The Goodmans GSR80DAB is a great-looking digital radio with the added bonus of FM built in. It has problems, though, when it comes to the audio it produces: a constant hiss that's just too loud to ignore. But at just £70, it's also very competitively priced.
With its mesh front and big volume control, the GSR80 reminds us of an '80s ghetto blaster. But instead of aiming for the retro look, Goodmans has done a fine job of giving the old style a modern spin. With its rounded edges and the satisfyingly solid feel of the controls, this is a unit that looks just as comfortable in a modern kitchen as it would on a picnic rug in the park.
The controls themselves are almost all laid out on the front of the GSR80, meaning that very little menu navigation is needed. The station, display, autotune and preset buttons are all neatly and sensibly ordered around the volume control, with only the more obscure features (like the 12/24 hour clock option) relegated to the menu button.
Across the back of the unit there's a line out and a battery hatch. If you want to use the radio away from a power point, you'll need to use four LR20 (D size) batteries. The handle across the top looks good when pushed down, but can be cumbersome if you need to use it while the aerial is up.
As with most digital radios, getting the GSR80 set up is pretty easy -- just plug it in and away you go. If you want to be sure you're getting all the stations, holding down the autotune button for a second starts a quick scan for all the stations available in your area (we picked up nearly 60).
Pressing the DAB/FM button toggles between the two types of radio, and we found the controls for both FM and DAB to be intuitive enough, although having a separate set of buttons to scan and manually tune in FM is slightly unusual.
Some things were less straightforward. There are ten preset slots for digital and FM stations, but storing them, a process which is normally like on a car stereo, baffled us for a while. It wasn't until we discovered a difference between clicking the preset button and holding it down that we cracked it. Of course, we could have used the manual, but something as conventional as a radio should be usable without burying your head in a book.
The black-on-blue LCD screen allows for the bare minimum of information. The station name takes up the top line, while the information you can choose to display (scrolling text, signal strength, station information, bit rate, audio mode, time or battery level) occupies the second row.
Apart from that, features are not a selling point for the GSR80. Aside from the obvious extra of the FM radio, and a basic sleep timer, there's nothing to mention here.
The GSR80's sound quality fails to match the clean lines of its bodywork. On every station we listened to, there was a mild hissing in the background, regardless of signal strength, and no amount of scanning could get rid of it. Even when the volume is turned right down, the hint of a noise remains in the background.
The beauty of digital radio is supposed to be the crystal-clear sound, and by that marker, Goodmans has failed with the GSR80. Listening to Classic FM, the hiss was always audible, particularly during the quieter moments. However, if you're just looking for a radio to belt out Radio 1, you won't notice the effect nearly as much.
During our tests, the GSR80 had no problems with reception, but for those living in areas with poor reception, the antenna is removable to allow you to connect it to a bigger aerial.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide