It’s a fair bet that you already own a Design Go product. It’s probably a travel adaptor of some sort, or if you’re the adventurous type it might even be a folding iron! Design Go are famous for those eye-candy revolving point-of-sale displays in airport shops, WHSmiths and department stores. Things to replace other things you’ve forgotten to bring.
The Waterproof Sports FM Radio was given to me some time ago and I confess that Design Go’s impenetrable anti-theft packaging, and the need for a sharp knife to open it have put me off testing the little radio for some months. On a recent camping trip I finally took a multitool to it and unleashed the radio from within.
I was impressed by how small and light the radio was. Before the iPod shuffle was invented, it would have been considered miniscule. I happen to think it’s about as small as it should be. Any smaller and I’d lose it or be unable to find the buttons.
It takes a single lithium battery which is easily popped into the back of the radio via a screw-off port. This port has a neat little crocodile clip on it so that the radio can be clipped onto a garment or bag strap. This works really well indeed, which I can say with certainty because the radio stayed put during a kayak capsize.
Due to the same capsize I can also confirm that the unit is waterproof.
The headphones are built-in, and non-replaceable. They actually form the aerial for the radio which means that during activity if the headphone lead swings around your reception comes and goes. Irritating.
The radio is controlled via three buttons on its front. The central button is held down for 2-3 seconds as an on/off. The lower button allows you to scan through available FM stations, which the radio picks up automatically. You can’t tell which station is which, so it’s a case of finding some music you like in a lucky-dip kind of way. Unfortunately the radio doesn’t remember which station you were listening to if you ever turn it off, so you need to search again.
The third button is a sort of volume control. You seem to have a choice between VERY LOUD and LOUD. And since the headphones come with silicone earbuds to block water out of your ears, this can be way too loud at times.
Cost is under £10, which is a redeeming feature for this little gadget. I suppose that if you’re not too fussed about picking a particular FM station, sound quality or reception then it is actually quite a good deal. Perhaps if you’re travelling and want something to pick up the news or kill the hours and not worry about it being stolen, then this would be perfect.
SUMMARY: Design Go’s sub £10 radio isn’t intended to replace your iPod or compete with it on sound quality, but if you’re after some sounds to accompany you on the water, travelling or in the rain, and you’re not picky about what those sounds are, then this could be an option. However, it’s not got great reception, and the volume un-control is irritating. The earbuds are too hard to be comfortable. It has pros and cons, so I’ve awarded it a middling rating.
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