Mar. 4th, 2010

kingandy: (Muzak)
Not sure if I mentioned this: I bought a new stereo just after Christmas. It was good, excellent sound quality and a familiar brand (a Hitachi AXM136i), so I was confident that it would be fine despite it being a Curry/Dixon/PCWorld exclusive. (I think the "exclusive" part was the packaged iPod dock.) Also it was on sale, about 2/3 normal price, so win.

Within a month it developed a fault (overnight becoming unresponsive to controls, requiring unplug/replug to resolve - inconvenient at the best of times, and at worst rendering the alarm function useless). Took it back and got an identical replacement - and within a month it developed an identical fault.

Naturally, with the second replacement, I decided to go for a different model. I mean, I don't know if it's a general fault with the line or just with that Curry's batch, but I just didn't feel like risking it again. I went for a Sony, and wow, it's so much better, even though it's around the same retail price as the Hitachi's reduced sale price. Quick comparison of key points:

 Hitachi AXM136iSony CMT-BX70
iPod dockPlug in thing on extension leadBuilt into unit
Standby lightBright blue LED which lights up whole roomSoft unobtrusive red LED
While playing CDAnother, brighter blue light lights up the whole room even moreIt just plays it
Alarm functionTurns unit on, using whatever function happens to be selected when it was turned offAllows function to be selected when setting alarm, so you can go to bed listening to iPod and wake up to radio
After checking time with unit on standbyDisplay remains on, but at least the blue light goes awayDisplay switches off after 8 seconds
Remote sensitivityYou have to point it right at the unitVague approximation of direction will do
Station name displayBBC RADIBBC R2

It's, you know, little things like that; tiny points of usability that make the Hitachi unit basically unsuitable for use as a bedroom stereo and unsatisfying in general. Even without the Halt Until Reboot bug I was finding it fiddly and not 100% satisfying - the Sony's much better off the bat. I think there's a slight loss in sound quality (the Hitachi was 100W, the Sony is closer to 50) but it's not noticeable and certainly worth the £60 saving.

Oh - one flaw with the Sony - it doesn't come with a DAB antenna included. This isn't as big a problem as it might seem, though, as the internal one seems to work quite well, but I was still glad I had one lying about the place from an older unit.

March 2012

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