Sony XDR-S20 review

A basic DAB radio at a not-so-basic price

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Our Verdict

There really isn't enough here for us to recommend buying one

For

  • Good functionality and ease of Use

    SD card slot

Against

  • Flat-sounding on music channels

Sony's XDR-S20 costs twice as much as the likes of Pure's One, but it appears that Sony hasn't done the math; we expect more than we get for our £100.

At least the One has found a kindred spirit in the style stakes, as the XDR-S20 looks like it would be more at home in a hospice than a stylish home entertainment setup. At least it doesn't smell of Deep Heat and Murray Mints.

And thanks to the cheap-looking black plastic coating the radio is covered in grubby fingerprints within seconds - a nice touch. If you decide on the XDR-S20, opting for the white model may be a good idea.

This DAB combines a speaker at the front with a garish LCD display screen that shows clock and radio functions, signal strength, bit-rate, scrolling text and all the station details. It may be migraine-inducing to look at, but it gets the job done.

Moving on to the basic controls, there are two knobs stuck like limpets on the radio's side. One allows you to whiz through the available channels and incorporates a favourite's selector, which tunes in automatically (and very slowly) when the radio is turned on.

Equally slow is switching between channels, involving a delay of five seconds, even though you can manually scroll through as well. It's a big drawback, all the same.

Not all bad

Fortunately, the Sony isn't a sonic disaster when you finally tune into the station you desire, although (like the One) it's slender in the bass department - particularly highlighted during most musical performances. Dialogue-based channels are clear without blowing you away. Still, the radio's FM capabilities are a bonus.

But that's as much as you're going to get from this radio, apart from a sleep timer and clock display - basic stuff. Connectivity is a void too - there are no connections apart from a headphone jack! It may be easy to use and the sound is adequate, but that's hardly a recommendation for £100.

A rather bland and underwhelming effort, then.