Saturday 7 July 2018

Sony XDR-P1DBP Pocket DAB/DAB+/FM Radio

...and pocket it is! I've tried to take a photo to demonstrate the diminutive size of this radio by adding a Credit Card sized card alongside. It really is tiny! This certainly complies with the brief of take-anywhere - and to use even in a front jeans pocket. It's not much bigger than a pack of cards.

This Sony is a return to the 'old days' of Sony, in my view, when they made their consumer products properly, with great looking and feeling materials, solid looking and feeling clicky buttons, metal and tough plastics with, in this case, a sturdy aerial that seems like it's going to last. The buttons and switches have that 'Canon dSLR' feel about them, nicely designed and finished.

I usually shy away from this kind of device when it doesn't have removable AA/AAA 'corner shop' batteries, considering OffGrid activity, but decided on the basis of various reviews, on this occasion, to forego that benefit. The word is that DAB drinks battery power in gulps anyway, so maybe a lithium-ion rechargeable arrangement is preferable in this instance. Using FM radio where possible of course makes the battery last even longer.

The unit is charged by a MicroUSB cable (any old one will do). Playing time depends on how you use it of course, as DAB will use more battery, higher volume will use more battery, fringe areas of connectivity will use more battery. But I seem to get about 2-3 'working days' out of a charge. The battery charges up in between 2-4hrs depending on the charger employed. You get a cable, but not a plug.

DAB+ is covered for the few places and stations that the standard has taken off (not many!) but the DAB picks up well wherever I need it and want to have the extra quality over FM. But the stuff I tend to listen to is usually available on FM anyway, so that saves battery, as I said, and ensures a reception in more fringe areas. DAB is, of course, great for a huge range of digital stations.

Maximum volume is more than loud enough for a large room or personal listening out and about on the beach or walking. There's no tone/bass/treble controls, but the built-in speaker sounds just fine without. It's not got booming bass, but it's perfect for casual listening from such a small unit. There's a 3.5mm headphone socket on the right along with separated volume up/down buttons. The stereo sound through ear/headphones sounds great to me(!), but will obviously vary for you based on expectation in comparison with other devices and equipment you're used to.

On the top there's a power 'slider' which doubles up as a hold button so that settings are not adjusted in a pocket(?) assuming you can get it to work in a pocket without an aerial up! There's also 3 pre-set buttons on top, which double up for DAB/FM, giving 6, and in Settings another 10 can be assigned, then accessible via the Menu system.

On the front there is an Auto Tune button, which scans for stations, large buttons for DAB/FM switching, Back (in Menus), a navigating/enter rocker and Menu. The Menu button moves you into all the Settings including Sleep Timer, Time setting, Station Information, Pre-sets etc. The LCD screen lights up orange for about 30 seconds after last input and the screen echos information about what you're listening to and whatever data the broadcast is carrying along with a battery-state icon.

The aerial extends to about 19" and for this area of West Sussex (nestled in the South Downs hills) it's needed for any DAB, though I sometimes get away without for FM. But of course your mileage will vary depending on location. On the back of the device is a pull-out simple 'stand' which makes sure it doesn't fall over on a flat surface. Feels fairly robust. There's a lanyard double-hole on the back and that's about it!

White or black for £59 from AmazonUK (, yes, you can get units for half the price that do the same things, but in my humble opinion, none of them are so nicely made and feel like they're going to last any length of time. (I think the closest units to this, in terms of buying confidence and performance, are the ones made by Tecsun, so check that out too.) But this Sony unit leads the pack. Recommended.

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