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Cambridge SoundWorks unveils four new tabletop radios

Cambridge SoundWorks unveils four new tabletop radios

Cambridge SoundWorks has revealed four new tabletop radios, including the company's first model that receives HD Radio. Here's a round-up of the new products:

Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 745 ($400, October): This is an upgrade to the Radio CD 740, which received a CNET Editors' Choice when it was originally reviewed in December 2003. In addition to its AM and FM radio, the Radio CD 745 is the only new model with a built-in CD player (it can play standard audio CDs and home-burned MP3 CDs). The only apparent change from the 740 is the inclusion of an iPod dock; the 745's included remote control also controls the iPod navigation functions.

Cambridge SoundWorks Radio 735 ($300, October): For $100, the 735 loses the disc player found in its big brother, but it's otherwise identical. Similarly, this is an upgrade of the Radio 730, with the addition of an included iPod dock.

Cambridge SoundsWorks Radio 820HD ($300, November): The 820HD is a totally new product to Cambridge's line. Like the 735, the 820HD lacks a CD player, but it's the first Cambridge model to offer reception of digital HD Radio in addition to AM and FM. It will double as a clock radio.

Cambridge SoundWorks Radio 705 ($120, October): This retro radio looks to be Cambridge's answer to the Tivoli Model One. It trades in an LCD for a deliberately old-fashion look and feel, straight down to the large tuning dial.

There are some additional details that apply across the new line of products:

  • All of the above models will be available in black or white, with the possibility of additional colors for the Radio 705 appearing in the months ahead.
  • Each model has at least one free auxiliary (line-in) jack, so they can all double as a speaker for any portable music player. Moreover, control docks that offer compatibility with the Creative Zen line of portables will be available separately for the 735 and 745; they should provide remote control navigation of the Zens, just as the iPod docks do for compatible Apple portables.
  • The 730 and 740 will remain available in the short term, but Creative says that "may change" in the future.

We'll have hands-on reviews of the 745 and the 820HD as soon as they're available. In the meantime, our expectations of these newly announced products are high, but our impressions are mixed. The Radio CD 740 boasted better overall sound quality than that of the competition including Bose and Boston Acoustics when we tested it a few years ago (thus the EC award), so one would expect the nearly identical 735 and 745 to perform just as well. The inclusion of an iPod dock is a nice touch, but from a features perspective, the need for a separate HD Radio-capable model--the 820HD--seems like overkill to us. Why not just bundle HD reception into the 745 and 735 instead, or offer an all-inclusive model--the "755," say,--that did so as a step-up? Likewise, none of these new models are XM-ready or DVD-capable, as the $600 Polk Audio I-Sonic is.