Home / Computing / Peripheral / Roberts solarDAB Radio / Roberts solarDAB Radio

Roberts solarDAB Radio - Roberts solarDAB Radio

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Turning the solarDAB on and the first thing that strikes you is how bright and clear the display is. It's only LCD, so suffers in terms of viewing angles, but the backlight is plenty strong enough to cope in strong sunlight. As a power saving measure the backlight also turns off after 10 seconds of non-usage.

As well as being clear the display refreshes quickly so copes well with quick navigation (a classic problem with LCD displays). It also packs in plenty of information including two lines of generic alphanumeric characters for station and DLS information. Above these are icons for displaying signal strength, battery life and sunlight strength, so you should never be caught short by a flat battery you weren't aware of.

Controls are kept to a minimum and are rubberised, adding further to this radio's toy-like feel, but they're sturdy and most importantly are easy to use. There are buttons for on/off, preset, mode, info, and scan and dials for tuning and volume. Ten presets can be stored with the classic hold-down-to-store, tap-to-recall method used for organising them. With no FM to back up the DAB signal, there are just two modes for this radio; line-in and DAB. This is somewhat of a concern as, despite what the DAB group tells us, DAB reception is still somewhat patchy and FM is often better so can be a handy backup. At least this radio also supports L-band DAB, so will work elsewhere in the world.

The info button, meanwhile, changes which bits of the of DLS information, which is transmitted along with the DAB signal, to display. This includes station frequency, song/artist name, bandwidth, time, station name, and ancillary information like news headlines.

Moving onto to some listening tests and it's clear straight away that the solarDAB lacks depth and has quite a weak, bass-starved sound. This means it particularly struggles with any music that you want to hit you with a bit of power (dance, RnB, heavy metal, etc.). However, there's a satisfactory degree of clarity that means you can still happily have a sing along, whatever your genre of choice. Volume is also surprisingly ample with the solarDAB able to fill a large room or keep you within earshot of the cricket score while playing Frisbee around your picnic.


The Roberts solarDAB isn't the most powerful or feature rich DAB radio on the market but its combination of a lightweight yet tough construction, easy to use controls, superb battery life, solar power, and international DAB compatibility means it's one of the best travel radios we've seen.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 8
  • Features 8
  • Design 8


July 8, 2009, 6:38 am

As a relatively keen fisherman and a diehard cricket fan, this radio intrigues me.

I currently have a windup DAB radio, and this does lead me to be very skeptical about the battery claims on this model. I appreciate the models are completely different, but 1 minute of winding will normally get me 10 minutes of DAB radio, or an hour of FM.

I cannot believe that this radio will both play and also charge at the same time, on the basis of that solar panel. Maybe on the equator, but not during an English summer.

Aside from those concerns it is interesting. However the cricket references surface once again - DAB only? Come on! FM and MW/LW should still be in there. Everyone knows that TMS is better on LW than DAB!

Good luck England btw. Hit Ponting and Katich hard early on, and good times will come. Stop Monty appealing every ball and we may even win.


July 8, 2009, 6:55 am

I'm very sceptical too, that solar cell can't supply more than half a watt at 200mAh on full tilt. Still, if it came in black and White and was half the price then I buy a couple. But not at that price with no FM or LW. Gordon Brown might want to consider subsidising DAB radios like this if he gets the chance to follow through on his crazy-stupid plan to switch off analogue radio.


July 8, 2009, 1:16 pm

Something we tend to forget is that there is not a single European platform for DAB. This means that this radio will not work at all outside UK, so forget taking it to sunnier places on holiday. It's a shame DAB has become a dog's breakfast. Imagine if FM reception was country dependent.


July 8, 2009, 1:27 pm

I bought a white one of these from John Lewis for our bathroom (too many blasted pirate radio stations mess up radio 4 in my area)and it's pretty good. The battery lasts ages and every so often I just stick it on the window ledge before going to work and it's recharged by the time I get home (if it's sunny that is) I'm very satisfied with it.


July 8, 2009, 2:50 pm

Had it have had a winder for when there's not much light i'd have been tempted by this.


Charles 2

July 8, 2009, 4:03 pm

I bought a white one a couple of weeks ago and its excellent. It comes in red and black too (look it up on amazon). Its a bathroom radio so is permanently set to Radio 4 and for this it is perfect. I've found the sound to be loud and clear. Personally I think it is very well made, and the aerial is no issue at all. From my experience standard telescopic aerials tend to get bent and broken over time.

The solar recharging only works when the radio is on - when you buy it there is an initial 24 hour charge for the battery and then it should last for about 3 months. The manual notes that the battery only charges under direct sunlight eg in a conservatory.


July 8, 2009, 4:13 pm

@SweetFA: Well that would've massively added to the bulk and weight. In the testing I've done with this, the battery really does last for as long as Roberts says and it'll charge up on a relatively overcast day.

@Lifethroughalens: They're available in all manner of colours including black.


July 8, 2009, 4:52 pm

Ideal for Cricket & Radio 4 wow I 'm still very young at heart LOL


July 9, 2009, 5:35 pm

"ven ignoring the sticker that our photographer forgot to take off)" Your hand model really also need to sort his nails out!


July 10, 2009, 1:09 am

Not entirely sure what you mean. It's just a normal bloke's nail.


July 11, 2009, 5:39 pm

I would love to buy one of these, to the condition it had no DAB, and FM, MW and LW instead!


comments powered by Disqus