IME and O some of the Sony consumer electronic products tend to be overpriced, and this also includes computers and HDTVs.
That said, you might get more bang for the buck for your second choice below since it would keep more $ in your wallet. My only concern would be whether or not it has ample support for burned CDs should that need arise (*also see amazon customer review for the first one). If you only play store bought CDs and use your iPods/iPhones, you will likely be alright. FWIW, I've never been a fan of Philips or Panasonic all-in-one stereo systems, but you might want to not throw out the baby w/ the bathwater before seeing one in person and giving it a go through.
Regarding iPod connectivity, IME some of the newer models are sometimes incompatible with relatively new docking stations. This can really be hit or miss. You can help cover your potential losses and spare the headache by picking up a very simple Griffin adapter, which mitigates the pinout/voltage issue with some of the latest iPod devices made by Apple. It allows the newer devices to work with many if not all of the older electronics, in the sense that charging mode is supported. See here and read user reviews-
I'd also suggest you peruse AVS forum, as well as iPod Lounge for recommendations for stereo/docking systems for iPod/apple products. They often run across cool systems I have not yet heard of. Of course some of these may be available via Amazon on the cheap w/ free shipping .
I am going dizzy reading reviews and really would like some help with this as my husband shows no interest in electronics As for price, maybe within $500?
I am looking for:
* a shelf system/compact stereo(or a larger unit, perhaps, if that's the way to go
* quality sound
* must be powerful enough to be heard two rooms away
* base for my IPOD touch/nano
* CD player (with full control so I can choose the song order)
* FM radio would be nice, but it's not a must
I've narrowed it down to these, to give you an idea of what I'm looking for, but I'm open to ideas. There is a large price difference between the first one and the others - is it worth it?