Roberts Stream 205 review
The Stream 205 looks like a fairly generic radio, but looks can be deceiving, for not only does it support DAB and internet radio, it can also stream music from your PC or NAS with just a few button presses. Optionally it can be battery-powered, so if you can receive Wi-Fi in your garden you can enjoy your music while BBQing during the summer months.
There’s no remote control, but Roberts has filled the top of the unit with buttons and dials, as well as a detailed LCD display. The general build quality of the Stream 205 is reasonable considering that the unit’s built primarily from plastic, but it’s a shame that its buttons feel so cheap. Even so, it’s easy to navigate the menu structure using the large dial, but we often found ourselves trying to use it to increase the volume.
For connectivity, there are two USB ports at the back of the unit, an Ethernet port and 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone output and auxiliary input. Only one of the USB ports is of any real use because the other is purely for firmware updates, but you’re still able to play music from a memory stick or external hard disk. The Stream 205 has integrated Wi-Fi too, which is much more suited to its portable nature than a cable.
Sadly, it doesn’t support AirPlay, so you’ll only be able to play music from a PC or NAS device using UPnP, but it works well. Thankfully, all the usual file formats are supported and it had no trouble finding our media server, but the huge list of files it contains caused it to stop and think on more than one occasion. If you want to play music from a smartphone or tablet, the easiest way is to use a 3.5mm audio cable.
Last.FM is fully integrated into the Stream 205 and once you’ve created an account you can listen to any station with just a few button presses. There are even Love and Ban buttons to help you narrow down your music preferences. Very few audio streamers include this feature, so if you’re already a Last.FM subscriber this could be a killer feature. If you haven’t yet shelled out for a membership, you can claim a 30-day free trial with the Stream 205.
For such a small device, its sound quality is unsurprisingly average. The two 3W speakers aren’t going to blow your eardrums, even at close range, and at lower volumes there was a distinct lack of bass. At higher volumes we could spot a little sound distortion in the high end. The Stream 205 is best suited to quiet playback in a second room, rather than filling your lounge with sound.
If you’re looking for a powerful audio streamer for your hi-fi, the Stream 205 definitely won’t fit the bill, but it still has plenty of charm. Anyone that would like to take their music with them throughout the house or even into the garden will appreciate its portability. We can’t remember the last product we reviewed that took six D batteries, but the Stream 205 isn't stuck in the past. In fact, it’s a great portable internet radio that has the added bonus of being able to access your complete music library.