It lags behind Sony a little but its punchy, slightly treble-heavy delivery is definitely the equal of the iPod’s, especially if you ditch the shoddy bundled headphones.
Storage is relatively limited – one, two or four gigabytes – but not catastrophic considering the B20’s dimensions. There’s even a miniSD slot if you fancy supplementing it.
And you’ll need to once you check out the video. The 2.4in screen is hardly capacious but it’s excellent – really crisp and bright with smooth 30fps video playback. Not one for whole movies, perhaps, but perfect for YouTube clips and music videos.
But the main event for the B20 is radio. As well as receiving DAB broadcasts it provides the whole digital radio experience: EPG, live programme info and digital recording. Reception is excellent but comes at a cost: this is the only pocket DAB radio we’ve seen that uses a standard telescopic aerial. We were somewhat gobsmacked by this – thin telescopic aerial + pockets = bad idea. Perhaps it’s necessary for DMB TV (which has still only been trialled in the UK and we couldn’t use). In any case, we tried to get reception through headphones with the aerial down and the B20 was having none of it. Aerial had to go up and B20 had to be confined to the satchel for fear of a snapping incident.
Other neat touches help the B20 claw back a little ground. The overall user experience – from Windows Media Player and Mac drag-and-drop compatibility to the ‘buttonless’ D-click interface (which uses rocking microswitches at the edges of the screen) – is fantastic. Also, the built-in Flash games provide an absorbing distraction on dull commutes.