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Roberts Stream 83I
on 10 January 2011
This radio is smart in a glossy piano black, and is surprisingly small for all the features packed into it. It is a 'mains only' unit, using an adaptor to change mains voltage to 12 volts DC. This means that you could use it in a caravan or boat as well as your home. On test, the radio consumed about 300ma at 12 volts, so the 1.5 amp adaptor provided is more than adequate.
Set-up proved easy by following the instruction book. You need to configure the internet access before use, so a broadband connection is required to receive internet radio stations. This can be a wired connection to your router, or a wireless connection if you have a router with this facility. Once set up, the radio can tune to stations from all over the world using your broadband connection. There is no need to switch on your computer.
I used a wireless connection, and got good results within about 20 feet of the router. Beyond this, reception became rather intermittant, with the radio reloading the web-site at frequent intervals. My laptop computer however, had no difficulty in staying connected anywhere in my house, so I have to assume that the Roberts has a rather poor wireless card built into it that needs to be improved. Using the wired option provided faultless connection.
I next selected DAB on the set, and managed to tune in several multiplexes. Given I live in a poor reception area, this was an above average result, and I can recommend the Roberts if you are looking for a good DAB radio. However, if you don't want internet radio as well, the previous model is much better value for the price.
FM mode is also included, but proved useless. It just wasn't possible to tune in anything with a clean signal. Putting the radio into mono mode helped slightly, but the main problem seems to be an interference field generated by the internet circuitary within the set, which is picked up through the ariel. The previous model may well be better on FM as it doesn't have what is basically a computer built in. If FM is important to you, don't buy this radio.
Finally, sound quality. This is a small radio with a big voice for its size. Even bass frequencies are heard, due to the large, rear facing speaker and ported cabinet design. The two small speakers at the front provide a little stereo effect and are quite directional. If you move off axis to the radio, it sounds muddy and undetailed. At the front, the results are pleasing and sound as if you are listening to a much larger sound system. You can alter the equalisation by accessing a sub-menu, but the bass and treble controls are crude. An adjustment to optimise for music, results in too much bass on the spoken voice. This effects clarity of speech and you end up with a compromise setting. If it were possible to boost frequencies below 150hz, without changing any frequency above this, the sound would be better.