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Easy-to-use digital radios

By Alison Potter

Our experts pick three great-sounding and simple FM and DAB radios that all have handy features to make it easy to listen to the radio.

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A poorly designed digital radio will leave you fumbling with tiny buttons and struggling to find your favourite station due to overly complicated menus. These radios are a waste of money and you won’t get the most out of them.

Our independent lab tests help us to identify the radios that are straightforward to use and have features that are particularly useful if you’ve got dexterity problems, hearing impairment or poor eyesight.  

Not only are these Best Buy radios in the table below impressive-sounding products, but they also have carefully considered designs and functions that can make them simpler and more pleasurable to use.

Which? members can log in now to see our selection below. If you’re not yet a member, you can unlock our recommendations, and all our digital radio reviews, by taking out a £1 Which? trial.

Easy to use radios

Pure Siesta Rise
Today's best price £73.80
Which? score 82%
Reviewed Dec 2015
Best Buy
Overall sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Battery operable:
Member exclusive
Remote control:
Member exclusive

Our highest-scoring alarm clock radio has an impressively large and clear screen, with a bright display that can be dimmed for night-time use. It sounds great and the buttons on top are well spaced. The only downside is the small, hard-to-read button labels.

John Lewis Spectrum Duo
Typical price £60.00
Which? score 82%
Reviewed Jan 2014
Best Buy
Overall sound quality:
5 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Battery operable:
Member exclusive
Remote control:
Member exclusive

This inexpensive radio sounds superb. It's a basic, bare-bones radio that's simple to use because there's not much to it. It has a bright screen, the knobs are well sized and the buttons are adequately spaced, although the button labelling could be larger.

Ruark Audio R1 MK3
Today's best price £219.00
Which? score 73%
Reviewed Jan 2015
Best Buy
Overall sound quality:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Battery operable:
Member exclusive
Remote control:
Member exclusive

The sizeable volume knob on top of this radio and the surrounding buttons are very straightforward to use. The large screen is basic, but clear and easy to read. It’s expensive, but the sound quality is excellent and this is a very high-quality, well-built radio.

Roberts Duet 2
Today's best price £195.00
Which? score 72%
Reviewed Mar 2011
Best Buy
Overall sound quality:
3 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Battery operable:
Member exclusive
Remote control:
Member exclusive

Made in conjunction with the British Wireless for the Blind Fund, this radio excels in terms of ease of use. It has protruding yellow buttons and knobs, which are well sized and easy to operate, as well as a clear amber backlit screen. It's a solid and simple radio that sounds good, although it isn't cheap.

Pure Evoke H4
Today's best price £149.99
Which? score 67%
Reviewed Dec 2016
Overall sound quality:
3 out of 5
Ease of use:
5 out of 5
Battery operable:
Member exclusive
Remote control:
Member exclusive

The high-quality colour screen is easy to read in any light conditions and the large handle on top operates as a giant snooze button. The protruding knobs are easy to grip, although the buttons and their labels are on the small side. But overall it's a good-sounding, simple radio.

Digital radios: features to choose to make them easy to use

Knobs and dials

Radios with physical knobs and dials are generally much easier to use as changing volume or switching stations is just a turn away, rather than having to use fiddly buttons. The chunkier the dials, the easier they are to grip. It’s also handy if they are a contrasting colour to the actual body of the radio.

Display screens

Good radios generally have large displays that are bright and clear enough to be seen from various angles and in different light conditions. Some can even be dimmed when it's time for bed, so you're not bathed in a disruptive glow as you try to get to sleep.

Preset buttons

Digital radios tune in automatically to all of the available stations when you first turn them on. You can scroll through the names of the stations and store your favourites as presets. Beware, though, as some radios can have a high number of presets but a fiddly journey to access them. Direct-access preset buttons are much easier to use as they can be accessed instantly with the push of a button.

Alarms

The best radios will have multiple independent alarms so you can set two different wake-up times if need be. They will also have separate settings for weekdays and weekends, so you don’t have to be constantly reprogramming the alarm every week. Some sets also have alarms that function as kitchen timers, which is handy when cooking.

Remote controls

Some radios come with a remote control, so you can have your radio on a high shelf and still operate it with ease. Many brands including Roberts, Pure and VQ have free apps that you can download onto your smartphone to also turn it into a remote control for your radio.

Simple menus

Some radios have incredibly complex menus that are tricky to navigate. Before buying, try to see if you can visit a retailer that stocks it and have a demonstration so you can check you’re happy with how it operates. Many shops are happy to do this.

Carrying handle

If you plan to move your radio about, opt for one with an adequate carrying handle. On many Pure radios the carrying handle is touch sensitive and doubles as the snooze button, which makes it very easy to hit snooze so you don’t disturb your partner with the alarm.

Volume and tone presets

If you’re particular in terms of sound, many radios have tone presets with optimised settings for different musical genres and spoken word. Some also have bass and treble controls, so you can turn up different elements of the radio to get it sounding how you want it.

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