Sunday, November 15, 2009

TEAC HD-1 HD radio / clock / iPod stereo

I picked one of these up at Costco yesterday for $99. It is a somewhat chunky block that sits on your nightstand. It has an iPod/iPhone port on the top with various adaptors for the various shapes of iPods and iPhones, and will do HD (digital) AM and FM also.

On the back there are the following ports: FM antenna, AM antenna, AUX in, AUX out, headphones, and video out. I guess the video out is if you're playing videos on your iPod, otherwise it makes no sense. Also included is a chunky remote that is ridiculously large by today's standards.

The first thing I tested was the iPod functionality. When I'm in my bedroom reading in bed I like to have some music to accompany me, and given the lackluster offerings on commercial radio today, my iPhone is the main way to get that. The problem is that I find headphones to be confining, thus the reason for this small clock radio / stereo. I plugged everything in, hung up the antennas on the wall between my bedroom and my living room, and plugged in my iPhone. When I plugged the iPhone in, it automatically switched into iPod mode. I could then use the iPhone's iPod controls to select the song to play and start playing it. The channel forward/back buttons on the remote (and on the radio itself) also served to go forward and back between songs once I had the iPod started on a playlist.

The next thing I checked out was the Internet radio functionality. I stopped the iPod on the iPhone's touchscreen, pushed the Home button, and selected Pandora. Pandora immediately started streaming out of the stereo's speakers. Cool!

Then I started testing the radio part. At first I thought the radio was incredibly insensitive. I live in a very crowded-spectrum area, the San Francisco Bay area, where pretty much any possible frequency has a radio station on it. Then I moved the radio to the other nightstand -- the one against the wall -- and strung the FM dipole antenna in the corner with one leg against the outside wall and one leg on the inside wall. SUCCESS! I could then pick up all the San Jose radio stations and many of the San Francisco radio stations.

How does the HD radio sound? Well, ordinary FM sounds somewhat muffled by comparison. The boast is that HD FM radio sounds "better than CDROM". I don't know about that, but I do know it sounds much brighter and much more detailed than regular FM radio. The HD FM stations also typically have a second HD subchannel that plays something similar to the main HD channel but with more obscure songs or a slightly different (usually "harder") format.

So what's the downsides? First, there is no number pad on the remote. The remote is gigantic -- certainly large enough for a number pad -- but you cannot directly enter a frequency or present number. The only way to select a frequency is to press the 'up' or 'down' button on the remote, or scroll the wheel on the radio, or select a preset. The FM radio has 20 presets, but the only way to cycle through them is from 1 thru 20 (i.e., forward order) by hitting the 'preset' button. Which also brings up the issue that you can only go *forward* through the presets, not *backward*. So if you want to listen to preset 9 and you're currently listening to preset 10, the only way to get to preset 9 is to press that blasted 'preset' button 20 times. In other words, navigating in radio mode is pretty limited.

Secondly, the alarm/clock function doesn't really work that well. It's an LCD, and thus is not visible at night without the backlight turned on. But the dimmest setting of the backlight is still way too bright at night, bright enough to serve as a nightlight. While the alarm is *very* loud (you can adjust the volume), the 'snooze' function only gives you 6 minutes, not the 9 minutes typical of older clock radios. 6 minutes isn't much of a 'snooze'. Still, it works well enough to not warrant keeping a second alarm clock handy.

Am I satisfied with the radio? Yes. It does what I wanted it to do -- play music from my iPod/iPhone with reasonable fidelity while I'm relaxing in bed. The HD radio stuff, despite the navigational difficulties caused by the poor user interface, are a pleasant plus. I do wish the clock had a lower backlighting setting so it wasn't so bleepin' bright at night, and that the snooze button would wait for 9 minutes rather than 6 minutes, but (shrug). It's $99. I guess to make a gadget that does so much sell for so cheap, some shortcuts are inevitable.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.