Top critical review
37 people found this helpful
Kinda works, but seriously flawed
on June 7, 2013
I bought the Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance 2 without the Bluetooth. I was never able figure out what if the difference was between this model and the Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance (without the 2 and $50 cheaper). I had read all the reviews I could find and glossed over the complaints, thinking they were just some peoples unlucky models or the problems that would be fixed by firmware updates, but this radio really does have quite a few problems.
* Has a nice looking touch screen with on-screen keyboard
* Sounds OK with some fiddling with the sound adjustments
* Pandora part works quite well
* The FM radio tuner is quite bad, strong clear stations sound muddy and untuned. Weaker station won't be picked up at all.
* The internet radio works fairly well and has a big collection of stations to browse, but the browsing part is seriously flawed. A few minutes of switching and browsing through stations will result in the radio rebooting/resetting. You don't lose any settings, and it goes back to where it was, but it takes about 2 minutes to cycle through the Cambridge Soundworks logos. Very annoying and to me unacceptable. Some reviewers suggested it may be due to weak Wifi signal, but I connected it through a wired RJ-45 ethernet cable (with the wfi profile deleted), and had the same rebooting problem.
* The touchscreen, while looking nice, is at times unresponsive and finicky. Since it's a table radio, most likely sitting on on normal height table, the front facing screen can be awkward to access.
* Alarm setting allows choosing the audio source (FM radio, internet radio, Pandora, etc) but you can not choose a preset station, only the last thing playing in that mode. Probably because the remotes preset buttons only work for the FM radio.
* The remote lacks functions, and you can be moving from screen to screen where remote stops working because they forgot add the remote functions, so you have to go touch the selection on the screen. When using the remote, the selection color is white text on light green background, almost unreadable. You don't notice this when using the touchscreen because you just touch the selection and it only flashes this way for a second, but when navigating through menus with remote its almost unusable.
* I think the wifi radio was suppose to support a web-based way to add and manage stations, as there's a menu option for "My Added Stations" but as far as I can tell there is no way to do this.
I returned the Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance 2 and bought the slightly more expensive Sangean DDR-63. They are very similar in many ways, but the Sangean works so much better. The FM radio tuner is about 10 times better. All around really good sound quality, has a CD player, can record anything to MP3 file on SDHC card/Thumbdrive. Remote works much better, much easier to do everything with remote. Alarms can choose a preset station. It does NOT crash and reboot every few minutes. Works with wifiradio-frontier site to manage and add internet radio stations. The mono-chrome, non-touchscreen display is not as pretty as the Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance, and text entry is a pain, done by navigating to select letters, but this is mostly done during setup.
The Cambridge SoundWorks Ambiance seems to have a bigger better collection of internet radio stations, it's kind of nice to be able to do keyword search for stations using the touchscreen keyboard. But with wifiradio-frontier on the Sangean, I think you can pretty much add any station from anywhere.