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As names for companies go, Oono, is up there. It’s odd, it’s quirky and it’s fun, which can also be said for its first gadget, the MiniDAB, As its name suggests, the MiniDAB is a small portable DAB player. Previous players I’ve looked at, such as the Pure PocketDAB 2000 and the Sony XDR-M1 have either been oversized or under-featured. The Oono MiniDAB tackles both of those issues, being packed with features and very light. In fact, it weighs in at only 95g, which is a darn site more pocketable than the PocketDAB 2000, which tips the scales at 160g. It’s lighter than the Sony too by around 10g, which is impressive considering how much more it does.
In fact, when you pick it up it almost feels too light, as if it’s hollow. It’s quite plasticy, and doesn’t feel particularly sturdy. It’s also, to but it bluntly, quite ugly. Oono describe it as iPod like, and from a distance it does look vaguely like one, but up close it looks more like the iPod’s ugly kid brother. In fact, when the office’s resident Apple tart Wil picked it up, his instant reaction was ‘urgh’. Nuff said.
However, what it lacks in the looks department it makes up for in talent. It’s a DAB radio first and can also pick up FM signals for when DAB reception is poor. It has a generous 128MB of memory built-in and has a record button on the front so you can capture broadcasts straight away. It doesn’t have Pure’s clever ‘Revu’ pause and rewind function but you can set up timed recordings, daily, weekly or whenever you want. It doesn’t have EPG support, though which would make setting timed recordings easier.
That said, as it stands, the LCD display wouldn’t be up to the task of displaying EPG information. Though the backlit LCD screen is quite large it and has six lines, only three are used for text. When a station is sending out text information you have to wait for it to scroll across one line, which seems a waste. The screen does have plenty of space devoted to various icons - in fact too many.
In addition to the built-in 128MB there’s an SD slot into which you can place cards up to 2GB in capacity. This means you can record a lot or radio or play back a lot of audio files stored in MP3, WMA or even Ogg VORBIS format, which is a seriously high quality codec. It’s a shame that there’s no AAC support though.
The features don’t stop there though. There’s a built-in speaker – which is something I’ve never seen before in a portable audio player. It’s located at the front, and while it’s not Hi-Fi it’ll be fine for listening to something like the sport without headphones as long as there’s not too much background noise. The headphones normally act as the aerial so an external one is supplied so you can listen without headphones attached, though it’s not going to help you get a signal if you’re not in an area with great reception. Oddly, I found that the microphone actually acted as a better external aerial than the actual cable supplied to fulfil that function.
The Oono’s next talent is that it has a line in so can record from any audio source directly to MP3 up to a bit-rate of 256Kbps. The socket doubles up as a microphone in, and there even one supplied in the box – sound quality of the recordings is quite good.