Editors' note: As of June 2008, Cambridge has lowered the price of this product.
Remember when clock radios were merely clock radios? That was long before the iPod-ization trend took the world by storm. Outboard docks are yesterday's news and integrated docks have become de rigueur. Witness the new Cambridge SoundWorks i765 with an iPod/iPhone dock molded into its top panel. The i765 is the latest and greatest entry from Cambridge's well-regarded line of stereo clock tabletop radios. The new model also boasts a slot-loading CD/DVD player, so it functions like a self-contained home theater in a box.
The conservatively styled gray and black radio has a sturdy and solid feel and is 5 inches tall by 14 inches wide by 10 inches deep and weighs 13 pounds. Except for the Snooze/Mute button and iPod dock on the otherwise bare topside, all of the i765's controls are located on its front panel. CDs and DVDs load through a slot just above the large, 32-character LCD readout that sits above two clusters of eight buttons. The buttons are tiny, identical size, and shaped so that they're hard to see in low light. The display is linked to a light sensor that dims to eliminate glare in dark rooms. The centered knob controls volume by default, but clicking the nearby jog key, the knob toggles through a variety of other functions including bass, treble, and loudness tone controls. The loudness circuit boosted bass at low to moderate listening volume to create a rich, warm sound balance.
The newly designed remote has 43 identically sized little round buttons and they're color-coded by function--iPod controls are gray, DVD controls are brown, alarm buttons are blue, and so forth. The overall layout is less than intuitive, but we were grateful that we could always find the volume up/down buttons in the upper-left corner. It should be noted that all of the front-panel jog functions are also accessible from the remote.
If the i765 looks familiar, it's because it's basically just a refresh of the Cambridge SoundWorks Radio CD 745i with the iPod dock integrated into the topside (instead of a separate outboard dock) and a built-in DVD player (instead of just CD). The front panel's left set of buttons are reserved for radio presets--press one while listening to a station you want to store, you'll hear a "beep" tone, and it'll be saved to one of three "bands" (FM1, FM2, or AM). The right set of buttons offers a choice of source--Radio, iPod, Disc/Aux, as well as up/down radio tuning. There's also a seek function for jumping from station to station. The tuner supports Radio Data Service, so the readout offers call-letter and song information from stations that support the technology. The lower edge of the front panel hosts a headphone jack and an auxiliary input (both jacks are 3.5mm jacks). The back panel has an S-Video and audio output jack, and the i765 comes with an S-Video-to-composite cable.
Alarm setting options are flexible: Each of the two alarms can be set to wake to tone, AM/FM radio, CD, or iPod. You can preset the volume of each alarm, so it can be as loud or subtle as you want, regardless of what the volume level was when you turned the i765 off. Snooze times can be preset to intervals of 5 to 22 minutes.
To pull in harder-to-receive radio stations, you'll need to attach the included external AM (1/8-inch) and FM (RF screw-type) antennas to the i765's rear panel.