Digital radio has been slowly creeping into our lives since its, and while we're yet to see car stereos or home theatre systems with DAB+ on-board, things are getting closer. Sony's CMTFX350I is one of the first mini hi-fis we've seen to include digital radio on-board, and is also one of the cheapest at AU$279.
With component tuners, or radios without an amp or speakers, costing AU$500 to AU$600 a piece surely this Sony can't be any good?
Design and features
Cheap mini systems don't usually win design awards, as they're often designed to offer high "bang for buck". While the CMTFX350I is unmistakably a mini system it does have a couple of design elements that help it stick out. The first is the front-facing iPod dock; most companies plonk the iPod on top of the unit, but by scalloping out the front edge of the CMTFX350I Sony has been able to place the iPod up against the fascia. This not only adds stability, but provides a cleaner "look".
The unit comes with a modicum of controls including large, friendly play and pause buttons. The display panel is a reasonably sized, one-line LCD and not only gives you digital radio information, but also track numbers for the on-board CD player. The disc tray features a latched, push-down lid.
Like many mini systems, the speakers are separate from the main unit and can be placed in a way to maximise the stereo effect. As a budget unit, the speakers themselves are chipboard and not the high-quality MDF you'd expect from a mid-range system.
The digital radio and iPod dock were easily controllable via the remote, which is small but functional.