Goodmans has been at the forefront of integrating DAB into multi-purpose units, and with the GCR1930DAB it has produced a radio anchored to its basic purpose: replacing your old alarm clock. Just as importantly, at £70 the price won't give you nightmares.
We try not to point out the obvious, but sometimes we can't avoid it: the GCR1930 looks like an egg. An egg laid by a robo-pterodactyl, but an egg nonetheless.
Measuring just 140 by 170 by 140mm, the GCR1930 is perfectly sized to nestle among everything else on the bedside table -- unlike other DAB radios such as BT's Aviator behemoth, which offers more of a 'me or a glass of water' proposition. The front is littered with buttons and screens, allowing almost every function to have its own control. Goodmans ran out of space before it ran out of functions, so some of the switches are around the sides.
Of the two screens, both of which are hidden behind a translucent green plastic face, the upper deals with the radio, while the lower, bigger display is reserved for time and alarm settings. The digits are big, and clearly visible from the other side of the room, thanks to the contrasty green-on-black LCD screen.
The speakers run down the back and a big snooze alarm sits at the top. Unlike most digital radios, the GCR1930 has a flexible T-aerial that can be tacked to a wall or tucked down behind a table.
One great feature of DAB is the ability of most sets to pick up the correct time from the radio signal. The GCR1930 doesn't have this feature, so we had to program the time ourselves. It's a surprising omission, especially given that this radio is primarily an alarm clock.
The time and alarm setup are identical and feel like a throwback to clock radios of old. You start by pressing the Fast button to cycle through the 24-hour clock. Once you've overshot the right time, you go back with the Slow button.
Apart from the clock, setting up the GCR1930 is simple. A quick press of the Scan button is all that is needed to tune in the stations, and storing the presets is easy -- just hold down the Preset button until the menu flashes on the screen. There are 20 preset slots available.
To put it simply, the GCR1930 is just a clock/radio. It doesn't offer anything groundbreaking, but if you're buying it as an upmarket alarm clock, it does everything you'll want it to. There are two alarms, a choice of being woken up by music or a buzzer, and snooze and sleep functions. It also has a dimmer switch for anyone who finds the clock too bright in the dark, which is a nice touch.
The other feature worth mentioning is the option to insert a battery to stop the clock resetting if the power goes. It's not compulsory, but it means you'll still be woken up on time even if there's a power cut. It also allows the clock to be moved from one socket to another without reprogramming the time.
As an alarm clock, the GCR1930 does its job very well, although a few things that let it down. Most noticeably, the switch used to toggle between radio on/off and alarm modes is tucked around the side, making it difficult to see which option you are selecting without turning the unit around. Also -- and this is something we only noticed after some time -- its position along the side means it's often a two-handed job to flick between functions: one to hold the unit and one to move the switch. Perhaps if it had been placed at the front this wouldn't have been such an annoyance.
Sound quality on the GCR1930 isn't great. The speakers don't do the music justice, but if you're only going to be using it to jolt you out of bed in the morning, it won't be a problem. The reception is good, even without the aerial up, and the beauty of the bendy aerial is that it can be tucked away where it can't be seen and still do its job.
In all, particularly at this price, we'd be hard-pushed not to recommend this radio. It'll certainly trump anything else you've been using to wake yourself up with -- just don't expect it to blow you away sonically.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide