Denon CEOL Noir
One of the few networkable mini hi-fis, this is a black-clad version of Denon's feature-packed CEOL system. The RCD-N7 unit is available solo for under £400 or bundled with SC-N7 speakers. Connections include binding post/screw terminals, Belling-Lee FM/DAB antenna socket, USB, optical digital input and a top-mounted iPod dock. Its biggest selling point is built-in Wi-Fi (or alternative Ethernet port) for internet radio, Napster, LastFM, network music streaming and AirPlay (specifically for streaming from computers running iTunes or Apple hardware such as iPhones and iPads). Power output is 2 x 65W and it seals its audiophile credentials by also being FLAC compatible for 96kHz/24-bit playback. It's glossy to look at and gorgeous to listen to.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Denon
Onkyo Colibrino CS-245DAB
This entry level package comes with a pair of DT05 speakers, which are excellent for their compact size and price. Its CD performance sensibly manages the amount of bass, and the system has a broad response across higher frequencies. The DAB tuner is not as sensitive as some but it’s good to see an F-type connector for a rooftop aerial, if needed. There’s a built-in iPod dock and though the USB port is just for MP3 files, it does a very impressive job with them. Power output is 2 x 15W. So, while it’s not over adorned with features, it concentrates on providing amazing audio quality for the money.
Reg Rating 85%
More info Onkyo
Next page: Panasonic SC-HC35DB
@Hitmouse "cheap car stereo..."
Here's a suggestion: buy/build a 240-12v transformer and box for your car stereo: buy and connect your chosen speakers (car power amp optional) and you're done. Do need to have a car steroe with 'traditional' fixed front panel rather than the 'remote' display common in today's manf fitted models.
With all the 'custom' cases around for PC's - box for the radio/media player shouldn't be a problem.
Not a new idea I grant you - I did this >28yrs ago for university to end up with v compact radio/tape player. That was years before compact hi-fi systems were available for the budget user
Uncontrolled audio quality comparison tests which are not performed using "blind testing" techniques are next to worthless. The whole area of audiophilia is riven with mumbo-jumbo, meaningless and undefined terms and snake oil salesman.
you have missed the point...
why the F should he have to purchase an iPod dock and iPod? he has perfectly functional SD cards and USB sticks...
If I see a product with an iPod dock on it, then I'll give it a miss as part of the price of the product is payment to Apple for the license to include said poncey iPod dock...
I've researched most of these brands and more, and yet know one does a desktop system that you can stick a USB stick/SD card in full of podcasts and listen to them while you work.
The let-downs for them are that they:
1. don't remember last position if the machine is turned off, or power is otherwise lost
2. have no FF/RW within tracks, which you need for tracks that are 30-60 minutes long
3. tiny buttons or so vertically unstable that you have to hold them to operate them
4. No display to show track information
My cheap car stereo lets me do this, but honestly it seems there's nothing for the home that I can just toggle on and off when I walk into the kitchen. I don't want to have to plug in an iPod as that introduces more layers of complexity.
Hitmouse is talking sense
I sympathise. For some reason, the industry does not want to make anything which allows flexible playback of your mp3 library on your hi-fi. The best you can do currently is buy a cheap mp3 player and attach it with a cable, as I do. It would be trivially easy for the manufacturers to make a good USB interface, or build mp3 storage into a receive unit, or even to make a seperate unit, but the nearest you will get to that is the Brennan.
There are products like squeezebox, but these introduce many layers of complexity, and want to involve your network, pc,TV, nas and other ecosystems.