Geneva WorldRadio DAB+ review
DAB radios are ten-a-penny these days, from car stereos through to tiny pocket radios powered by a couple of AAA batteries. Given the choice, it means choosing a radio can be quite a daunting, so what you need is something that looks good, sounds great and offers something a bit different, as a package.
The Geneva WorldRadio DAB+ is certainly a looker, and on the surface it appears to have all the features we want in a radio. So we spent a few weeks with one to see how we got on and, if we're honest, the strength of our feeling took us a little by surprise.
When we first picked up the WorldRadio, we weren't sure what to think. It wasn't quite what we expected. It's hard to say what we thought it would be like, but there was something about it that just caught us off guard. But after holding it for a few moments, and also after turning it on, you start to realise that its design is a response to its function. And when you spend a little time with it, you start to realise that it's perfect at its job, and perfectly designed for that job.
The style is both retro and modern. There's a choice of paint finishes. Ours, in silver, looks smart, but it's also available in both black and red, and we think both of them look absolutely stunning.
We also adore the symmetry of the design too. Those of us with some mild OCD - which is pretty much everyone - will love the way the two dials balance each other out and the way the screens sits, entirely dark, until you turn the radio on. Honestly, this radio looks stunning even when it's just sitting on the side in your kitchen.
The pull-out antenna is the only weak point, both in terms of the design and physically. It's solid enough, but it serves to remind us of how far wireless things have come. These days, it's rare to see an antenna on anything, even Wi-Fi routers and the like, so here it's a bit jarring, but it's needed to make the radio work.
Those two dials, which balance the unit are well thought-out too. The left turns the radio on with a push in, and off in the same way. It's also the control for volume, which is logical. On the other side, the dial is for tuning and selecting things. Both are silky smooth and joy to turn. And it's things like that which make all the difference.,
Overall, the WorldRadio just gets everything right. Its metallic case and solid construction restore our faith in manufacturing, and its honestly an object we love to look at, and hold. And that's still painfully rare, even in a world where products are increasingly well-built.
To change modes, you simply press the indicator buttons on the screen. It's kind of a basic touchscreen, but it works fantastically well and gives you quick access to every feature on the radio.
Loads of connectivity
First, the presence of DAB+ here is welcome, although there's still some doubt about how British radio will evolve over the next few years. DAB+ has some massive quality advantages, but switching over to it would leave a lot of existing radio owners without a working service. It's a hard decision, but perhaps it's one that needs to be taken before the country will really embrace DAB.
With that said, the digital radio is stunning here, and honestly, we've never really had a massive issue with DAB in the UK. Of course, we're lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area with lots of lovely sigal, but the audio quality has never given us too much trouble either. Of course, there are times when it can sound a bit stretched, but then so can FM.
Oh, and there is an FM radio here too, with RDS, so even if you're in a non-digital area you can still pick up stations, and you'll get on-screen information too, such as the name of the channel you're tuned to.
Perhaps most crucially, there's Bluetooth here. This means that every phone - pretty much - can connect to this device and play music over it. That's a really smart idea, and it's by far the most widespread and least power-hungry wireless audio system.
And, finally, if you're not a wireless sort of person, you can connect any device to it with a 3.5mm lead. So if you've got an ancient MP3 player, with no wireless, or you think that Bluetooth makes your teeth turn blue, then you're in luck here.
The only thing missing from the WorldRadio is some form of internet radio. But with Bluetooth, you can simply use your phone, tablet or even laptop as a way of getting any station on the planet out of the Geneva's speakers.
One of the things we really like about the WorldDab is its built-in battery. This is something that all digital radios should have, because it gives you the portability that you don't get from most digital music devices. It's claimed to last up to six hours, but that depends on use. FM radio, as you might imagine, is a lot less power-hungry than DAB and Bluetooth.
Even better, the battery is easily accessible by removing the rubber foot at the base of the radio. This is by far the best bit of design we've seen for something like this. It means you can simply pull the old one out when it stops working. The space here is big too, and although it's customised to hold this particular battery, it wouldn't be hard to hack it to take a larger cell, in theory at least.
Because of that carry handle, and the nice weight of the WorldRadio, we can see people who love portable radios very much falling for this as a device that's ideal for anywhere in your home, or garden.
Sound quality and performance
As much as we love the look and features of the WorldRadio, it would be nothing if it didn't sound brilliant. Happily, it sounds utterly brilliant. Firstly, it's got a decent whack of power for a reasonably small - and battery powered - digital radio. It's loud enough to fill a small room, and it can hold its own in a larger room.
What's more, the sound quality is nothing short of brilliant. The bass is balanced to perfection and has loads of power, but never overwhelms anything else, or pushes the built-in speakers beyond their comfort zone. We didn't hear any distortion, even at loud volumes.
DAB, Bluetooth and even FM are all fantastic-sounding and even if the styling of the radio doesn't work for you, we think you'd have a hard time arguing that it's not one of the nicest sounding, and operating, radios you can buy.
It might not be cheap, but the WorldRadio does two things very well. First, its design, both physically and in terms of how it works, is brilliant.
Every feature we want is here, and although you could argue that it should have internet radio functionality, we can see why it doesn't, and there's also a counterargument that with your phone or laptop connected, you have more than enough access to the world's radio stations, and can easily play them via the WorldRadio.
For £270, you'd hope it would be brilliant, but the WorldRadio goes one better and is actually beyond brilliant. We'd spend our own money on one, with no hesitation, and we have no problem recommending you do the same.