Radio has for a long time become an indulgence for the kitchen: it's great to listen to programmes and music whilst you cook. Roberts have recognised this fact and released the RDK-2, a radio designed specifically for the kitchen.
First-up, this is no ordinary DAB radio. Rather than standing on a worktop, the RDK-2 is designed to be mounted under a wall cabinet, so is a tidy solution, keeping it off your work surface maximising space to roll out your pastry, and avoiding any spillages. In this regard, it is nice to see not only a mounting kit, but also a drilling template, making installation a breeze.
The clever mounting bracket built-in to the radio also allows you to mount it on cabinets that have a facia strip or trim along the bottom edge of the cabinet, by adding in extra spacers, although this doesn’t appear to be covered in the instructions. It’s not too tricky to figure out however. It is worth testing your chosen location to ensure that you do get the DAB reception that you need and that it isn’t mounted over a kettle, toaster or other kitchen gadget that will damage the radio.
The radio itself is white plastic with a customary Roberts yellow LCD display on the front, which has reasonably large characters, so easy to see from some distance. As this radio is designed to be slung under a wall cabinet, the speaker is on the underside. It is a pretty good speaker too, with plenty of volume, but not so that it would replace your Hi-Fi. At louder volumes things do tend to get very boomy, which is common to Roberts radios, but does have the advantage of adding some bass at more moderate volumes, giving a nice rounded quality to music.
The front panel houses that two-line LCD display, as well as the touch controls. The touch controls are convenient for the kitchen as it avoids mess getting in and around any buttons. No matter how hard you try, you can’t keep those sticky mince pie fingers away from the radio, but a quick wipe and things are clean again.
You get the normal controls you’d expect from a DAB radio for scanning through stations as well as five presets. Volume is set using up and down arrows rather than a knob, which, whilst not our preferred control method, fits it’s application in this case. You also get FM support, but there is no AM.
There are also a range of more advanced functions. An alarm that can be set for daily, weekdays or weekends, with buzzing or music playback, along with a snooze function. There is also a neat egg timer function which you can use to time cooking - up to 99 minutes - and there is a regular sleep timer too. You also get Pause Plus, which allows you to pause live radio, similar to Sky+ or Freeview+ with TV. The display will helpfully tell you what the delay is, to save confusion when the news appears at the wrong time.
But the real bonus feature hiding behind a flip-down panel is an SD card slot. This will allow you to playback music from a compatible card, as well as record from the radio straight to the card. It only supports cards up to 2GB and doesn’t support SDHC cards, but it’s inclusion is an interesting development and does make the RDK-2 a flexible unit. Music playback will scroll track information too, which is a nice touch, but the radio doesn’t understand folders, so any files you want to play need to be in the root directory, and it only supports MP2 and MP3 formats.
An auxiliary 3.5mm jack is also included, which allows you to hook-up an iPod or similar to play through the speaker, which sounds great, but if you have mounted the unit under a cupboard, you’ll either have a cable draped across your kitchen, or an iPod in the cupboard.
Overall the Roberts RDK-2 does its job well, whilst being convenient and saving work space in a kitchen. Though the performance is good overall our only real criticism would be the design. As this is predominantly a white plastic radio it might not fit into some people’s premium kitchens. Yes, it will fit in many kitchen designs, but an alternative black or grey unit, perhaps with some chrome trim, might appeal to those with granite worktops and the like.
But all-in-all an impressive performer that had no problems picking up DAB stations in our kitchen. Installation should not be beyond even a basic DIYer and a comprehensive range of functions round out a good package, albeit at a price that looks slightly inflated to accommodate its practical application.