currently on the market is the Asus Lamborghini VX1Â (pictured). With its 15-inch SXGA panel, which has a native resolution of 1,400x1,050 pixels, you'll be able to get a detailed view of the matches. The 2GHz dual-core Intel processor and 2GB of RAM should give you enough processing power and memory to get on with work between games. At 1,899, it's a luxury laptop, but worth splashing out just to be able to say you own a Lamborghini. Just hope that no-one asks you for a lift. Continue reading...
Chronos, God of time, born from Chaos, celebrated star of Greek mythology, and now a bedside alarm clock. How far the great have fallen. Did the great God Chronos imagine that one day he would be awakening the commuter from her hazy red wine slumber and propelling her into the bathroom to the wolverine yapping of Coldplay?
We've looked at a range of kitchen and hi-fi separates DABs in the past, but this is the first bedside DAB/alarm clock combo we've laid our hands on.
We were promised music for every generation, culture and religion, but did we get any of this? Did DAB really deliver? The DAB revolution promised CD-quality sound and a dazzling choice of radio stations. It promised digital airwaves filled with indie outfits broadcasting deliciously quirky music from the underground scene. Did this happen?
No. DAB slapped us in the face with indentikit versions of existing mainstream analogue stations, and a handful of pseudo-independent niche interest stations crippled by bit rates that would embarrass a ringtone.
There is an alternative though, and its name is Internet radio. With bit rates that commonly soar into the realms of 160 or 192kbps, Internet radio is technicolour to DAB's black and white. Many UK DAB stations saunter in the doldrums of 80kbps -- our broadcasters should be sent to their bedrooms in disgrace. Continue reading...
Hello my CNETÂ chums, I am wondering if DAB radios work on a plane. I was talking to someone at work and they believe that a multiband radio might be better? I'm a keen football fan and like to keep track of commentary while I'm flying. I love to listen to the game in some way, shape or form. What do you think is best? Does theÂ BBC have a DAB transmitter for Spain? Continue reading...
We've looked at tuners with aristocratic aspirations before, but none so Maharajan in their vaulting ambition. This £499 Arcam DT-91 is the filet mignon of the DAB tuner world, the Fabergé egg of digital receivers, the 24-carat gold-leaf dressing on your Swiss pralines. Slap in your monocle and light up your opium pipe Holmes, this DAB is pimp.
Arcam has carved out a fine reputation for good-quality audiophile components and the DT-91 is clearly of the same stock. While tuning in stations, you feel the irresistible urge to dab politely at its mouth (LCD) with a handkerchief. Finger prints on the fascia will not be tolerated: remove them immediately with a quote from Alexander Pope. It's difficult to stand next to the DT-91 without feeling slightly intimidated.
Jesus isn't April's only posterchild: PURE's new One offers salvation for those who couldn't justify shelling out for the privilege of listening to digital radio. The One is priced at a generous £49.99 -- PURE has upturned the tables of the other traders in the temple in disgust and is fast establishing a doctrine that poses a threat to the status quo. The other DAB manufacturers won't take this lying down.
The first thing that struck us about this kitchen DAB is how obscenely light it is. It's not just that PURE has left most of the case hollow, but that you begin to suspect they've actively filled the cavity with helium for that extra microgram of gravity-defying lightness. Acoustically, there doesn't seem to have been much of a cost to this, as the tone of the PURE One is pretty good at first listen.
Wood veneers and chrome fascias may be the stuff of 1960s US automobile designers, but PURE seems keen to revive these eccentric design flourishes on its Evoke-3 DAB radio. The now legendary 'SnoozeHandle' (tap it lightly to send that alarm to sleep for a minute) is still present, looking more than ever like a doorhandle wrenched from an IKEA wardrobe.
This new model includes a range of small upgrades and tweaks, but there's no radical innovation: no built in GPS, laser beams or anti-grav.
Far from the simplicity of Roberts' retro designs, PURE is keen to take theÂ Evoke brand into a sci-fi future -- it's more feature-packed than ever before: 20 alarms, 20 record timers, 99 DAB presets, and one lonely little SD card slot. Continue reading...
The choice offered by DAB made me fall in love with digital radio, but now we've reached the third date things have gone a bit Mexico. DAB's begun to slur its words, and there's something suspicious going on under all that makeup. The fear has set in. It's time to get DAB to pull its act together before I dump it for something better.
DAB radio was sold to us as a revolution in radio listening; a chance to abandon our crackly analogue sets and upgrade to a flawless digital signal. It might shock you to learn that many DAB broadcasts sound worse than the same station on FM, providing you have a good signal. Despite the high claims for this technology, DAB has failed to deliver the quality of sound that audiophiles hoped for. What went wrong?
The hole in the heart of digital radio is something called bit rate. We measure the quality of a digital audio signal in terms of how many kilobytes of data are used to describe each second of music, and this is known as the audio's bit rate, or fidelity. Continue reading...
Famous for its kitchen radio designs, PURE is to digital radio what Cadbury is to chocolate.
This is the company's latest foray into the world of DAB, but unlike previous designs the DMX-50 is a full-blown mini-system hi-fi with integrated stereo amplifer and CD player. PURE has proven itself in the DAB tuner field, but can it pull off the more adventurous task of an all-inclusive solution to your home entertainment?
Love is Radio 4 on a crisp spring morning. Love is static-free reception. Love is hundreds of different niche-interest stations. Your love may waver because of low digital radio bit rates across the UK, but then all affairs have their moments of doubt.
Unlike most humans, the ST-SDB900 has an off state, so you can remedy any conflict with the press of a button. It also packs an FM tuner for when you want to abandon digital and listen to a higher audio quality than DAB can currently provide. We're impressed by the build quality on the SDB900 -- it matches the standard of products we've seen from other high-end separate manufacturers like PURE's DRX-702ES.
Today we're launching a beta version of the CNET.co.uk Podcast, giving you chance to hear our team discussing the latest and greatest in personal technology and consumer electronics.
Join us as we report from Intel's launch of Viiv, gaze into our crystal ball and discuss the future of electronic books, debate the future of high-definition TV -- and let you know about some great tech gear we think is worth your hard-earned cash.
No, most certainly not. This radio is about as inspiring as a golf peg. If all the DAB radios went to a disco, the XDR-S20 would get bottled. It has a face that insults with its mere presence. It's not because it's overwhelmingly ugly, but because it looks so prosaic, so utterly mundane, that you feel that at any minute the whole world might turn grey, switch into 2D and wash away in the rain. Don't give this radio to a depressed person.
Tuning controls on the XDR are soulless, plastic and hollow-feeling. There's an empty clicking noise as you scan through channels. Selecting stations is like tweaking the nipples on a week-old cadaver, only less fun.
Packing the same guts as the well-respected DRX-701ES, the 702ES from PURE is a digital radio tuner for the sociocultural elite. At £299 there's an unspoken understanding between you and this DAB -- a implication of deadly sincerity over the task of listening to radio broadcasts.
If you're in the market for the 702ES, you are not a kitchen-shelf-transistor-radio dilettante, one ear cocked vaguely towards The Archers while you slice carrots. Instead, you are sat in a tastefully weathered leather armchair, sipping ox blood from a crystal glass, staring dead ahead, while your carbon fibre Maclaren speakers blast Classic FM.
Ah, Christmas, a time of infinite craving for countless digital desires... We've decided to put our craving to the test and from now until 25 December we'll be on a mission -- each member of the team has been given £5,000 in Virtual Crave Pounds (VCP) to spend on the best consumer electronics gear he or she can find.
The rules are astonishingly strict. All Crave Christmas shopping products must be available for purchase online in the UK with normal English pounds sterling. Every VCP must be spent, right down to the last Virtual Crave Penny. To keep things interesting, every writer has been given one free Santa gift.
We've seen big DABs and small DABs, round ones and square ones, DABs with hair (Really? -Ed) and DABs that are perfectly bald, but this is the first DAB we've seen that we'd be happy to take on a date. Elegant is not the word -- regal, perhaps. You can well imagine Her Majesty's nimble fingers dancing the dial through stations and tuning into the World Service as she settles down into a warm bath of corgi milk.
Not only did Yamaha send us this delightful little DAB to review, but they included the largest subwoofer we've ever seen. This sub is apocalyptic in its intent -- who would dare turn it up to full volume? We tested it at low volume with the trepidation of scientists who will switch on the potentially universe-destroying CERN particle accelerator in Geneva later next year. A heady mix of excitement and sense of impending doom racked our toned bodies.
"Make it small and pack it tall" is the motto of the SC-EN9. The vertical CD drive gives it a Bang & Olufsen-inspired pose, and the integrated DAB radio will satisfy those looking for a wider choice of radio listening. A motorised fascia slides down like something from an 80s sci-fi movie to reveal the CD-loading mechanism -- this drive is happy to read home-recorded CDs packed with MP3s. Its sound quality is a little boxy, so audiophiles won't be scrawling its name and number on toilet walls, but for casual listening it's fine.
There's a bunch of presets to 'enhance' your listening experience, which includes XBS, Clear, Soft and Vocal equalisation. There's also a 'Live Virtualiser' designed to give a live feel to DAB or CD. Why you'd want to make something that wasn't recorded live sound live is puzzling, but we suppose there is some strange pleasure to be had in convincing your neighbours that Celine Dion really is in your kitchen. If you've got any noisy building work to do, pop on her CD and explain away the drilling and banging as the sounds of you killing Celine -- no one is going to object to that. -CS
We've seen DAB radios packed into a space no bigger than a clenched fist, so the first question you might ask on picking up the TU-1800 is: what in the name of the good lord Beelzebub is making this so heavy? We've not pried the cover off yet, but we'd guess a hefty transformer, some serious pre-amp circuits, and a tuner that can pick out the bleating of distress beacons on distant space colonies. We'll investigate properly later -- as soon as we track down a screwdriver.
First impressions were excellent -- the TU-1800 makes other DABs look like they're crawling through glue when autotuning. We picked up over sixty stations in a few seconds and were greeted by Zane Lowe offering incisive commentary on some death-metal band. Through our 500W NAD reference system he sounded like the Wizard of Oz. If you like to listen to your digital radio with some proper volume behind it, a tuner like this Denon and a serious amp is the only way to go. Expect a full review soon. -CS
In the early Nineties, Trevor Baylis, a former underwater escape artist with the Berlin Circus, invented the clockwork radio, a landmark "Why on Earth didn't I think of that?" moment. He was inspired by a news report on how HIV was spreading like wildfire through Africa because there was no way to broadcast health information with no reliable power in vast swathes of the continent. Eventually, the Freeplay radio was manufactured in South Africa, and the first model was presented to President Nelson Mandela. With massive publicity, it became a huge success. Baylis went on to become 1999's Pipe Smoker of the Year (and no, Crave hasn't been smoking anything it shouldn't, it's all true).
Freeplay still exists, and continues to set a fine example as a humanitarian business, making ecologically sound products and providing them to isolated communities in the Third World. It also makes consumer products, like this Devo digital radio. The Devo is wind-up powered, with a mains plug in case your arms get tired, and an old-fashioned tuning dial to receive FM broadcasts. Continue reading...