A Few Things to Consider When Purchasing a DAB, or Digital Radio

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A Few Things to Consider When Purchasing a DAB, or Digital Radio

Radio has been a predominant force in affecting musical styles, relaying important news and information, and influencing how people choose their entertainment. Radios come in many sizes, from small, pocket-sized radios to larger, free-standing radios with stereo speakers integrated with other audio devices such as CD players and amplifiers.

In 1995, the British Broadcasting Corporation initiated the first digital radio broadcast, providing an alternative to analogue radio broadcasting. This new radio technology is referred to as DAB, or Digital Audio Broadcasting. DAB transmits radio signals digitally using digital transmitters to receivers on digital radios. With the transition from analogue to digital televisions in 2012, there is also a movement to change from analogue to digital audio broadcasting. With 85 per cent of the UK able to receive digital transmissions, the popularity of digital radios has increased significantly. eBay offers a wide variety of different types of digital radios, in a variety of brands, colours, and designs. They come in many different sizes, offering different features and functions. eBay also provides listings for digital radios that may not be found in regular electronics stores or retail stores. When shopping for digital radios, it is important for the shopper to consider a few things like different types of digital radios, their advantages over analogue radios, and their specific features.

Types of Digital Radios

Digital audio broadcasting, or DAB, is the successor to analogue radio broadcasting. Analogue radio broadcasting transmits audio signals electrically through radio wave frequencies to an analogue radio receiver. In comparison, digital audio broadcasting transmits audio signals digitally through number patterns or 'digits' to digital radio receivers.

In order to receive these digital signals, the user needs a digital radio or receiver. A digital radio is capable of receiving both digital and analogue radio signals, but an analogue radio cannot receive digital signals. Digital radios can be more expensive than analogue radios, but they also provide better sound quality, less signal interference, more station choices, and interactive features. They are also more energy efficient than analogue radios, using less electricity and battery power. There are several different types of digital radios to suit any individual style or preference. They include portable digital radios, digital radios with iPod docks, digital clock radios, personal digital radios, digital radios with CD players, and in-car digital radios.

Portable Digital Radios

Portable digital radios are digital radios that can be easily and conveniently transported from one location to another. Many portable digital radios come with a handle on the top of the radio for carrying the radio. They are usually small and come in varying colours and designs. Most portable digital radios are battery-operated, allowing them to be used in many different locations, like the outdoors.

The basic, entry-level portable model is inexpensive and equipped with mono speakers, an aerial for DAB and FM reception, and a battery or plug for an AC power outlet. Some mid-level models offer alarm clocks, station presets, wood trim, DAB, AM, and FM aerial reception, and CD players. The more expensive portable models offer leather trim, and matching colours for any decor. They come with CD players, iPod docks, auxiliary inputs for connecting to MP3 players, CD players, and other electronic devices. They provide touch control, station presets, DAB, AM, and FM aerial reception, and headphone outputs.

Digital Radios with iPod Docks

Digital radios with iPod docks are more expensive than basic, portable digital radios. They have many of the same features as portable digital radios, except they are not as compact and need to be plugged in. The iPod dock with this type of digital radio is also used for charging the iPod. They have DAB and FM reception, stereo speakers, and headphone outputs. Most digital radios with iPod docks also come with remote controls for operation. They offer touch control functions and an LCD screen that displays radio station information, such as station names, song titles, and artists names. Many digital radios with an iPod dock also offer a clock, CD player, and inputs for connecting to other electronic devices, such as an MP3 player or CD player.

Digital Clock Radios

Digital clock radios are digital radios whose two main features are a digital radio with DAB and FM reception and a clock. They are perfect for the bedside stand. The newer models can even be used in the kitchen or shower. They are fairly affordable, and come in many different colours and designs. Many of the clocks have dual alarms, sleep timers, LCD screens displaying station information, and remote controls for easy operation. The more expensive digital clock radios also have CD players and iPod docks.

Personal Digital Radios

Personal digital radios are lightweight, pocket-sized, compact digital radios that easily fit into the palm of a hand. They can be carried to different locations and used while exercising or jogging. They have DAB and FM reception, station presets, headphones, MP3 players, a clock, a built-in rechargeable battery, and a carrying case. For easy operation, many personal digital radios offer an LCD touch screen displaying radio station information.

Digital Radios with CD Players

Most types of digital radios come with CD players. They include portable digital radios, digital radios with an iPod dock, in-car digital radios, and digital clock radios. There are some digital radios whose main feature is a CD player along with DAB and FM reception. These digital radios come with remote controls, and an LCD display screen. A limited number of digital radios with a CD player are Wi-Fi compatible.

In-Car Digital Radios

In-car digital radios are digital radios or adaptors installed for use in a car. They can either be a one piece, integrated unit or a two piece unit with the main unit for the dashboard, and a secondary boot unit for the glovebox. Many in-car digital radios retransmit the DAB signal into an FM signal to be used with the existing car radio. An in-car digital radio has station presets, a CD player, auxiliary inputs, iPod and iPhone compatibility, an LCD display for station information, steering wheel controls, and a roof mount aerial for receiving digital signals.

The following table illustrates the basic differences between the different types of digital radios. These differences are in the areas of basic function, location, and features.

Type of Digital Radio

Basic Function




DAB and FM reception, limited CD and iPod players

Anywhere, battery-operated and AC powered

Small, station presets, headphone outputs

iPod dock

DAB and FM reception, plays and charges iPods, some CD players

Need to be plugged in

Stereo speakers,

LCD touch screen,

headphone outputs, remote control


DAB and FM reception, clock, some iPod docks and CD players

Need AC power, unless portable, and battery-operated

Table top, dual alarms, sleep timers, remote control


DAB and FM reception, MP3 player

Anywhere, rechargeable battery

Pocket-size, station presets, headphones, LCD touch screen

CD player

DAB and FM reception, CD player

Need AC power, unless portable, and battery-operated

Wi-Fi, headphone outputs, remote controls


DAB and FM reception, some CD and iPod players


Roof mount aerial, station presets, LCD screen, steering wheel controls

The table above briefly highlights the basic differences between the different types of digital radios. Each type of digital radio offers its own special functions and features that may not be listed above. When shopping for a digital radio, the buyer should determine the purpose of the digital radio, and what functions, and features it needs before making a personal selection. Once these factors are considered, the buyer can make an informed purchasing decision.

Other Special Features

Many digital radios come with special features that extend the functionality of the device and make the radio easier to use. One special feature is the electronic programme guide. An electronic programme guide, or EPG, displays current and upcoming broadcast programming information in menu format. This helps the user plan and programme listening content several days in advance. Other special features include the ability to pause, rewind, and record broadcast programming, an LCD display screen that provides updated information on music titles, artist listings, advertising offers, news, and weather, as well as Wi-Fi Internet radio capability. Some digital radios allow the user to upload their own personal selections of music from their own computer to the radio.


Radios are an integral part of daily life. They bring the outside world in all its myriad details to the user in the form of important news stories, talented new musicians, intense commentary, and exciting sporting events. They bring the best of entertainment and information to the user, within the convenience and comfort of the user's car and home.

Digital radios are increasing in popularity due to the digital television switchover in 2012. When compared to analogue radios, DAB radios provide better sound quality, are easy to use and programme, have less signal interference, and offer innovative features and functions. They can be used in many different locations, such as the car, home, and office. Some digital radios are also weatherproof and can be used outside. As technology continues to improve, DAB and digital radios also continues to improve, providing better choices for the buyer. These choices can only enhance the ways in which individuals receive entertainment and information from the world around them.

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