DAB radios are often primed for life on a bedside table, but nobody said that they have to stay on the same one. Frequent travellers after a high-end alarm clock/music centre will love this retro clamshell device, which houses a seriously impressive DAB radio and Bluetooth speaker.
Available in piano-lacquered red, white or black finishes and selling for the high price of £219 at the time of review, the Swiss-made high-grade Model XS includes DAB and DAB+ tuners and adds an FM radio and two separate alarms, which will be as handy in hotel rooms as on the bedside table.
If those alarms are useful on the road, so are the touch-sensitive buttons, a line-in for attaching any audio device via a 3.5mm audio jack, and a hard carry case that both protects and props-up the stereo 2.1 speaker. Shut the clamshell case and the Model XS instantly powers-down. Somehow the designers have managed to get a retractable FM aerial slotted into the rear, too.
The speaker grille is gun-metal and strong enough for a life on the road, though I particularly like the classy way its LED display is mounted behind; the glowing red numbers that tell the time shine from behind the grille, which looks great. That LED display also shows the volume level, and whether the Model XS is in DAB, FM, aux-in or Bluetooth mode. Looking just as good are the top-mounted TouchLight controls, which are backlit when touched.
Despite the alarms and the carry case, what really makes the Model XS standout for portability – and that could just mean around the house rather than across the globe – is its built-in rechargeable 2,700 mA lithium battery.
However, it does only last five hours; I could have guessed that by looking at its 1570 x 102 x 115mm, 500g bulk, so it's not quite enough for the Model XS to be parted from its power cable for long.
Music from this tiny 2.1 system is surprisingly refined. Delivered by two one-inch tweeters and a two-inch woofer, audio is all about detail, giving five hours of bright yet warm stereo sound. Wireless audio streaming via Bluetooth is more rudimentary, though it can take a few attempts to establish a connection with a smartphone. Bluetooth music sounds good, though music via the line-in does sound more robust.
With DAB, DAB+, Bluetooth, touch-sensitive buttons, line-in and a hard carry case that both protects and props-up the stereo 2.1 speaker, the Model XS is excessively impressive. Music is refined, well balanced and gets to high volumes without a hint of distortion; for DAB fans who like taking radio around the world, or want a cute desktop option, this is the best compact all-in-one in the business.
However, pairing with a smartphone can take a few attempts, and the rechargeable battery lasts only five-hours on what is an expensive product.
Ultimately, this pricey slab of Swiss-engineering might be a tad retro for some, but there's no doubting the top tech going on inside a solid build quality; DAB, Bluetooth, wake-up alarms and a five-hour battery make this baby blaster the best all-in-one around.