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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philips DC 199/37B iPod Docking FM 30-Watt Audio System, January 17, 2009
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This review is from: Philips DC199B/37 iPod Docking Audio 2.1 30-Watt System (Electronics)
Overall, this is a nice system that works fairly well and sounds decent. It's operating limitations hold it back from being very good or great.

This system offers four "modes" of operation:

1. iPod docking/charging station with limited operation via the Philips remote.
2. FM Radio with digital tuning, and 20 presets.
3. MP3/WMA audo from a USB Mass Storage Device (USB drive).
4. Alarm Clock - play audio from one of three sources (FM, iPod, MP3 on USB drive).

I suspect most people will be interested in this system for the iPod docking feature (at this price point). Philips supplies four different adapters [see note 1] that allow docking of all versions of iPod. Once docked, the system charges your iPod.

It offers only limited control of an iPod via the supplied remote; you CAN NOT traverse iPod menus using the remote. You can only play/skip/goto-start/goto-end a playlist (or play mode, such as playing everything by a certain artist), and that you must select from the iPod menus directly via the iPod controls.

This limitation is disappointing. It would be nice to be able to more fully control a docked iPod. But, for less than $100 (and with its other qualities) it is still a good product.

Sound quality is pretty good for such a small system. It has sufficient power to blast a medium-sized room, and the sound is pretty clean and crisp (I'm no audiophile though). Base is, oddly enough, its only weakness - though not in the way you might expect. There are only two modes - normal and Base Boost. In the normal (non Base Boost) play mode base is a little weak. In Base Boost, base is generally a little too pronounced for me when I'm right in front of the unit (especially since it is located in a shelving space that seems to amplify the base), but sounds very good when further away.

The FM radio is pretty decent, with good sensitivity and selectivity. It relies though on having an external antenna (75 Ohm coaxial connector on back, like many older TVs had). Though all initial product information, including that packaged with the system, indicates that a wire antenna is included - IT ISN'T![note 1] For the last few weeks we've been able to get by using a simple twin-core wire antenna from a mini-stereo this system replaced (just wire that barely makes contact with the antenna connector).

We have not yet played MP3 or non-DRM WMA files from a USB drive, but this is one of the DC 199's features that helped me decide to purchase this system. As far as I know this is the only system that offers this. With unprotected MP3 music becoming more available via iTunes and other sources, this feature is one we are likely to use more and more.

The clock/alarm clock feature might be useful for some. We don't use it. As far as we can tell, it works as one would expect.

Pros:
- iPod docking for every type (I think).
- iPod play control using supplied IR remote.
- Sound from satellite/sub-woofer design is generally rich and clear.
- FM radio discrimination/selectivity and sensitivity is pretty good.
- Playing MP3 files on USB disks is kinda nice.
- Inexpensive as iPod docking/powered speaker systems go.

Cons:
- Limitations on iPod play control using supplied IR remote.
- On/off Base emphasis - more gradual base emphasis would have been much better.
- FM receiver not much use without external antenna, which isn't included.

My conclusion: For the money this system is a good deal if you want to be able to listen to both iPod playback AND FM radio, or if you download music onto your computer and want to listen to it somewhere else in the house (from a USB drive).

Notes:
[1] All information I could find on this system before Christmas, including the User's Manual obtained from Philips' web site, indicated that an external wire antenna and eight iPod adapters were included in the DC 199/37B package. There was no antenna and only four adapters in the box. The distributor and Philips customer support have been helpful trying to resolve this (it's Philips' problem, really), but the bottom line is that after several weeks we still do not have the right antenna for it. A Philips tech. support person told me just yesterday that the documentation he has does NOT indicated that an antenna is included with the unit, and that only four adapters are included (the documents seem to have been revised to match reality).
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Location: Flint, MI USA

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