Let’s get it out of the way early: this is how a radio should look. Cold hard plastic and towers of chrome have their place within the hi-fi design manual, but there’s no denying the irresistible charm that exudes from practically every single item in Roberts’ bulging collection of retro radios. The new Revival Uno BT shares the same good-looking genes as its siblings, and this handsome little devil raises an important question in terms of radio design: why would you want to look at anything else?
Looks, as many a failed actor or pop star will attest to, can only take you so far. It’s easy to be suckered in by the cute “buy me, buy me” appeal of the Revival range, especially when you start envisioning how one daubed in pastel cream might look in your conservatory and another in duck egg blue would fit perfectly into the aesthetic of your downstairs bathroom.
We’re not, however, reviewing the Revival Uno BT on the basis of its looks. Instead, the Roberts radio needs to be capable of fulfilling its primary function of filling whichever room in which you place it with confident and compelling sound. At the not-inconsiderable price of £150, it also needs to demonstrate its credentials as a portable Bluetooth speaker and domestic radio all in one.
Build & design
Roberts’ commitment to cute, classic British retro aesthetics has made it one of the most recognisable radio brands around, so much so that you’ll immediately take one look at the Revival Uno BT and know it to be a Roberts product (if the large ‘Roberts’ logo emblazoned on the front doesn’t already give that away).
That’s no bad thing – the Revival Uno BT comes in a choice of eight colours if limited edition versions are taken into account, meaning you can have the radio in practically any shade you like. They all look great, although we’re particularly fond of the way our teal blue test model classily blends into any environment while also bringing a little pizazz to its surroundings.
It’s also really well made to match. Encased in a satisfyingly plush leather with a dominant bronze-coloured grille at the front, the Uno BT feels supremely well constructed and hardwearing beneath its classy exterior. The leather carry strap doesn’t ever give you the sense it’s about to give way and cause your new radio to suffer a nasty concussion, and that foldable antenna is likewise similarly sturdy and dependable in its design.
Radio FM, DAB/DAB+
Network features N/A
Connections 3.5mm headphone jack, 3.5mm aux in
Dimensions (hwd) 15.4 x 21.1 x 8.7cm
Finishes x8 (black, deep green, dusky pink, pastel cream, duck egg, dove grey, teal blue, sunburst yellow)
The Uno isn’t even particularly tricky to use once you get the hang of it, although you might initially struggle to get to grips with your new radio without consulting the manual first. There are four main selection buttons – Mode, Menu, Auto-Tune and the rather ambiguous Info button – the first of which can be used for putting the radio into either FM, DAB or Bluetooth pairing mode.
A dedicated Favourite button, meanwhile, lets you select a favoured station by pressing and holding the smaller Favourite button, whereas Presets can be programmed by (you guessed it) pressing and holding the similarly small Preset button until a tick appears on the given station. You can save up to 30 presets which can then be accessed on a separate menu.
Incidentally, you’d better get used to accessing these functions from the radio’s main body as the Roberts doesn't come equipped with a remote, so it might be worth digging out that manual if you get stuck after all.
Other operations require the use of the right tuning knob. Pressing the menu button and then scrolling through using the knob lets you delve deeper to make selections for things like your EQ, setting alarms, brightness and language. You can also use the right knob to play and pause streaming songs, as well as skip back and forth with either a turn to the left or right respectively.
The Roberts Revival Uno BT gives you a host of digital radio stations while also supporting streaming across the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and pretty much anything else your phone is playing while connected via Bluetooth. It’s a rather basic hook-up-and-play sort of affair for every service, although the chance to skip and pause tracks using the radio itself is a nice added feature, especially when you consider the Uno’s potential as a portable unit.
On the subject of portability, the Revival Uno BT can be taken pretty much anywhere you like thanks to its rather impressive 25 hours max battery life, provided you whack four AAs into the slot provided at the bottom. You’ll likely struggle to get the full 25 hours with Bluetooth going and the volume pushed beyond halfway, but even so, the Uno’s portability gives it another dimension altogether. It certainly makes the stylish operator an attractive alternative to the best portable speakers offered by the likes of JBL, Audio Pro and Sonos.
If you’re not keen on taking the Roberts to a place where it may end up getting mud or dirt plastered over that pristine exterior, there’s no harm in simply using the Uno as a classic domestic radio, and while it may be a little small for some who prefer a real centrepiece unit to stand proudly in the kitchen or sitting room, the offering of DAB, DAB+, Bluetooth streaming and standard FM radio is more than enough to make the Uno BT a genuine proposition for your domestic set-up. If, of course, the sound is up to snuff.
The Roberts Revival Uno BT is not, by almost any measure, a large unit. It's a device more at home sitting on the windowsill of a small kitchen than it is holding court within a grand, opulent ballroom. A thing of this size and form is going to get most of its use as a domestic radio that can be popped into any room in a standard house or flat, bouncing around spaces wherever it's needed rather than squatting in the corner of your dining room for the next ten years like the wizened grandmother in a Dickens novel.
The task for the Uno BT, then, is to provide cohesive and satisfactory sound that will fill such spaces without sounding strained or unwieldy when pushed to its limit. Initial impressions are positive, and while it may take time for the handsome blighter to really get going, we’re quietly impressed by its handling of Chopin’s Nocturne No.2 In C-Sharp Minor as well as Gabriel Fauré’s Trois Romances Sans Paroles. Those tricky piano textures feel melodious and properly formed, the Uno BT conveying the essence of such a tricky instrument with confident fidelity.
The problems start, however, when we move away from either the piano or vocal-focused arrangements which the Roberts seems to be so adept at handling. We pick out Calvin Harris’ Feels as our test track du jour and find the experience to be somewhat flat, with the song’s essential bounce and rhythm somewhat lacking when played through what is admittedly a very diminutive unit.
Nirvana’s Come As You Are is next, and new cracks begin to show. We’re not expecting deep, throbbing bass from a unit so small, but there’s a noticeable feeling of compression that makes the Roberts’ presentation feel a little thin and limited as a result. The track’s distinctive opening bass hook doesn’t quite grab your attention here, while those early drum hits come across as overly flat and lacking in resonance and tone. We place the Roberts side-by-side with its larger cousin, the Award-winning Roberts Stream 94L, and while the 94L is admittedly a larger and pricier model, it’s also better at delivering a more balanced, structured and cohesive overall sound.
None of this is disastrous for the Uno BT, and we have to reiterate that this is a small radio speaker playing in a medium-sized testing room. It does, however, indicate that the Uno BT has its strengths and weaknesses, feeling far more comfortable with glistening piano tones and front-loaded vocals than it does with conveying the sway and dynamics of a funk track or the details and character of a piece of grungey alt-rock.
Roberts has consistently impressed us over the past few years with its well-made, carefully designed and excellent-sounding range of retro radios. The Revival Uno BT is another strong entry, a versatile package that confidently blends streaming smarts with portability, ease of use and satisfactory sound presentation delivered in a supremely good-looking package.
That £150 asking price may seem a little steep at first, but the Revival Uno BT makes a case for itself not just with regard to how competent it sounds but how versatile it is as both a domestic radio, a portable Bluetooth speaker and a sort of hi-fi fashion accessory. If you’re currently seeking out mobile sound courtesy of a very nice-looking portable speaker, the Revival Uno BT makes a strong case for your consideration.
- Sound 4
- Features 5
- Build 5
Read our review of the Roberts Stream 94L
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