Hands-on review: Lenco PDR-046GY Eco DAB+ Radio
Image credit: Lenco
Your eco-friendly portable pal for DAB+ radio and Bluetooth audio duties.
Despite what streaming music and video services might have you believe, radio lives – and is thriving. All those pop songs about how great the radio is must be paying off. Listening numbers are up across the board: people still want that friendly, familiar voice to accompany them through their day, whether it's mostly concerned with pop, rock, classical, news or sport.
Lenco's rather prosaically named PDR-046GY radio is a neat and stylish portable device, offering both DAB+ and FM radio signals (no AM/MW/LW) as well as Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connections and an Aux In socket for your favourite legacy equipment still performing well (hello, 2005 iPod shuffle). There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack.
This being 2023, Lenco has also taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of launching yet another electronic product into the world on its first steps to eventually becoming part of our shamefully mushrooming e-waste mountain.
To minimise its footprint, the PDR-046GY body is made of a long-lasting composite material comprised of ABS plastic and wheat fibre, while the top control plate is made of bamboo. The shipping carton it comes in is also made from recycled FSC cardboard, with zero plastic used in the packaging inside. It's all small steps, but at least they're ones in the right direction, so kudos to Lenco for making the effort.
An integrated 2,000mAh rechargeable battery is inside, with an accompanying USB-C jack on the back of the unit, which makes the radio both quick to recharge and also eminently portable. No more fishing around in kitchen drawers for spare AA batteries, just the thoroughly modern-world paradigm of remembering to recharge regularly so it's ready to go whenever you are.
From our tests, the battery seems to last a good long while, with the inevitable caveat of how loud you play it and if you're pulling down digital radio and streaming via Bluetooth or merely piping in sound from an auxiliary device. Lenco claims seven continuous hours of playback, which will vary, but you could easily get through a regular day's work or beach-chill weekender with this by your side.
It's a svelte, attractive specimen (much like this reviewer, arf!), measuring 18 x 6.8 x 5.50cm and is available in either black or white (which has a touch of the classy silver about it in some lights). Two rows of seven buttons are arranged on top of that bamboo control plate, facilitating power on/off, preset selection, input mode, radio scan, alarm and snooze. Two volume +/- buttons are at the right-hand end.
Front and centre of the unit – neatly separating the left and right 2.5W speakers – is a nicely crisp 6cm (2.4in) TFT LCD colour display, detailing selected radio station and so forth. The system font used is large and clear, so it's easy to read from across a normal-sized room. This gives the Lenco a modern edge and advantage over similar products, which often only have a basic monochrome display or no screen at all. Five different languages are also available: German, English, Spanish, French and Dutch.
Radio reception has been strong and clear on the DBA+ setting, as we explored a variety of stations, both old favourites and fresh revelations up and down the dial. Our FM experience was much the same, only without that useful metadata often embedded in a DAB signal (song playing, artist and such like). Searching for DAB channels can also be done by name, making locating them as easy as radio pie.
The sound is good and goes reasonably loud, with a stated total output power of 6W. Obviously, this is not intended as a party speaker for blasting out bangers, but it's got more than enough oomph for typical radio duties around the house, garden, shed, picnic, park and beach blanket. Lenco has used a passive radiator design for the speakers, rather than them being electrically driven, and the resulting sound comes across as warm, full and natural.
The radio can also be used as an alarm clock, with dual alarm, snooze function and dimmable screen options, so it's a useful bedside companion. With the dual alarm, you can, for example, have different alarms for the working week and the weekend. There's also a built-in sleep timer, whereby the radio will turn itself off after a set amount of time (15, 30, 45, 60 or 90 minutes), so you can drift off to sleep with a soothing radio voice or music burbling in your ear. When in standby mode, the current time is displayed like a clock, with the time automagically synchronised with the DAB signal. In the morning, you can choose to either wake up to an alarm buzzer sound or your preferred radio station.
The Lenco PDR-046GY is simply a very good portable DAB+ radio, with additional Bluetooth speaker functions and some useful old-school clock-radio skills. There's no touchscreen, no Wi-Fi or network hookup, no internet radio, no accompanying app and the Bluetooth is receive only. It's also neither waterproof nor water resistant. None of these caveats are major drawbacks. You can carry this little champ everywhere with you and when the moment is right, just like a classic radio from the glory days of the medium, you can just turn it on, tune it in and sit back as the mellifluous tones of your voice of choice soothe your soul. Sometimes less is pleasingly more.
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