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ROBERTS MP43 DAB Clock Radio with iPod Dock and CD Player

November 15, 2010

This review is somewhat over due, given that I’ve now owned the Roberts MP43 for more than 3 years. Its not regularly used, but it is certainly used on occasion and I wish I could make more use of it.

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/roberts-mp43-dab-clock-radio-with-ipod-dock-and-cd-player-01566446-pdt.html

Sound Quality

Chuffing Excellent! That’s all you need to know. All round pitch is very good and the volume goes plenty loud enough to fill the room its placed in, and the neighbouring room.

Given that sound quality is the most important factor in a device like this, I can heartily recommend it. It has its niggles, which I will get around to, but overall it’s a good product that is well built and produces excellent quality sound from all sources.

Control Panel

The control panel buttons are not actually buttons, they are touch sensitive regions on the panel and they are a frustration to use. They require a simple, gentle touch. Press them too hard and they don’t operate. Regularly a second touch is required to get a response. Its so hit and miss that I normally use the remote to control the unit. On the subject of buttons, there are two buttons for media input, one for selecting DAB and auxiliary inputs and one for selecting iPod and CD inputs. There is no logical sense to this at all, one button to cycle through the media inputs is all that’s required, splitting this into two buttons must be the daftest design decision I have ever seen. Such a shame coming from a respected brand as well.

iPod Control

Controlling the iPod is easy, there are buttons to mirror the iPod functions and they are all very straight forward to use. The problems arise in the connection between the iPod and the device. The device does not mirror the iPod display so you must look at the iPod to see what you are selecting. This is okay if you are standing directly in front of the device, but not if you are 6ft away and unable to read the iPod screen. Scrolling through a long list of tracks to find your chosen music also reveals that the iPod auto dimming remains on while plugged into the device. So you must release the scroll button and press again to get the screen to brighten once more.

The net result is that its often easier to select your chosen music directly on the iPod.

iPod Battery

The device is supposed to charge the iPod while in place but there have been a few occasions when the iPod has seemingly drained out. I think its because the iPod will not be charged when another media source is selected and the iPod is still in the dock. This sounds reasonable, but something is causing the iPod to drain low. Its most noticeable when the iPod has been sitting in the dock for long extended periods and not been used. Think several weeks, or even months.

iPod Oddities

At the time of buying, the device was stated to be compatible with newer iPods. My 1st generation iPod Nano was not listed as compatible. However, I tried it, and it does play and control my older iPod Nano. Though, I have had the Nano freeze a couple of times when operating it manually in the dock. Not a huge problem as its easy to rectify.

More of a problem is that my iPod Classic, which is compatible has also suffered the same crash, but on far fewer occasions. I think the problem muct be with operating the iPod while its in the dock. Either remove the iPod to control it and re seat, or operate with the remote.

DAB

I’ve had questionable reception issues using DAB on my device so it does not get used as much as I would like it to be. I am pretty certain that it’s the location I have the device at home rather than any specific fault. The reception issues got a whole lot worse when the window sill it was sitting on got removed and a conservatory built. Now there is an extra obstruction in the way, reception is worse, so I don’t really think I can blame this issue on Roberts at all. Maybe when I move house I’ll be able to locate it where it will get good DAB reception and I can enjoy radio again.

Phantom Operation

There have been a few occasions where the device display goes into a set-up mode when not being used. Its been a regular occurrence during my ownership and its always the same operation. It does not appear to affect play back so I have ignored the occurrences, I just tend to switch the device back to standby again when I notice it.

I think it’s a feature of the glass roof on my conservatory filtering sunlight and the infra red rays hitting the remote control receiver on the device. I can’t think of a more logical explanation, but equally I haven’t tested it. It would be a simple test to put a bit of sticky tape over the receiver and see what happens, but as its not actually causing a problem I’ve not bothered. Likewise though, it would be nice if a respected brand like Roberts actually tested for something like this and changed their remote response frequencies to compensate.

Summary

This is not a perfect product, it has a few flaws and frustrations. However, none of these are especially show stoppers and it excels at what its good at, to the point where I still happily use it and would equally happily recommend it.

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  1. Roberts MP43 Update « A limey's ramblings

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