Hands-on with Philips' DCM230: Premium but no Streamium

The Philips DCM230 is an all-in-one iPod-docking CD player and radio. It looks good and sounds okay for a £130 setup. Just one problem: it's actually £200

We previewed the Philips DCM230 back in July, along with a range of new iPod docks. We've now got one in the lab and we've had chance for a brief play.

Since we hadn't seen or heard anything about this model in almost half a year, we must excuse ourselves for being under the impression the RRP was £129. With this in mind, our first thought upon seeing and hearing the DCM230 was, "Not bad, but too expensive at £129." But we were soon to be shocked when checking the price: it actually costs £200.

This is one of the most overpriced iPod systems we've seen aimed at the general consumer. Griffin's Amplifi offers absolutely superb sound quality -- complete with a 2.1 audio setup -- for just £80. True, it doesn't have any of the DCM230's other features, such as an integrated CD player, a USB port, radio or even an LCD display. But decent sound quality is a vital prerequisite of an audio system, and for £200 this new Philips offering just doesn't cut it.

Visually however, we're not disappointed. The system has a refined, modern look and feel, with excellent build quality to match. Other features are less impressive, such as an LCD display matched by many scientific calculators, and playback of only MP3 and WMA CDs. Although USB devices are supported, there's no love shown for any protected content stored on them; just plain old MP3 and WMA again.

Where's WAV, OGG, lossless WMA, FLAC , AAC? For a system with such a high price tag, these added luxuries are vital, and their absence just rubs salt into a very stylish, but nonetheless gaping wound. There are also just four equaliser settings: rock, pop, jazz and classic. There's no option to turn the EQ off.

The inclusion of Philips' Streamium functionality -- wireless networking -- could've completely made up for the lacklustre sound quality and feature set. But it too is missing.

We'll have a full review for you very soon, but our first impressions obviously aren't great. In such a competitive market, a balance of price, sound quality and features is vital, and the DCM230 is greatly outweighed by its optimistic price tag. -Nate Lanxon

 

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