Classic radio looks with a thoroughly modern mindset

The i-box Century masquerades as a vintage Roberts but can also work as an Alexa-powered speaker and daisychain into a multiroom sound system

i-box Century, £129.99
i-box Century, £129.99 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

This retro-style radio from i-box, based in Bedford, draws on the classic looks and solid audio performance of an old-style Roberts radio and adds modern functionality – hence its description as a “classic smart speaker with Amazon Alexa”. It’s quirky, original and works well. The i-box Century could just be used to play Radio 4 all day like a vintage Roberts. But you can also use it as an Alexa-powered smartspeaker to answer questions and turn on all the smart home devices you will never want. You can even connect up to eight i-boxes to form a multiroom system. Again, in defiance of its 1950s look, it will work with Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music and internet radio.

Functionality is clever but a bit forbidding, and the thin manual not much help as it’s so poorly done. Also, while it appears to be portable, it has to be mains connected. Yet there’s something charming about the Century that I warmed to. It’s not just an Amazon Echo in a retro box – it sounds better than Echo, and while you can daisychain the Amazon product as a multiroom system, you might find a house full of Centurys more stylish. If it were portable, the Century would be a king among gadgets. As it is, it’s a prince, with a dash of frog.

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