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Roberts Stream WM-202 review

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Reviewed:

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Roberts Stream WM-202
  • Roberts Stream WM-202
  • Roberts Stream WM-202
  • Roberts Stream WM-202
  • Roberts Stream WM-202
  • Roberts Stream WM-202

Summary

Our Score:

6

User Score:

Everyone likes to feel in control. Whether you're a worried passenger in a car or in way over your head at work, there's nothing worse than that sinking feeling you get knowing you're powerless to influence the world around you. That's why personal media players (PMPs) - originally in the form of portable tape players like the Sony Walkman - have proved so popular because you're no longer at the beck and call of the radio - now you can be your own DJ.

It's also the reason I think media streaming has taken off. Being able to connect to your music collection and listen to it where and whenever you like puts you back in control. It's a win, win, win, and - heck let's have another one - win, situation! So it's no wonder all the big name radio makers are falling over themselves to churn out portable radios that can tune into your networked music collection.

At least, that's the impression you get when you look at the Stream WM-202 - the employees at Roberts must have all been reduced to proverbial headless chickens to have let this one through the door. I mean, surely someone at some point along the design process would've noticed quite how horribly ugly this thing is? Who knows.

Before I continue my rant, I should probably reaffirm what we're looking at today and what its pedigree is. As mentioned, the Stream WM-202 is a portable desktop radio that can tune into DAB and FM radio stations, as well as connect to your wireless or wired home network through which it can connect to Internet radio stations and your shared music collection.

It's a fairly common feature set that has proved successful for products like the Pure Evoke Flow and considering Roberts' history of creating some great sounding, beautiful radios, like the Revival RD60 and GlowTime 1 - CR9952, we expected good things from this one. However, aside from anything else we find it hard to get passed how cheap and nasty it looks.

The body is finished in a very thin and plain silver paint, there are fake Chrome highlights randomly dotted around and the arrangement of buttons is all over the place. We can accept a device being made to a budget in terms of materials used but to take such a slapdash approach to the design as well is very disappointing. In fairness the overall build quality is reasonable and the unit feels sturdy enough, though it does exhibit that unsatisfying hollow, creaky quality that, again, puts you in mind of a cheap product.

So, we've well established the Stream WM-202 isn't going to be winning any design awards but that's not the be all and end all so let's look at how it functions.

jjscotman

November 14, 2008, 5:10 pm

This is a very disappointing review. I have had this radio for about 2 months and ,while it's not perfect, I find it excellent. When people buy a radio they are probably most interested in sound qualities. The reviewer devotes a meagre few lines to this vital aspect where the WM-202 is truly excellent. On the other hand he writes at length on design which is in many respects a matter of personal taste and preference. I read Trusted Reviews regularly - and value it - but this review is not up to its usual high standards.

M Swift

November 14, 2008, 5:54 pm

Much of this review is undoubtedly correct - indeed I can add further criticisms like the back light that is so bright ( and non adjustable) that you can read by it or the truly terrible battery useage. It retains a unique selling point however - it is truly portable -and that became my crucial buying factor. The software/ internal chip is evidently shared by several vendors and could be significantly improved but the sound and flexibility overall is,I would contend, the best of an indifferent crop.

Ed

November 14, 2008, 6:09 pm

I appreciate that, when it comes down to it, the WM-202 does what it says on the tin. But that's precisely why it got a satisfactory 6/10 rather than 4/10 or below.

Martin Daler

November 15, 2008, 12:10 am

"Also, I must once again mention the odd control layout...illogically laid out...criss-cross of buttons rather than a simple row?"


I sometimes wonder what is the logic reviewers think ought to inform the control layout. My bedside radio is a design mess visually, with all mismatched buttons and switches scattered about. But very easy for my fingers to read the controls when my eyes are asleep. Contrast with the more usual Sonyesque designs, a military grid of identical buttons, flush mounted (or worse still, touch sensitive). Looks great in a minimalist sort of way but much harder to operate, alseep or awake.

basicasic

November 15, 2008, 6:10 pm

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the radio looks stunning.Most people wnat to know what an audio device sounds like and thankfully there are plenty of other review sites that devote their articles to how it performs rather than now their particular reviewer likes the look of it.





And lo and behold - its actually rather good.

Ed

November 17, 2008, 4:27 pm

"And lo and behold - its actually rather good. "





No it's not. Adequate does not equal good. Yes it is louder than the Pure Evoke Flow (the benchmark for a radio of this type) but the overall quality isn't significantly better and in every other regard the Pure trounces it.





"rather than now their particular reviewer likes the look of it."





My dislike for the design is not purely aesthetic. Ergonomically it is poor and, as a previous comment has pointed out, little things like the fact the backlight can't be changed make it's overall usability sub-par.





I am intrigued. Those of you who have bought this radio, do you use the streaming and internet radio features much?

Ed

November 17, 2008, 4:49 pm

I've just realised that during editing my original closing paragraph has had its meaning changed significantly, which may be adding fuel to this debate. I've now changed this back to the original text to clarify my position on how this radio sounds. However, I stupidly didn't save the original published version so you'll just have to take my word for it. Essentially it had somehow changed from what I originally wrote (and what the review now says):





"It's no audiophile's dream like the Boston Acoustics Solo XT or the Tangent Trio but it comfortably beat the Evoke Flow on sheer volume as well as depth and clarity. Something that is probably largely down to the fact it employs a stereo set of speakers."





to something along the lines of:





"In fact, it's as good as the Boston Acoustics Solo XT or the Tangent Trio and is on a par, if not better than, the Evoke Flow - probably to do with it's stereo speakers."





I hope that now clears things up.

Radio Hick

December 16, 2008, 7:41 pm

On this occasion Trustworthy review not trustworthy. I had this radio with so many others. It is my hobby to buy play and collect radios. I love radios. I mainly concern with - quality of sound, reliability and ease of use and this seems to fit all of them. There is only one criticism and that is the light is too bright otherwise it is a perfect radio. You got everything in it. Worth having it and the helpline is brilliant.

Londe

January 8, 2009, 3:06 pm

I bought this radio for a number of reasons:


First: Bands namely first WiFi, then DAB (I live in a country with some reasonably good DAB services available, but not DAB sets, just half a dozen overpriced mainly Pure sets) and only subsidiarily FM (enough sets for that).


Second: Possibility of battery operation.


My opinion after using the set (bought in the UK) for a few days.


Very pleased with WiFi, DAB and sound quality.


Not impressed by setting up process and ease for the selection of internet stations. Regret the lack of a remote mainly for selecting bands and presets, and volume control. Battery use seems very limited using the set mainly on mains and only occasionally on batteries, probably also due to the large display remaining lit all the time even when operated from batteries.


I found the price very reasonable given the characteristics (WiFi radio, DAB, streaming) in the absence of an alternative with the same characteristics I would buy it again

Lornaderek

January 9, 2009, 3:09 am

I've had this radio for a couple of weeks. I've had some other DAB radios but nothing quite like this. I was keen on internet streaming radio and media server but 60% of the time I will be using the DAB radio.





Overall I'm reasonably impressed.





Good points:


* Easy navigation also sometime confusing


* DAB tuner good (with aerial extended)


* Quick DAB tuning (compared with TEAC mini hi-fi


* Big batteries - although I only use it for a portion of the time on these - at least I won't be changing them every 5 minutes.





Bad points:


* Power management - plugging in power cord can crash the radio requiring removal of battery (1 in 20 times perhaps)


* Backlit display is on all the time when on mains power, requiring covering up during the night - if you like the dark that is!


* Display is slow so that reading scrolling text is difficult to read


* Poor use is made display real estate - especially for the media server where artist/track/duration info could be displayed at the same time.


* Why two speakers? No chance of any stereo imaging with the speakers so close together, a single, bigger speaker would provide a better, more bass rich sound. The sound is not as good as my 10 year old, smaller, Panasonic radio.


* Not enough presets - although the button layout isn't a problem for me.





Given the price of a decent DAB radio, the premium on the additional features doesn't seem that much so overall 8/10.

SimonL

February 1, 2009, 6:46 am

This radio looks much nicer than the majority of DAB radios available out there, many of which look as though their designers were lost in the woods when trying to visualize what the punters expect a modern radio to look like.


Let us remember this isn't just another DAB radio. I will not be using it in DAB mode. I bought this radio in order to enjoy the massive range of music available on the internet, rather than the homogenous stream of mediocre dross available on DAB (the wonderful bbc excepted). I did not expect such an intuitive user interface or such good sound quality and find it hard to associate the above review with this excellent radio. I think the above reviewer should stick to writing reviews of Gillette razers with multi blades and formula 1 shaped handles, because he obviously doesn't get what radios are for.


My rating 9/10

MarkDS

February 4, 2009, 3:43 am

Thanks for the review Ed.





I'm English and live in Denmark. I bought this radio albeit with a different brand name of Lumatron, marketed





as such for the Scandinavina market I can only assume. Other than that it is exactly the same piece of kit.





It cost me the princely sum of 800 Danish Kroner which equates to around 㿼, a bargain in my humble opinion.





I am chuffed to bits with the unit. The build quality good, it feels solid and robust. It is asthetically





pleasing in black, in fact it looks great compared to the silver Roberts unit. Here is a Danish link:





http://www.nordjyske.dk/digita... Use google translate





to translate the web page.





The radio fulfills all my needs as the only reasons for me buying the unit was the internet radio capability





and portability i.e. battery power. The music player, DAB and FM capability are an added bonus for me.





Out of the box set up was a doddle. It found my wifi connection no problem. I have been using the favourites





function by registering online and adding my stations that way, and it works like a dream.





Pros:


Portability


Configuration a piece of cake


Good build quality


Sound quality good


Easy navigation


Looks (yes looks!)


Music player/streamer easy to use





This is the first wifi radio I have owned and so cannot compare to other models. The only gripe I have is maybe that the backlight is lit constant when plugged into the mains, but I will only be using batteries so it is not an issue for me as the light switches off after about 20 seconds whilst running on DC batteries.





A bargain at 㿼 if it can be found in blighty for that price. I thoroughly recommend this product.





9/10.

Richradio

February 24, 2009, 4:26 pm

I was given a Roberts Stream 202 radio as a birthday present and was very excited being an avid radio listener. However, I was quickly disappointed when I found out the radio doesn't have a pause or rewind function for listening to Wifi and DAB radio and for podcasts. This is one of the main advantages of digital radios, particularly if you have a baby who decides to cry while I'm listening to a podcast or WiFi or DAB radio. I asked Roberts if a software update would be available to remedy this but was told it would be considered for future radio designers, ie no. Very strange as most Roberts DAB radios have a pause function already. Also what is the point of the software update function?





I agree with previous reviews that the controls are overly complicated and the layout is fairly naff. Most of the buttons could be done away with as there is a digital screen so all that is needed is a menu up and down button and an 'enter' button.





Good points - The sound quality is very good. The preset 'My Favourites' function is very good and easy to use, stations are preloaded on a website along with favourite podcasts.





Bad points - No pause or rewind function on Wifi, DAB or podcasts. Poor layout of complicated controls. It takes a long time to start up on Wifi though this is probably true of most Wifi radios. It's expensive compared to some other brands.





My rating is 6/10 due to the controls and no pause / rewind function. I wouldn't recommend the radio considering these bad points. The radio is good if you want a good quality realtime radio or want to listen to music on your computer through the radio.





If Roberts had thought abit more about the design and functions it would simply be the best radio ever. Shame!

Ed

February 27, 2009, 2:14 pm

My mind truly boggles. If you think this looks nice then I truly despair. The simple fact of the matter is anyone that thinks this is worth more than a 6/10 when it costs 𧴺 (the price as reviewed, remember) needs a reality check. Sure, there may not be MANY alternatives but there certainly is one very significant one - the Pure Evoke Flow is many light years ahead in terms of looks, build quality, and usability, and only costs 㿀 more. Plain and simple.

Antonia

June 5, 2009, 7:40 am

I think the initial review and subsequent debate regarding the WM 202 got a bit overheated. I already owned a Sangean and have just acquired a WM 202 because I needed a portable and, despite the fact that DAB reception is not available in Florida, I am very, very happy with it (BTW the power supply can handle US voltages - you just need a plug adaptor). It took me all of 2 mins to connect to my WPA WiFi network without reading anything (not recommended!). I am not an audiophile, but the sound quality is way good enough for me and I like having two speakers - so there!





Let’s admit that Internet Radio is a relatively new technology, with limited options for the chip set, and face up to the fact that ALL the user interfaces are fairly primitive. Across the whole product range there are glaringly obvious HUGE improvements in general design and user interfaces. In addition the limited number of presets (as small as 5 per mode for the WM 202) is ridiculous considering the minimal extra programming etc. involved - just plain lazy! Shame on them! Most of the Internet radios I looked at seemed like they had been designed by an alien with tentacles who had never seen an Earth radio, or cobbled together out of old lawnmowers.





True the layout of the WM 202 push buttons is weird. Personally, I prefer lines of military style push buttons - going back to my trusty Sony ICF-2001 short wave receiver (standard issue for KGB agents in the Cold War and probably the best portable ever made) but hey, everything on the WM 202 works fine and styling is a very individual matter of taste - I quite like the spacey layout (sorry!). Volume and frequency tuning should always be a rotary as far as I am concerned, so a small minus for the +/- buttons volume control.





I haven’t got a Pure Evoke Flow, but I have read the reviews and specs. On balance I agree with the reviewer, I think it is a slightly better buy than the WM 202. But the style for PEF is clunky, not spacey like the WM 202. The PEF is black and simple - well that’s perfectly fine if it’s what makes you happy.





What I do NOT like about the WM 202 is: {1} If I push the presets in quick succession (so I can remind myself what I set them to) the system crashes and goes through a reboot (stack overflow?); {2} The backlight should have a separate ON/OFF dimmer control - it always stays on unless you are turned off and running on battery (a bummer at night); {3} You can pull OUT the power supply and it will keep running on battery, but if you plug it back IN again the system will do a complete restart - not cool Roberts; {4} (This applies to virtually all of them.) Why, oh why, do they always put the earphone socket at the back? Just a few seconds thought suggests this is bad idea. When I put the light out at night I have to put my earphone in (I won’t go into details :) ) - so I do it EVERY night, and pull it out the next morning when the coast is clear! Fiddling around at the back, when you are about to phase out into null space and are often not cognitively fully functional is extremely aggravating.





Still, all that being said, I really like my WM 202 and have no regrets. At present the cognoscenti choice in WiFi portable radios seems to be between these two, and in my personal opinion the decision is relatively marginal - except maybe if you have super-strong feelings about the relative look and feel - as the original reviewer obviously had. As far as I can see, either way you won’t go too far wrong.





Hint to manufacturers: One huge improvement would be to add a “Record (and Playback)” function onto a high capacity removable SD card. Now THAT would be an incredibly useful feature for either of the WM 202 or PEF! As far as I know only the Morphy Richards Internet Radio purports to have that function (at least one review suggests it plain doesn’t work) although it generally got really rotten reviews - which perhaps is not surprising - after all it is way down market! However, it seems a bit illogical that top of the range portables don’t have it, but the bottom of the range has at least made an effort?

Kit

November 21, 2009, 6:56 pm

I love my WM-202, although not as stylish as the 50's looking radios it's functions outweigh the looks.


When looking to buy this I had certain objectives in mind:


DAB


Stereo Speakers


Some way of playing mp3's





In the store I went to this was the only one that matched all three of these simple specifications.


When I got it home and tried the Wifi features I soon forgot about the way it looked, some people have complained it's not easy to use but as a self confessed technophile I think the controls are perfectly fine. I even got my technophobe girlfriend using the streaming features to blast out the likes of Kylie Mynogue and she is over the moon with this feature.


The only thing I think lacking from this device is a pause/rewind radio feature.


The only fault I've seen from it was when the Wifi signal was low and I was listening to internet radio it seemed to reset itself, a slight repositioning of my wireless hub resolved this.





All in all when compared to the 50's styled units this has much better sound and added features.

ptreacy

March 15, 2012, 6:28 am

Incredibly poorly constructed if not totally stupid review by somebody who does this website a grave disservice. This is a high end and solidly built product, if not the best that Roberts has ever produced. This is probably the World's first truly portable DAB, FM and internet radio. It has a 'listen again' feature that allows you to listen to previously broadcast programmes at your leisure. It uses broadband, wired Ethernet connection and USB. It also offers the additional benefit of streaming music stored on your PC through the radio through an incorporated media player. The reviewer is looking at a Ferrari and saying he doesn't like the colour, without giving any view of the technology behind the unit. On that matter, it is also well styled and the buttons are all extremely perfunctory.
My opinion- get rid of your reviewer or put him/her back to writing about Kim Kardashian for a living for they certainly know NOTHING about radios, DAM,FM or Internet!!!!

ptreacy

March 15, 2012, 6:32 am

Ed says 'I am intrigued. Those of you who have bought this radio, do you use the streaming and internet radio features much?'
Sorry what else would we use it for?? Watching television?.
Is this review website for real?

margaret

February 22, 2015, 9:51 pm

amazed at comments. Simply want tp play classical music stations eg Lyric in Ireland. Can't listen to sound so atrocious. Am I missing something? My CDs on a wreck of a JVC with the accompanying speakers far superior .

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