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LG's latest CD micro system is the FA163DAB -- catchy, huh? -- and with it comes DAB radio and iPod docking functionality. There aren't a million iPod-compatible DAB systems in the world, and even fewer that conform to this form factor. Plus, the FA163DAB costs less than £200.
This is an unusual-looking micro system. Firstly, it's got an enormous Clickwheel-esque control system stuck on the front of the main unit that uses touch-sensitive controls to play, pause and skip tracks. Also, the self-loading CD player is located on top, loading vertically.
Then there are the speakers. Both feature a pair of mid-range woofers and a silk dome tweeter, in addition massive sub-woofers in one side of each enclosure, delivering a three-way 2.1 sound system.
It's impossible to review objectively how good something looks, and our subjective opinions were divided. One of us liked the design considering its low price, one of us thought it just looked cheap, and PC editor Rory Reid liked it but claimed it was "budget trying to look premium."
Construction is probably the most questionable aspect -- the main unit is too lightweight, mounted on unusually soft rubber feet, and housed in a bendy plastic enclosure. Corners were clearly cut here to keep pricing low, and one result is that the touch-sensitive control wheel requires awkward circular finger gestures to adjust volume, and it's just unresponsive enough to be annoying. The speakers, conversely, are solid and don't bend. We wish the main unit had been given the same attention.
Apple iPods are docked on top, with the dock hidden under a plastic flap when not in use. And under another flap on the front is more connectivity: headphones, line-in and USB for playback of MP3s. Thankfully the dot matrix display is clear, with large lettering and little clutter, but it's another budget-conscious effort that we're not overly excited about.
Aside from iPod compatibility, which, incidentally, can be controlled using the system's bundled remote control, the FA163DAB provides playback of regular audio CDs, MP3/WMA CDs, MP3/WMA files from USB, and of course DAB. In fact it even comes bundled with some impressive aerials for DAB and FM -- not something we see often.
This content is pumped through the aforementioned speakers, each delivering 80W of power and each tweaked by high-end hi-fi maker Mark Levinson. We'll discuss this more shortly.