The DAB radio is in danger. Internet radios are swiftly coming down in price, and now that even technopohobes have Wi-Fi in their homes, they are a fierce rival for the kitchen-top DAB unit. The Roberts Stream 105 dumps the DAB and FM tuners, offering the pure streaming experience for under a hundred pounds. Let’s find out how it compares to the best from Pure and Logitech.
Roberts’s Stream 105 is an unassuming little radio. Compared to the strikingly stylish Pure Evoke Flow and the shiny black Logitech Squeezebox Radio, it looks traditional. From just a quick look, you wouldn’t necessarily assume it’s anything more advanced than a DAB set – it looks very similar to the Roberts Classic Lite DAB/FM combo. There’s no big colour display, for one.
Turn the unit around and you’ll notice the first dead giveaway – there’s no aerial. While many Internet radio units back-up their streaming with an FM or DAB tuner, the Wave 105 doesn’t.
All the radio’s controls are laid out intuitively on the top panel, which is helpfully sloped to make viewing from a distance easier. The control you’ll end up using the most if the large knob to the right, used to scroll through menus and as the select button – it depresses with a substantial click. This dial is great. It’s big, it’s rubbised on the sides and it’s pretty well-made.
The speaker grille, covering the single speaker cone, is coated metal and fairly strong. It flexes a little under pressure, but this is normal.
Next to the competition though, the Roberts Wave 105 does otherwise seem a bit light and plasticy. This, along with the carry handle, helps keep the radio super-portable – but it’s important to remember the lack of DAB/FM tuners limits the usefulness of this gadget outside of the home. It’s happy to be powered by six C-type batteries instead of the AC adaptor, but take it into a summery meadow and you’re unlikely to find a Wi-Fi hotspot.
It’s not a complete dead loss out in the field though. Around the back there’s a 3.5mm auxiliary input, and with the help of an up-to-date smartphone there’s a good chance you could tether your mobile internet connection to get up its streaming and running. Or alternatively you could let the smartphone do the streaming legwork. Smartphones spoil all the fun.
Also around the back of the Roberts Wave 105 are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB port, to update the device’s software. It’s a type B socket though, so you can’t plug in USB sticks to play MP3s.