Sangean HDR-1 review: Sangean HDR-1

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CNET Editors' Rating

2.5 stars OK
  • Overall: 5.3
  • Design: 4.0
  • Features: 5.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:

The Good AM/FM/HD tabletop radio with attractive retro design and a real wood finish; auxiliary line-in jack for connection to any iPod or portable device; RDS text support; clock, dual alarm, and sleep mode; includes EQ, bass, and treble controls; 20 station presets.

The Bad Neither of the control options--the single control knob nor the credit card remote--are particularly easy to use; no CD or satellite radio support; the quality, availability, and reliability of HD Radio stations can vary widely.

The Bottom Line The Sangean HDR-1 is a capable tabletop HD Radio, but its lackluster controls and dearth of extras leave only its retro wood styling to distinguish it from the competition.

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Editors' Note: The rating on this review has been lowered from due to changes in the competitive marketplace.

HD Radio is the new digital broadcasting standard that has been available in the U.S. for the past several years. While the HD stations are just static-free duplicates of the FM (and some AM) ones you already listen to, the format also offers HD2 (multicast) stations in many markets--digital-only substations that you can't receive on analog radios. Compatible hardware has been slow in coming to market, but 2007 saw HD Radio being included in more products--and the price for standalone HD Radios finally dipping below $200. The Sangean HDR-1 falls into the latter group, and competes directly with similar tabletop HD Radio models from Boston Acoustics, Cambridge SoundWorks, and Sony.

Most of the aforementioned radios are extremely similar, so choosing between them often comes down to a matter of personal taste. With its real wood enclosure and a plastic-louvered speaker grille, the Sangean is perhaps the most genuinely "retro" looking unit of the bunch. If not for the center-mounted LCD readout, you would swear it was straight out of the 1950s--we half expected to hear Red Barber calling a Brooklyn Dodgers game when we powered it up. Dimensions are about standard for a tabletop model: 4.5 inches tall by 11.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep, and the wood casing gives the unit a nice heft.

We didn't care for the HDR-1's do-it-all control knob.

Controls are limited to a single knob located just below the LCD. It adjusts volume by default, but clicking it brings up a list of other options on the LCD screen, which are further navigated by clicks and spins. That works great on an iPod, of course, but the Sangean HDR-1 doesn't come close to that legendary Apple ease of use. After some trial and error, you'll eventually get the hang of it, but we often opted to use the 24-button credit card-style remote instead.

And the remote wasn't much of an improvement.

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Where to Buy

Sangean HDR-1

Part Number: HDR-1 Released: Feb 15, 2007

MSRP: $249.95

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb 15, 2007
  • Built-in Display LCD
  • Weight 6.6 lbs
  • Tuner Bands AM/FM
  • Type 1 year warranty
  • Type portable radio