Sony XDR-S1 review: Sony XDR-S1

4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Plethora of buttons, few menus and a huge number of presets; remote control.

The Bad Slow Auto Tune; sluggish display response with text sometimes missing.

The Bottom Line The XDR-S1 has everything most users could want from a digital radio, as well as the FM/MW/LW option to keep DAB sceptics happy

8.3 Overall

The XDR-S1 is an interesting machine. Replete with every major radio band, Sony is obviously aiming to 'do digital radio' more comprehensively than any other manufacturer.

At £150 it has some stiff competition from the similarly priced Bug from PURE. While PURE's champion attracts with its outrageous looks, the XDR-S1 seems more the quietly confident type.

Design
Sony has perfected the art of sleak styling, and with the XDR-S1 they've created a good looking machine. It's a long, brushed metal speaker with a very neat tuck-away aerial and clearly marked silver buttons across the top..

Almost every feature has its own button. Alongside the usual controls for Power, Volume and Station there are Sleep, Timer, Standby, EQ, Auto Tune, Noise Reduction, and Mega Bass buttons. This fortunately doesn't clutter up the XDR-S1, and means less fiddling around with menus.

The screen is a two-line blue LCD. On each side of the text there's plenty of room for icons to show when the features like Noise Reduction and Mega Bass are on, but noticeably there are no permanent graphics to show essentials like signal strength.

When the power is off the screen shows the time almost as an afterthought, tucked away to the side. If you wake up and want to know the time there's no button to turn on the backlight.

The back is devoted to the power lead, a line-in/out and a digital-out, while the side has a neatly hidden headphone output.

Setup
When switching on the XDR-S1 for the first time we were asked to press the Auto Tune button. It took a full three minutes after we did so to find all the channels. It's annoying that if you leave it unplugged for more than five minutes you have to do it all again, including setting the clock and the presets.

With tuning out of the way, using the XDR-S1 was easy as most of the functions have their own dedicated buttons. The few exceptions are setting up the clock and options such as backlighting and contrast for the screen.

The presets were easy to store by holding down the Station button. There are ten for every radio band giving a total of 40.

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