Roberts Zen Plus DAB Radio Alarm Clock Review

Roberts Zen Plus radio on bedside table next to iPhone

The Roberts Zen Plus is a brand new bedside radio from one of our favourite audio brands. While Roberts have tried their hand at clock radios in the past, most notably with their Ortus range, they have gone for something a little different with the Zen. As well as a fresh design approach, this radio has a number of extra features that help it stand out from the crowd. But how does it shape up against the competition? Let's take a look!

Related: Top 10 Best Bedside DAB Radio Alarm Clocks

Design & build

Let's start out by taking a look at the design of the Zen Plus. Most DAB radios nowadays have a built-in alarm feature. However, this is often just a secondary feature; they are more designed as radios first and alarm clocks second. As you can see from the images here, though, that's not the case with the Zen Plus. Roberts have gone back to basics with the design here, so it more closely resembles a traditional (albeit stylish) alarm clock.

It's spherical in shape, but with the ends cut for the screen and back panel. It comes in three different colours: white, black, and duck egg blue. All of them have a nice fabric speaker grille on the top, and then a plastic bottom half, along with a little rubber foot on the bottom to stop them getting knocked about on your bedside table.

When turned off or on standby, it looks like the only button on the Zen Plus is the big one on the top. But when it's switched on, you'll see that the controls are actually in a touchscreen panel on the top half of the screen, with the bottom half dedicated to the time. The button on the top is the select button, but it's also a snooze button. That gives it the edge over some other radio alarm clocks, in that you won't be left looking for which button to press when you just want a little extra shut-eye.

While the Roberts Zen Plus isn't the most intuitive radio to use, we've found that tends to be the case with a majority of clock radios. Once you get the hand of how everything works, though, it's fairly straightforward to operate, and you're unlikely to spend much time in the menus once you get past the initial setup. There's a manual included in the box, but also a quick-start guide printed on the internal packaging, which we found very useful ourselves.

One final point while we're on the subject of the design, which quite a number of customers do ask us about, is the length of the power cable. This is nice and long, which is crucial with a clock radio since there's really only one place you can put it. The cable itself is a standard USB-A one, and while there's a power adapter included, you could easily pick up a USB-A cable extender if you need it to reach a little bit longer.

Sound performance

So that's all about the design, now onto the sound quality of the Zen Plus. In the past, we've found that quite a few traditional alarm clock radios tend to be a little bit under par when compared to other models of the same brand. This is normally due to their design; many compromise on audio components so they can still fit neatly on your bedside table.

However, we didn't find that to be the case at all with this radio. The spherical shape lends itself really well to having a good dispersion of sound, so it easily fills a room without having to go too loud, and you'll be able to hear it nice and clearly if you're listening to the radio while you're getting ready. In particular, the bass frequencies of these are really good compared even to standard smaller DAB radios. So again, it does a really good job of filling a room with high-quality sound.


There are actually two different versions of this radio available. There's the standard Zen, which just has FM radio, and the Zen Plus, which also has DAB radio. As well as giving you access to more stations, this also means the Zen Plus pulls the date and time straight from the radio signal. So, when you first plug it in, there's no need to manually set the time and date. You can save up to 10 station presets on each mode. That's as simple as pressing and holding the button on the top while you're listening to the radio and then choosing the preset slot. It's a good feature to have with a radio with a smaller screen as it saves you having to flick through all the stations one at a time to find the ones that you listen to most.

The Zen Plus also has Bluetooth connectivity built in as well, so you can connect up your phone. As well as listening to music, that might be of interest to people who like to listen to podcasts while they're lying in bed. It's also got a USB charging port on the back as well, so you can plug your phone straight in to this to charge up without having to use up a plug socket by your bedside.

You might be wondering why this is called the "Zen". Well, there is a reason for that: it's because it includes got built-in sleep sounds. You can either have run while you go to sleep, before turning off automatically after a set period of time, or you can use it in lieu of the standard radio or buzzer alarm if you want to be woken up a bit more gently. There are thirteen of them built in, a mixture of nature sounds and white noises, along with as few more unusual ones. Our experts were particularly fond of the "kitten purring" or the "record run-out groove" sounds.

One final thing that's worth highlighting, although a pretty standard feature on clock radios, is that by default the screen is set to auto-brightness. There's an IR sensor on the front, so when it's light, it brightens up the screen so you can still see the time nice and clearly, and then when it's dark, the screen dims so it's not going to keep you awake at night. Alternatively you can set it manually to high, medium, or low brightness as well.

Roberts Zen Plus: The Verdict

Our experts were very impressed by the Roberts Zen Plus. While many clock radios compromise on either design or sound quality, Roberts have struck the ideal balance here, to create a model that sounds as good as it looks.

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