Boston Acoustics Horizon Solo review: Boston Acoustics Horizon Solo

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MSRP: $149.95

The Good The Boston Acoustics Horizon Solo AM/FM clock radio has robust build quality; display spins for vertical or horizontal orientation; easy access to unique snooze bar; interchangeable color grilles available; great sound quality.

The Bad No dedicated iPod dock; AC-only operation means no battery or charging option; rubberized finish attracts fingerprints and smudges.

The Bottom Line The Boston Acoustics Horizon Solo is a heavy-duty clock radio, but its bare-bones feature set will have shoppers trading up to the iPod-enabled step-up model.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7

One of our favorite tabletop radios in recent years was the Boston Acoustics Recepter, which combined straightforward design with great sound. Flash forward a few years, and the Recepter's replacement is finally here. The Horizon Solo is the smallest of the three tabletop models in Boston's line. All three models make use of the Personal Options Plan, which means they can utilize one of nine interchangeable grilles--available separately--with colors ranging from chili pepper red to olive green. If that's not enough, the Solo can sit horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. The radio retains the Recepter's $100 asking price.

The Horizon Solo is 5 inches tall by 8 inches wide by 6 inches deep when oriented horizontally, but you can flip it on its side to fit into the tight spaces of a nightstand or kitchen counter; and the circular control panel can rotate accordingly, so the knobs and LCD screen are always level. The design is a model of simplicity: just three knobs (mode, volume, and tuning) and two buttons to toggle the dual alarms. The snooze bar, meanwhile, is disguised as the silver trim that frames the front speaker grille. Just tap it anywhere to buy yourself 10 more minutes in the morning--a nice solution for groggy wake-ups.

Knob-based controls are always preferable to a sea of tiny buttons, and the Solo's rubberized controls have a nice, tactile feel. All three knobs can be depressed to access additional functions, such as toggling the radio band, setting presets, and powering on and off. The blue backlit LCD is one of the most clear and legible screens we've seen in a long time--it can be manually set to 20 levels of brightness, and automatically dims as the room darkens.

The features list is pretty bare-bones--this is, after all, just a clock radio, albeit one that's intended for the higher end of the shopping scale. The radio receives standard AM and FM broadcasts--but don't look for digital HD Radio reception or RDS text support (song and artist info). There's no iPod dock, but the 3.5mm auxiliary input lets you connect an Apple music player--or anything else with a headphone jack. The dual alarms can be set to wake to the radio (the last station played), an alarm tone, or a combination of both. Up to 20 station presets are available, and you can mix and match AM and FM choices to your heart's content. The sleep timer can be set in five-minute intervals up to 90 minutes.

In addition to the auxiliary input, the only jacks on the rear panel are the power connector and AM and FM antenna inputs. An FM wire antenna is included, and you pretty much need it attached to receive any stations whatsoever. A stereo headphone jack is on the radio's front face. There's no remote control--though that's not a big deal for this sort of product.

The Solo is available in midnight (gray) and mist (white), and--if you're looking for a color change--you can purchase one of 9 snap-on "Personal Options Plan" faceplates for about $15 each. The one thing we didn't like about the body (sides and rear) of the Solo was that the rubberized plastic was a magnet for fingerprints, smudges, and dust--a matte finish would've been an improvement.

Smudges and fingerprints show up easily on the rubberized housing.

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