Tivoli Pal BT Review: A Colorful Radio

Tivoli Pal BT Review: A Colorful Radio

I don’t even like pink, but here I am with pink lights on my desk and PC lights to match. Can I blame Barbie for this? No. For that, I can point to the little radio on my desk: the Tivoli Pal BT.

I’m no stranger to radios. The Tivoli Pal is just one of many I’ve tested for WIRED. In a time where I could just ask the smart speaker that is quite literally next to this radio for a song I want, there’s a certain novelty to turning on my favorite station and hoping a song I like comes on. I like otherwise zoning out as I work on my next story—until the commercials come on and give me an excuse to go find something to drink or take the stand-up break my Apple Watch is begging me for.

This radio isn’t cheap, and I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did; I’ve tried cheaper radios with sound quality that’s just as good. Still, the combination of its portability, small size, and powerful speaker ended up making it one of the most useful radios I’ve tried. Don’t worry, pink isn’t the only color it comes in, and it works great in any of them.

Best of Both Worlds

The Tivoli Pal BT looks like a modern tabletop radio. Its vertical design begs to be placed on a bookshelf or console table. It reminds me of the larger (and cheaper) Sangean WR-15 ($90). It isn’t locked onto any tabletop, though, thanks to its battery-powered design.

That’s a great thing, because you won’t have to worry about where you’d like to place the radio and if it’s close enough for a power outlet—or the best radio signal in the house. I like having mine on the corner of my desk when I’m not using it, but I usually pull it forward about a foot to get a better radio signal when I’m listening to music. It’s normal given how radio signals work that homes will have better and worse spots for reception, and it can be frustrating with wired radios to try to nail the Venn diagram of power source, optimal signal, and where you have space for it.

The Pal BT’s portable design alleviates that pressure, allowing you to move the radio wherever you like while you listen and stash it in another spot when you’re done. It’s nice and small too (it’s only 3.6 inches deep), so I found it easy to add to my desk or bookshelf without hogging too much space. You’ll just need to be ready to recharge it after about 12 hours of listening, but depending on how much radio jamming you’re doing, that could last you a while.

This colorful little radio can also double as a Bluetooth speaker—switch to the BT option on the dial, and click the pairing button on the back to pair it the first time you do it. It can also serve as a wired speaker if you have an RCA cable on hand.

Inside, Outside

Photograph: Tivoli Audio

Remember how the Pal BT reminds me of tabletop radios? It stands against the pack for another reason: It’s made to go outside.

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