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2008-05-29My review: Logik LOG3016UB radio and alarm clock with USB port

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Logik radioMissing station presets, shuffle for USB playback and proper control over the three audio sources, but acceptable sound quality and it'll wake you up to your tunes.

I tried to buy a DAB digital radio, the 3006DBE, but the bastard seller on eBay (who's no longer registered by now) sent one of these instead. Which also happened to be broken. However, it did alert me to the fact the FM equivalent existed (so I went and bought one) and I did get most of the money back from the transaction courtesy of PayPal... though frankly, I'd have been better off claiming the item was lost in the post than dealing with the hassle of a return. (I just wasn't sure how that'd work in terms of verification, what with having had to collect it originally from a sorting office.)

I was after a replacement alarm clock radio, but what particularly attracted me to this line was the connectivity — headphone socket, auxilliary line-in, and a USB socket for playing MP3s from a flash drive. It's a fairly large retro-styled, self-contained ~2Kg unit that runs off mains power, with a built-in single speaker and no remote. Logik seems to be another "fake" brand (a subsidiary or contractor producing stuff for Dixons Store Group outlets, like Matsui) and the instructions are generic translated stuff, including notes about cycling with headphones and the phrase "for kitchen use only" — i.e. not suitable for a more humid environment.

DAB is actually a swizz anyway, with low quality being broadcast, DAB+ likely to take over, and DAB likely to be switched off before FM. Signal strengths are generally weak at the moment, and streams of either variety unlikely to get broadcast more strongly until the old services are turned off. Being higher wavelength than FM also means the digital formats face more problems from physical obstacles.

A drawback of the FM-only model is that there are no presets. The extra connectivity isn't all that useful... the line-in socket is on the back, and takes over automatically when plugged in; you can't just select the line-in when you want it (it overrides both USB and radio.) There's also a slight main hum, so you'll want this on the other side of a room if you plan to use it as an alarm clock. And there are reports that the USB socket can't handle some MP3 players... I'm speculating here, but this probably means some players that recharge via USB. Others should be fine, or just use a non-player stick.

On the upside... sound quality is good, though the top-mounted speaker will collect dust and need to be shaken off periodically. It's much better to wake up to music with accurate bass and midrange than the distorted howl of a standard clock radio. Mostly I've had the Eels' Blinking Lights sampler and Rancid's Out Come The Wolves on an old 128Mb USB attaché stick so far. The fad of using it as a radio didn't last long without the convenience of presets, but it's more convenient for listening to Classic FM than chewing up bandwidth on internet streaming. I should also note that the USB MP3 playback doesn't allow tracks to be played randomly — you have to make a playlist by naming your files.

With presets for stations, a button to switch between external inputs, a random play feature, and possibly even a remote, this could've been a tour-de-force of a compact audio system. It isn't, but is still a very convenient way of waking up to the songs you want and there's a radio thrown in as well — overall I'm fairly happy.


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