Bush BR40DAB digital radio
This is a decent radio if you're after something portable, battery powered and with stereo sound
- Battery powered
- Cheap-feeling controls
- Sluggish interface
Bush's BR40DAB digital radio can run on batteries, allowing you to use it wherever you want. That's its big selling point. It's also stereo and offers decent enough sound through two 3W speakers. Its controls and menu aren't great though, and will be frustrating if you use them frequently.
The wooden look of the Bush BR40DAB portable digital radio is attractive, and its sound quality is decent enough for a small radio. However, the control buttons on the front, and the menu system in general, just don't make for an enjoyable user experience.
An old-style look makes the Bush BR40DAB stand out from many other digital radios in the market. A large, mesh grille dominates the front panel and carries a Bush badge in the centre; it's flanked by ends that have been given a wooden-looking finish. The controls, and a simple two-line LCD screen are at the bottom, while the rear has the power, headphone and auxiliary-in ports, and an extendable antenna (for FM).
What you'll also find at the back is a battery compartment that can accommodate six AA batteries. This is perhaps the best part of this digital radio because it allows you to take the radio with you easily around your home. You could transport it to your garage, yard or balcony, or even use it while on a picnic or at the beach — although there is nothing rugged about it so you'll have to be very careful about how you handle it.
There isn't much to it apart from that. It's a dedicated radio that plays both digital and analogue signals, but if you want to play music off a smartphone or another type of audio device, you can plug them in via the analogue auxiliary input. These are the three basic modes of the Bush BR40DAB: digital radio (DAB+), FM radio and Aux in. You don't get Wi-Fi or Internet radio streaming.
What you do get is a radio that has stereo speakers that can put out about 3W of power each. They sound decent enough, especially if you're using the radio in a small kitchen or bedroom — we used it in our Test Centre, which is a big room — and the results are loud enough to fill those areas with useful sound. The sound is clear for the most part, and enjoyable to listen to — especially at work — but it can sometimes struggle depending on the type of music that's being played. ABC Classic FM sounded great, but some bass-heavy songs off our MP3 player, for example, did put a strain on the speakers. You might have to adjust the bass and treble controls manually if you find the sound to be a little biased. There are dedicated buttons for these on the credit-card-sized remote control (the control's buttons are shallow and functions can take a second before they are executed).
We're not fans of the physical control buttons that appear on this radio. They feel very cheap and nasty, and they make an awful clicking noise when you press them. Not only that, the radio can be sluggish when changing stations, which makes for an annoying overall user experience. It's the type of radio that's fine if you only listen to one station and never deviate from that, but if you enjoy scanning stations to see what else is on, you'll have to wait a few seconds before the station can be tuned in and starts playing.
The little LCD screen that displays the station info is backilt with a blue colour that somehow fits in with the overall look that Bush is trying to convey with this model, and if you hit the 'Info' button, you can make it display the date and time or different information about the station (such as the frequency or the show name). By default it displays the 'now playing' information, if it's available from the station you are tuned in to.
Because the radio has the potential to find so many stations, and because it will be a chore to flick through all of them, you'll have to put the radio's presets function to good use. Simply press the 'Preset' button for a few seconds until the preset number starts flashing on the screen, select a number and press 'Select'. It's the easiest and quickest way to switch stations, but it'll take some time to set it all up with your favourite stations. It can only store 10 digital stations (and 10 FM stations), which seems to be the standard for most digital radios in the market.
Other features of the Bush radio include alarm and sleep functions. The alarm pulses annoyingly and sounds forced. In a time when most of us use our phones for an alarm anyway, it's probably not a feature that's likely to get that much use except as a backup for really early wake-up calls.
All up, the Bush BR40DAB is a decent choice if you want a digital radio that's can be battery powered and portable. Its sound quality is just decent and it can be frustrating to use thanks to a sluggish interface and cheap buttons. If you plan on just setting it to one station and leaving it, or only changing stations once in a while, then this won't be a problem. It's priced competitively though, considering it's a stereo product.
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