The Scandinavian-style smooth-edged false wood veneer and tuning dials that echo old analogue radios immediately flag up this DAB radio offering from Tangent as one with style in mind. The design too is individual: that the speaker on this cube-like radio is presented on top.
Sadly, Tangent doesn't turn the world of DAB radio on its head. Controls for basic functions are clumsy and needlessly complex, however carefully they're presented on the unit's front panel.
On Pure's Evoke line-up (our current 'usability' benchmark), the tuning dial also acts as a push-button for selecting different options. Most commands on this Tangent - tuning between stations, setting alarms and the sleep timer - involve not just using the command button and dial, but also an 'enter' key. Having to use two hands is annoying, and with buttons so small this is really fiddly.
Ditto the double-function buttons, which necessitate holding them down for two seconds to access some 'hidden' menus. What is going on? What is certain is that while the Tangent does have plenty of basic features and inputs it does take some getting used to. At least the tuning and volume dials are large and there's a row of five one-touch preset buttons.
While there's no optical output, something that's standard on a lot of DAB radios much cheaper than this one, there is a stereo audio input and an output, something that does extend its functionality somewhat. You can plug in an iPod or connect to any amplifier and use as a DAB module: the Tangent will feel at home in any room in the house, although the lack of any battery power option is a shame.
Toggling between DAB, FM and the stereo input using the 'mode' button involves a delay, and the unit is capable of sensing that there's an iPod plugged into its rear. At all other times there's no need to toggle over the 'Aux' input. Trouble is, plug in an iPod and it's impossible to listen to DAB radio. Odd.
The auto tune function works well and in our test there was no need to extend the telescopic aerial house on the unit's rear. The sound from the mono speaker on the top relies too much on bass, with everything sounding a little too heavy. Still, better that than no bass.
Tuning into BBC 6 Music, a play of The Stones' Tumbling Dice is so bassy that Jagger's vocals are dulled somewhat, but turn up the volume and it's hard to think of any DAB radio at this size that can deliver as much of the low frequencies. Voice radio also benefits, with Parkinson's musings on Radio 2 presented with clarity and depth, although the domination of bass does seem a bit put-on and unnatural.
Stylish, well-built, versatile and functional with adequate sound, Tangent has come up with a heavy, but streamlined package that should do well despite lacking any advanced features. They'll love it in Sweden. What Home Cinema