Taking a closer look at the front, we see a grill covering the R1’s single driver, which uses a bottom exiting bass port to enhance the low end response. Below this are two 3.5mm jack sockets for headphone output and auxiliary input, both of which we’re happy in principle to see. However, we’re not sure having them on the front is strictly necessary. We can appreciate why you’d want the headphones on the front – easy to find and reach – and including the line-in on there as well keeps things symmetrical, but once you’ve plugged in your PMP or headphones the wires trailing from the front just destroys the aesthetic. It’s not a big gripe but it’s worth bearing in mind.
The front-mounted LCD screen uses black writing on a white background to create a mutual display that matches the rest of the R1’s styling, no matter what finish you choose. When viewed straight-on the screen is easy to read with crisp lettering and decent contrast – it’s particularly good at night – but when viewed from any sort of angle the display rapidly becomes unreadable. This may not sound like a big problem but if you plan to use the radio as your primary alarm, reading the time from the comfort of your bed could well be frustratingly impossible if the radio is positioned at certain angles. Likewise, if you hear a track you like the sound of and want to see its title and artist (this is probably the most useful feature of DAB) you may find yourself needing to close your book, put down your cup of tea, get up out of the armchair, and peer straight at the screen to find out – I know, it’s a hard life!
While on the subject, the information features of the R1 are not as sophisticated as some other rivals. You can’t scroll manually through station information – it scroll across at its own pace – and there’s no support for any Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for quickly viewing upcoming programs. Of course, with the small screen it would be near impossible to read any sort of guide but then that just highlights the problems with the R1’s screen even more.
Round the back we see everything we’d expect on a small DAB radio. There’s an output for an extra speaker (Vita did develop matching speakers but they never actually reached production so this connection isn’t of much use), an auto tune button, and two phono outputs for left and right line-out. Every time you power down the radio, by turning the plug off or unplugging the device, and turn it back on again the auto tune facility kicks in, rapidly finding any available DAB stations. However, if you insist on keeping your radio on at all times one touch of the auto tune button will quickly rescan for you.