This portable DAB radio is just 78g and great for a shirt pocket, but it’s badly in need of some extra volume
Despite the creeping digital radio revolution in the UK – 48.5% of homes have now replaced their analogue wireless with a DAB – the format has failed to catch-on among travellers.
Wot no tuner?
TravGear still mourns for an decade-old Nokia phone that used to include an FM tuner, but perhaps it’s precisely because no smartphone manufacturer has ever included a DAB tuner that the new format has had to take a backseat to streaming radio apps (such as the excellent TuneIn Radio and UK-centric Radioplayer). However, get in a busy sports stadium and there’s not even a whiff of bandwidth, Plans to tune-in to Test Match Special can quickly go awry.
Step forward the VQ Blighty (‘Blighty’ being the nickname Brits give to their homeland), a DAB/DAB+/FM radio that’s sold in red or grey, weighs a mere 78g, and is about half the size of most smartphones.
It tunes in quickly, using the included earphones as an antenna, and its 10-hour battery recharges via a microUSB cable. The 1.6-inch LCD screen is clear in sunlight, and packed with information – certainly enough for scrolling news headlines as well as station names – while the navigation controls are easy to understand.
However, there is one small problem. The VQ Blighty is quiet. It lacks a decent amplifier. That much is obvious because not only are voices and music thin and with clipped treble detail (‘S’ sounds like ‘Shhh’), but we couldn’t get the volume up to listenable levels while walking down a busy city street. There was also some interference on other DAB stations.
Spinal Tap fans might think the volume, which goes up to 16, is more than enough, but in practice the VQ Blighty is just too darned quiet for a life on the road. That’s a shame because it’s lightweight, sleek and easy to use design is otherwise incredibly impressive.