The Roberts Rambler Mini is a brand new portable radio from one of Britain's favourite audio brands. Like many of their other radios, the Rambler Mini draws on Roberts' rich heritage. However, they've added a bit of a modern spin to its feature set, while also updating the design to be a bit more durable when you're taking it out and about with you. But how does it compare to other models- and is it worth the price tag? Our experts put it to the test in another of our in-depth reviews. Read on to find out what we thought of it!
Related: Top 10 Best Portable DAB Radios
As you've probably already guessed from the name, the Rambler Mini is based on the full-sized Roberts Rambler. The first model to bear this name was launched way back in the 1970s, but the current version is the Rambler BT. The most notable difference between that model and the Mini is, unsurprisingly, the size, with the latter being about two-thirds the size of the Rambler BT. This immediately makes this new radio a little more portable than its predecessor, as while it lacks the carry handle of the BT, it's a lot easier to just pick up and take with you.
More significantly, though the materials used in the Rambler Mini are completely different from those used in the full-sized Rambler BT. While the Rambler BT shares the same leatherette casing that most Roberts radios nowadays have, the Rambler Mini has a plastic casing. While admittedly not as pretty as some of their larger models, it does make the Mini a fair bit more durable. While users might be a bit hesitant to take the Roberts Revival Petite out to the park for fear of scuffing the leatherette, that's not going to be an issue with the Rambler Mini.
The Rambler Mini is available in four different colours. The one pictured in this post is the Sunburst Yellow model, but there's also a Leaf Green, Duck Egg Blue, and Pastel Cream one available as well. Each has a wood-effect plastic panel on either end, which on other Ramblers is real wood. However, this does look the part unless you inspect it very closely.
One final difference between the Rambler Mini and the Rambler BT is the price. While the Rambler BT retails at about £150, the Mini one comes in at £99.99- so a fair bit less expensive.
As well as their distinctive designs, Roberts are also well-known for the excellent sound quality of their radios. The Rambler Mini maybe isn't quite up there with some of their better-sounding models, but that is partly due to the decreased size which means there's less space to fit in plenty of audio components. The one thing missing from this that's on the Revival Petite, which is their other smaller portable model, is a passive bass radiator, and we did its absence when comparing the two models side by side. As a result, the Rambler Mini is maybe a tiny bit tinnier than the Petite, although it still sounds good, and if you're going to be using it out and about, somewhere with a lot of background noise, you're probably not going to notice that difference in sound quality.
One thing that we will say in the Rambler Mini's favour is that it can go extremely loud for a radio of such a small size. When turned all the way up, there's not much in the way of audible distortion, either, which is a problem that we've encountered with quite a lot of other DAB radios. That's great for a portable radio, since it means if you're using somewhere outside with a lot of background noise, the Rambler Mini would be a good choice.
As we've been mentioning throughout this review, the Rambler Mini is really intended as a portable DAB radio. One advantage it has over a lot of other portable radios is that it has a built-in rechargeable battery, rather than taking standard AAs or AAAs. Those can be a bit of a pain if you're going through lots of disposables, and you'll often need to take rechargeables out to power them back up. That's not a problem with the Rambler Mini, though, as it just charges via the included USB-C charger. If you've got another USB-C cable (which you likely will), you might want to use that, as the included one is a little bit short, but it's fine for just charging it up. Roberts haven't stated the maximum battery life that they estimate from the Rambler Mini, but we used it for a whole weekend during testing and still had two-thirds of the battery left.
As for features, you've got DAB and FM modes, as well as DAB+ compatibility, so you get access to all the newer stations as they're made available, as well as any locally available stations that are only on FM. Signal strength was really good with this. On the back you have a telescopic antenna. With the Petite, the current model of the Petite doesn't have that, so it's good for getting good clear reception. I've been testing it out in our basement office here where some radios can struggle to get a signal, but this did fine without really having to extend it all the way, so I'd say it's a good performer when it comes to reception. You can also save station presets, by holding down this button here when you're listening to a station. You can store up to 10 DAB and up to 10 FM presets that way.
There's also Bluetooth connectivity built in. This was primarily how we tested the Rambler Mini, and as with most Bluetooth speakers, it's really simple to set up. There's no aux-in port, which means you can only listen from another device wirelessly, but there is a headphone jack on the back if you want to enjoy some private listening.
One final feature that we've not actually encountered before in any portable radios or Bluetooth speakers: on the back, there's a little switch with a padlock symbol on it. If you flip that, it locks all of the button controls, so if you're picking up the radio and accidentally press a button, it's not going to suddenly switch the mode or the station. You can still turn the Bluetooth volume up and down on the other device, but it also locks the volume wheel as well. So again, this is really designed with portability in mind, as if you chuck it in a rucksack, you're not going to find that your bag suddenly starts blaring music because something's bumped the power button.
One last thing that's worth highlighting: over the last couple of years, Roberts have been transitioning all their packaging to be completely plastic-free. As well as being more eco-friendly, that also means you get a little quick-start guide printed on the packaging. There's a full manual available in the box as well, but if you lose that, there's also a QR code on the box which will take you straight to the manual online.
Roberts Rambler Mini: The Verdict
On the whole, our experts were pretty impressed with the Roberts Rambler Mini. While it's admittedly a little bit more expensive than models of a similar spec from other brands, you do get that distinctive Roberts look, as well as solid sound quality for a portable radio.