The unit is powered by two AA batteries, and Sony claims that it will last up to ten hours. This actually isn’t that impressive, with the Pure Digital Pocket Dab 1000 offering up to 16 hours listening. This means that you’ll go through a fair few batteries depending on use. I would have preferred it having a built-in rechargeable battery with AAs used as an add-on to extend its staying power. You can however, plug in a power adaptor to run the player from a wall socket.
Styling wise, Sony has pretty much hit the mark, with a smart black casing with the Sony logo in silver at the top and the DAB logo at the base. The interface is controlled by four buttons and a joystick that moves up and down, and these sport a silver finish that contrasts well with the black casing.
The killer though is the display with its cool white on black dot matrix lettering. Though it looks good, it actually isn’t the easiest screen to read without pressing the backlight, but this can’t be kept on and the effect only lasts for a few seconds. What’s unique about the Sony though is that the screen displays four lines of text so you can really get the full benefit of DAB’s informational service.
The top line of the screen tells you if you are tuned in via DAB or FM and usefully, the time. On the left is a signal strength indicator. Underneath this the display shows the transmitter you’re receiving from, the station you’re tuned into, its genre, and underneath this, any scrolling text information the station is sending out. Pressing the info button gives you further data with each button press, such as the (usually irritatingly low) bit-rate the station is broadcasting at, the signal level out of 100, the frequency the station is broadcasting on, and more text info. Some of this info is genuinely useful, such as the DJ currently on-air, the title of the track playing, the one coming up and the number to text the station on.
One irritating feature though is the loud beep that occurs with every button press, and I couldn’t see an option to turn it off.
The first time you start the player it will automatically set itself up and scan through the DAB frequencies to pick up stations. Our Ascot offices are something unfortunately of a coverage blackspot for radio, TV and mobile phones so it was no surprise it couldn’t get a decent signal with either DAB or FM. At home, closer to London, it far much better though the signal was only strong when I was near a window.