Philips AJB3552/05 review: Philips AJB3552/05

Typical Price: £60.00
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Simple controls; large display; good looks.

The Bad Sound quality could be better.

The Bottom Line Despite an uninspiring speaker, the Philips AJB3552/05 is among the best bedside radios we've come across, thanks to its large display, straightforward design, and super-strong DAB and FM tuners.

7.5 Overall

At around £60, the Philips AJB3552/05 digital-radio alarm clock isn't cheap, but its rock-solid tuners and smart looks do go some way to justifying the price. Some clever design considerations also show that Philips has spent at least as long thinking about form as it has function, making for one of the best bedside radios you can buy.

Set-up

Plug the radio in and you're ready to go. There's no real set-up to speak of, as the AJB3552/05 takes the time from the DAB multiplex the first time you switch it on. At that point it also performs an initial scan, as a result of which it identified an impressive range of stations in our test area, despite the fact that the aerial is nothing more than a feeble wire dangling from the back of the body. Indeed, in our tests it could hold its own against more expensive desktop sets with extendable aerials on both DAB and FM.

You can auto scan on both bands and, if you find that the AJB3552/05 is pausing too often on FM, you can adjust the tuner's sensitivity so that it only stops on the strongest stations. There's a 'prune' feature for DAB that removes any stations you can't actually pick up in your area, which, as anyone who lives outside of a city centre will know, is a boon.

Controls

With 40 presets split equally between FM and DAB, there's no reason why you should need to fiddle too much with the controls once you've set the radio up. There's no way to access the presets directly, though, as there are no numbered buttons, so instead you have to click back and forth through the stored list until you find the one you want. This makes the presets feature more of a means to filter out the stations you don't want than to store the ones you do, as the modus operandi is effectively the same as that for navigating the regular stations list.

This point aside, it's clear that Philips' designers had bleary-eyed bed-bound users in mind when sketching out this radio's controls. The snooze button -- here called 'repeat alarm' -- is an easily tapped bar on the top of the case, as you'd expect, but the other controls that you'll need to access most often have been clustered on the front, rather than the top, so you can see them easily from bed.

Philips AJB3552/05 front
You'll have no trouble discerning the time on the large screen, even after waking from the deepest of slumbers.

The volume and tuner dials double as the controls for setting the time, with a three-way knob above them switching between the clock, alarm-set and time-set features. There's a neat alarm wizard that lets you set up some defaults, including the days on which the alarm should operate -- daily, weekends, weekdays or just once on a specific date and month that you set -- and how long you want it to play for, from 15 to 60 minutes.

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