The Roberts Ortus DAB Charge is an alarm clock radio with DAB/DAB+/FM radio and Bluetooth. Compatible smartphones can be charged by placing a phone on the wireless charging pad on the top of the radio. The Ortus DAB Charge also has a USB socket on the rear of the radio for charging other types of smartphone.
The radio is available in black or white and has dual alarms as well as a snooze function.
Setting up the clock radio
In the box is the Ortus DAB Charge, a quick start guide and the warranty and safety information.
The antenna is a wire which needs to be fully stretched out for the best reception. After uncurling the wire and positioning it in a vertical position behind a bedside table we switched the radio on for the first time. The radio received all the DAB digital radios stations we would expect to find. There were also no problems tuning into FM radio stations.
The power adapter is wired into the clock radio rather than being a separate unit, as is the case with the Roberts Ortus 2 and Ortus 3 models. Roberts sell adapters separately for those radios which means they can be replaced by the user, but this won’t be possible with this clock radio.
The user guide is a single sheet of paper as is more often the case with DAB radios now. While not the normal type of manual we are used to with older Roberts radios the instructions are easy enough to follow. The text is clear and the included diagrams are useful. This is especially helpful for setting alarms.
A free two-year warranty is included with the radio. Some reviews on the Roberts website mention an error with wireless charging, but this isn’t something we have experienced over several months with the radio. It would be worth keeping any receipts and the box with the little bag (to protect the display during shipping) should there be any issues.
Roberts currently offers four alarm clock radios with DAB digital radio. The Ortus DAB Charge is the same price as the Ortus 2 which has a smaller footprint and a slightly nicer design in our opinion.
When shopping for the Ortus DAB Charge be sure to buy the version with DAB rather than the cheaper Ortus Charge which only has FM radio.
A single speaker is included on the underside of the Roberts Ortus DAB Charge. Due to the wireless charging pad and the design of the radio this is the only surface where the speaker can be placed.
We mostly tested the alarm with Heart 90s and the BBC World Service. Both of these sounded absolutely good despite the downward ‘firing’ speaker. The Ortus DAB Charge seems to be a little quieter than other Roberts clock radios we’ve tested. The volume is adjusted in fairly small increments and can go quite low, making it easy to find an ideal volume for night time listening.
Roberts doesn’t list the power output or speaker size for the radio. There aren’t any EQ or bass/treble settings to change.
Sound from the 3.5mm headphone socket on the rear of the radio is a little flat, but it’s great to have the socket included for personal listening at night. It’s also good to find that the output is in stereo, despite the clock radio having a single speaker, which provided for a better experience when listening to BBC Radio 2 and Jazz FM.
The buttons on the top of the radio control the tuning, volume and other functions. In the centre of the controls is the OK / Snooze button. The other 12 buttons are laid out in two rows of three on each side. It’s easy to get used to the power button being in the top left and the volume being the two buttons furthest to the right. But at night it’s difficult to find the tuning buttons and switching to a different preset could be quite difficult without switching a light on.
Saving and recalling the 10 FM and 10 DAB presets is easy with the preset and tuning up and down buttons. There aren’t any dedicated preset buttons.
The display shows the time or 8 characters of a station name in the DAB digital radio mode. The station name is shown when RDS is available in the FM mode. After a few seconds of displaying the station name in either radio mode the display will revert to showing the time.
Characters on the display are a little thin, but they are fairly big and easy to see at night.
Four brightness levels are included for the display: low, med 1, med 2 or high. When set to the auto option the display brightness will adjust automatically using a sensor next to the OK button. This is a nice touch and works well.
It’s a shame that Bluetooth is not one of the options when setting an alarm. Apps like Radioplayer have an alarm setting and it would have been good to be able to wake up to stations which are available online but not on DAB or FM. Perhaps there is a risk that this wouldn’t be reliable if there was a problem with the Bluetooth connection or an app missing the alarm.
Overall the Roberts Ortus DAB Charge is a good all-round alarm clock radio with digital radio, Bluetooth and wireless charging. Both the black and white models look good. The buttons might not make the radio easy to use at night, but the most commonly used buttons are placed sensibly.
The Ortus DAB Charge costs the same as the Ortus 2 we reviewed previously. That model is slightly easier to use thanks to the knob on the top of the device, but it lacks wireless charging and Bluetooth. Adjusting the brightness of the display automatically is a nice feature to find on a clock radio at this price.