Roberts BluTune 65 review

Plenty of features make this an excellent DAB option

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Our Verdict

The Roberts BluTune 65 has all the features needed to make it an ultra-convenient bedside table DAB radio. It can charge smartphones and tablets, play music over Bluetooth and even has sleep timers and alarms. All that's missing is top of the range sound quality.

For

  • Able to dim LCD Screen
  • USB 2.0 present
  • Well designed control dials
  • Useful sleep timer

Against

  • Very large
  • Poor build quality
  • Disappointing sound quality

Roberts has been making DAB radios since the genre was created over a decade ago, but while its rivals are concentrating on paring-down their efforts and replacing iPhone docks with Bluetooth modules, the BluTune 65 is trying to be all things.

Bundling the now obligatory Bluetooth streaming module with stereo speakers and an iPhone dock that's fitted with an Apple Lightning connector, the BluTune 65 is more a tabletop hi-fi than a one-trick DAB radio.

Selling for around £150 at the time of review, the BluTune 65 is a soft touch. Available with orange, blue and black faux leather and a snap-off fabric speaker grille it all looks good but the build quality is pretty basic for the money.

However, the 191 x 274 x 96mm, 1.8kg BluTune 65 has hardware where it counts, with a 3.5mm aux in and aux out (the latter is a rare feature on a DAB radio) alongside a headphones jack. Inside are tuners for DAB, DAB+ and FM RDS, though it's surely that double-act of Bluetooth and an Apple Lightning-equipped docking area that are the key add-ons. The latter is optional, and physically hidden beneath a flap; the 'open' button springs-up that flap to reveal the dock.

Roberts BluTune 65 review

As well as the regular 3.5mm aux the Roberts BluTune 65 also has an aux out and a USB 2.0 slot

I'm not convinced Android phone users will pay extra for such a dock if they're not planning on using it, though the provision of source-neutral Bluetooth connectivity probably does widen the appeal of the BluTune 65. Roberts suggest putting the BluTune 65 in the kitchen and using it as a stand for an iPad while displaying recipes and simultaneously recharging.

That's not a bad idea, though there's some recharging fun for Android devices too, with a fully functional USB 2.0 slot on the rear; I know of no other tabletop or bedside DAB radio with such a thing. Excellent work, Roberts.

Roberts BluTune 65 review

The control panel has many well thought out features including a dimmer for the LCD screen

The control panel on top of the BluTune 65 is very well thought through, though it's not exactly high-end in terms of materials and build quality. Nicely backlit when touched, there's a button to dim the LCD screen on the front, one to set a couple of alarms, a toggle to set a sleep timer – a great feature for those who like to fall asleep to radio.

There are also dials for both volume and station select that are easy to use. A single button gives access to twenty station presets, which is a rather messy solution since two hands need to be used to toggle through them. A tiny remote control is included, too.

Roberts BluTune 65 review

Unlike some DAB radios the remote is tiny

However well designed the BluTune 65 is, the convenience of its many features can't completely hide the fact that sound quality isn't up there with the best DAB radios and tabletop hi-fis. The passive bass radiator behaves well, with refined low frequency effects within music, and there's some decent stereo separation, too, though the overall sound is a little muffled.

Verdict

It might sound like a small thing, but an easily accessible, dedicated dimmer switch that dulls the LCD screen instantly makes the BluTune 65 suitable for a bedroom. Other real-world touches exist on the BluTune 65, such as a control panel that is gently backlit only when touched, and control dials that snag with each change of station, making it harder to overshoot when choosing a DAB station. Ditto a sleep timer, which can be toggled from 15-90 minutes.

Kudos also to Roberts for including a USB 2.0 slot on the rear of the BluTune 65 for recharging any smartphone or tablet; the unit's likely placement on a bedside table or in a kitchen make this especially useful.

However, the soft-touch faux leather doesn't look very heard-wearing, while the deep chassis of the BluTune 65 will completely dominate most bedside tables. Sound quality, while hardly poor, isn't quite up there with the best when it comes to music.

Ultimately, the optional Apple Lightning connector on the top of this tabletop DAB – along with a USB slot for recharging a phone, a dim-able LCD screen, and excellent sleep timers/alarms – makes the BluTune65 ultra-convenient on a bedside table.