The newest addition to the Phillips DAB range, the DA1000, is a stylish little number. With its dark mirrored face and curved edges, it's one of the best-looking pocket radios on the market, and turned on it sounds impressive too.
It's amazing how easy it is for pocket DAB makers to get the look or feel of their product wrong. Even the PURE Pocket DAB, with its clean lines and uncluttered layout, felt over-sized and cumbersome. That's why it's refreshing to see something like the Philips DA1000. From the mirrored front to the satisfying feeling of its weight in your hand, it feels like a well made machine that you'd be happy to be seen with.
As is the norm with most pocket DAB radios, there are five buttons on the front: DAB/FM, Menu, Preset and Info, and at the centre sits a well designed toggle that both navigates the menus and controls the volume and stations. Tucked in around the edge of the unit are the Power, Lock and Eq (equaliser) buttons, while the charger input and headphone output sit on opposite sides.
The screen is a black-on-grey three row LCD. The top is reserved for volume, battery life, time, equaliser settings and signal, while the lower lines show the station name and whatever info you've chosen to view. Text is easy to read thanks to a backlight, which stops coming on when the battery is nearly dead.
Thanks to the built-in battery charger you can use either the rechargeable batteries supplied or disposables. The unit runs on two AA batteries that Philips says will last up to ten hours, although our tests fell considerably short of that (see 'Performance').
Press the power button, and if the DA1000 doesn't find a station immediately, a quick trip through the menu to the auto-tune function gives the option of a local or a full scan.
To store up to ten favourites, just pick your station, press Preset, choose which number to save it to and hold the button until the station name appears. It's the same for FM stations, which can be reached through the DAB/FM button.
Philips hasn't done much to break the mould with the DA1000. There's no pause/rewind function and no recorder (although the FM tuner is a nice extra), but there is one thing that sets it apart -- the recharger means no more having to stock up on AA batteries, which could be a big saving if you're a heavy user.
The rechargeable batteries supplied weren't quite as impressive as Philips makes out, however. Although they promise ten hours, when we tested them at a sensible volume they lasted a reasonable four and a half hours. But while they may not have reached the double figures suggested on the back, if you remember to plug the DA1000 in each evening they should comfortably cover an average day's use.
To test the DA1000, we listened in the office, had a walk around town, strolled in the park, sat on the train and loafed around the house. The results were impressive, with the signal quality rarely straying from crystal clarity. In fact, the first sign of burbling only began as the batteries reached their last legs.
With six equaliser settings we were able to get the best out of every station, and the headphones supplied were a comfortable fit, perfect if you need some background noise on the running machine at the gym.
The main drawback on this model is the battery life. It's a real power-guzzler, getting through a pair of normal AA batteries in well under the time that Philips suggests. We managed just over six hours, but as mentioned above, if you're using rechargeable batteries expect less than that.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide