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 AXM136i||Sony CMT-BX70|
|iPod dock||Plug in thing on extension lead||Built into unit|
|Standby light||Bright blue LED which lights up whole room||Soft unobtrusive red LED|
|While playing CD||Another, brighter blue light lights up the whole room even more||It just plays it|
|Alarm function||Turns unit on, using whatever function happens to be selected when it was turned off||Allows 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 standby||Display remains on, but at least the blue light goes away||Display switches off after 8 seconds|
|Remote sensitivity||You have to point it right at the unit||Vague approximation of direction will do|
|Station name display||BBC RADI||BBC 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.