The REVO Domino D3 is a digital, internet and FM radio, network music player, iPod dock, and last.fm receiver all in one. I put it through its paces in a notoriously-bad-for-reception suburb in inner Melbourne.
I’ve never really understood the appeal of these little all-in-one systems that seem to offer everything but the kitchen sink, yet only have a single speaker the size of a plug. But I do spend most of my time in front of a computer that is pretty much unbeatable in its ability to deliver what I want to hear when I want to hear it. I sometimes forget that’s not the case for everybody. Perhaps this is exactly what they want?
The REVO Domino D3 is undoubtedly a great unit. Packed into a little black rounded brick about the size of a loaf of bread, it boasts DAB+ (the Australian standard for digital) radio, iPod and iPhone connectivity, internet radio (with podcast accessibility), streaming audio from a Mac (via a UPnP server application – more on that later), last.fm streaming, and good old FM and AUX input. And despite its size, it sounds pretty good.
The D3 has a slightly rubberised surface that just makes you want to touch it. Add that to the retro-curvy design and silver dials, and you’ve got a radio that you’d be proud to display on a shelf, bench or bedside table. There’s a clear and simple OLED display, but it feels very cramped when you’re trying to enter text, scrolling through the alphabet via the arrow buttons on the remote or the joystick on the unit itself.
Despite some poor reception in my apartment, I managed to find a spot where the D3 picks up all the major radio stations. They sound great, there’s no doubt about that – if you haven’t tried digital radio, there is a significant gain to be had over FM (though there are a few analogue die-hards out there that will undoubtedly disagree). To me, it’s akin to the difference between CD and cassette. But it’s an all-or-nothing signal, so be warned that with varied reception will come marked differences in usefulness.
For FM reception, the D3 tunes in 0.05MHz steps, which is great to find a good signal, but a pain to scroll between stations. Of course, you can program your own presets, so it’s not a huge issue. And the DAB+ sounded far clearer for most stations, so FM is almost unnecessary for me.
The sound quality for radio was good – the single speaker sounds extremely crisp at both very low and high volumes, especially when listening to DAB. There was slight distortion at full volume, but the unit is easily powerful enough to fill a bedroom or study – just don’t expect it to annoy the neighbours.
What sound system doesn’t have an iPod dock these days? Convenience of such integration varies – but I pleasantly found it works well on the D3. Plugging in an iPod/iPhone brings up the option to switch to iPod mode, and whether you choose to listen or not, the iPod (iPhone too!) will begin charging. You can change tracks via the iPod itself, or use the remote. But I prefer using my iPhone’s touchscreen. The D3 does iPod integration as well as anything can – though if that’s the reason you’re buying it, there will be cheaper models with similar abilities.
After I figured out that my modem had a button to press for connecting non-computer devices, I got internet radio set up easily. It’s worth checking out the manual for this, and it helps to know what sort of wireless security you have. (I connected by the push-button functionality of WPS – but you may need to key in a password, which is do-able, but fiddly with the remote or joystick.) There is no wired option, so those without a Wi-Fi network won’t be able to listen to online content.
The internet radio stations are all preset, and there are hundreds. You can set up your own favourites, or browse to local stations. There is also access to radio stations’ podcasts – brilliant for listening to some quality radio from the BBC. But the small screen and fiddly controls really mean it’s much easier to listen to this sort of stuff through iTunes on your Mac.
I honestly just can’t get either of these features to work. I haven’t used last.fm before, so I had to sign up online, which was relatively painless. And then I went through the rigmarole of entering all the details on the D3. After all that, I get an ‘Available to subscribers only’ message. Apparently I have to fork out some hard-earned to listen to anything. Either I’m dense, or it didn’t make that fact very clear on the website. So that means no last.fm for me.
To use the Music Player, you need to set up a UPnP server application on your Mac. I tried setting up Elgato EyeConnect (as was recommended in the D3 manual), but couldn’t get it working. This might be a minor issue, but it’s frustrating when devices like this don’t ‘just work’, as is the case for something like the Apple TV for streaming iTunes music.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
I would assume that these type of units appeal to mums and dads and grandmas (I know my mum has something similar), and I thought that would mean they’re relatively user-friendly. DAB+, FM and iPod settings were a breeze to get going, but beyond that the device is a bit fiddly for my liking.
If you’re looking for just DAB+, or just iPod integration, or just internet radio, there are likely many cheaper options available that will do the job just as well. The D3 is, however, a good all-rounder. If you have the time and ability to invest in getting it set up, it will pay off. But I’m going to stick with my Mac for internet radio, and wait til digital reception is a little bit better at in my area.