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Boston Acoustics Duo-i review

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Boston Acoustics Duo-i
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Summary

Our Score:

9

Not everyone needs or wants DAB radio. FM does a very good job for most stations and AM is on hand if you want to tune into live sports coverage on Radio 5 Live - seriously, what else is it used for nowadays?

However, though that may be the case for many people, I think it's fair to say the majority value the convenience and ease of use of DAB, especially with the ability of some radios, like the Pure Tempus-1 S, to record and playback shows at your convenience. Thus, when I was made aware of the Boston Acoustics Duo-i I was somewhat sceptical. Surely no radio-cum-iPod speaker dock in this day and age can compete if it can't do DAB?

Well, personally, I still maintain that viewpoint, but if you don't mind making that sacrifice then the Boston Acoustics Duo-i is without doubt the best example of a radio/iPod speaker dock we've yet seen.

Ok, so the styling may not be to everyone's liking and a choice of finishes would be nice. Boston does offer some choice in the form of swappable speaker grills, which come in nine colours including chilli pepper (red) that we've used in a number of the other photos here, caramel (caramel), and olive (green), as well as the default grey.

Even with the grey grills in place, though, it has a certain austere charm and an understated elegance that means it should still fit in with most d├ęcors. It's also incredibly well built with not a rough edge, degree of flex or dodgy join anywhere in sight.

The high quality speakers and amplifiers do result in it weighing a hefty 3.7Kg and the deep speaker housings do give it a larger footprint than you might expect, though. Certainly if you plan to have this on a bedside table, you may have to sacrifice your tabletop lamp, for instance. If you can manage to squeeze it on, though, you'll be very pleased.

That's because while the Duo-I is in essence just another decent sounding ipod dock-cum-radio, its brilliance comes in all the little details that make it so easy to use.

For a start, the three main controls are all very accurate and slick to use making adjusting things like radio tuning and clock times really quick and easy. A push of the larger central dial turns the Duo-i on and rotating it controls volume. The one on the right then serves the double function of tuning the radio and skipping tracks when using an iPod. Pressing it in also alternates between playing and pausing the iPod and auto-tunes to the next station.

On the left is the mode dial, which is used to navigate the Duo-i's menu, except it isn't really a menu but rather a grid of icons (see the video review for a demonstration), which you cycle through using the dial. In this way you can control all the Duo-i's main functions including switching between inputs, setting the alarms, and activating Sleep mode.

ruthless

November 20, 2008, 1:58 pm

DAB radio is a medium in crisis - note Channel 4 pulling out of their proposed national stations. Add that to the fact that DAB is actually not that good and it seems eminently sensible for Boston Acoustics to produce a radio without it. What would have made the radio really desirable would have been the inclusion of wi-fi internet radio.

james1000

November 20, 2008, 2:25 pm

Shame once again this isnt portable with the otion of battery power.

Ed

November 20, 2008, 2:44 pm

@james1000





While I see where you're coming from, there's simply no way you could make an audio device of this quality run on batteries. Not without adding significantly to its weight (approx 5Kg) and being happy with just a few hours usage. That's why portable radios like the Pure Evoke Flow, the Roberts Stream WM-202, and the Dualit Lite have small, relatively weak speakers.

james1000

November 20, 2008, 6:50 pm

I just dont understand how in the 1980's you could get a decent ghettoblaster with battery option, yet 25 years later and products matching that sort of power just dont dont seem to exist...

Martin Daler

November 20, 2008, 7:26 pm

agree with Ruthless - never mind the DAB, where's the internet radio? Most especially for a bedside radio. Because apart from the youngsters out there, I guess most of us go to bed at about our usual bedtime and get up the next morning, so you're sentenced to a lifetime listening to the same thing on the radio schedule every night and every morning - unless you have internet radio, when you can so easily dial up whichever podcast or listen-again stream you like from Auntie.


As to batteries, never used them, it stays plugged in!

Ed

November 20, 2008, 7:48 pm

Well, I must say, I'm rather glad to see there are conflicting opinions on just what this radio lacks. It just goes to show that you can't please everyone.





Personally, in my time using internet radio products, I've just not been that sold on the concept. Maybe that's because I tend to listen to radio just for background noise and seldom have time or inclination to sit and listen to specific spoken word programs. If I want to listen to music I actually like, I'll plug my iPod in (I can also load this with podcasts of many of the shows I might otherwise listen to). Maybe I'll catch the internet radio bug one of these days.





As for the ghettoblaster argument, do you remember how big those things were!? Not to mention how many batteries they took and how long they lasted.

Martin Daler

November 20, 2008, 11:41 pm

ah, well Ed, as you probably know (?), the BBC has a range of tech/science radio output, but its scattered all around the schedules and wavelengths. So there's Material World, Science in Action, Leading Edge, Discovery, Digital Planet, and more I'm sure, all probably overlapping with the TR profile (if there is such a thing). But if you want to listen to such as you nod off each night (and what else is a bedside radio for? {er, apart for waking up to of course...}) then you have a choice of an erratic bedtime or an internet radio. Otherwise I suppose there is always "Today in Parliament" on FM.


So keep the Internet Radio reviews coming please

AJ

November 28, 2008, 4:16 pm

I hope you can answer a few quick questions for me as I'm very keen on buying one of these very soon. In fact I’m have trouble stopping myself from visiting John Lewis tonight…





1) It appears that the Duo-i has been out since March (ish) and it's very unusual for Trusted Reviews to wait so long to review a product; so is this a new version or was it just much later appearing in the UK than the internet makes out ?





2) iPhone 3g compatibility. In the pictures it looks like you tested it with an iPhone 3g. Can you confirm if this is so and if there were any issues ? Did it charge the phone for instance? This is an absolute must for me.





3) Finally, I've heard in reviews that the speakers are not shielded and therefore when the phone is on the unit you can get "interference" / "feedback". Did you notice this at all in your testing?





Thanks for any help.

AJ

December 2, 2008, 12:45 pm

Shame. It seems that communication on this item was a one day only affair on the 20th.





I haven't bought one far because the worry of the interferance at low volumes is just too great.

Ed

December 2, 2008, 2:09 pm

Not at all, AJ. I merely missed you previous comment.





1. We were just late to the party. It's a relatively new area for us so we're catching up.





2/3. The iPhone 3G is compatible and charges but you do get interference, which amounts to occasional squeaks and pops, if you don't turn on airplane mode. Depending on your usage, this could either be slightly annoying or a real deal-breaker. Personally I didn't find it an issue.

AJ

December 2, 2008, 5:47 pm

Thanks Ed. Obviously these weren't too bad - or they would I'm sure have effected your review. Good to know that it charges the 3g.





One last question. This comes from the comments on places such as Amazon (from owners). Did you ever have it by the side of the bed as you slept or in another like environment.? Many are commenting that it makes a small buzzing noise.





If it does then I know I can't have one. There is a small electrical buzzing from the aerial booster in my bedroom 12ft from the bed, if I don't unplug it then it annoys the hell out of me and I can't sleep. :-(

Ed

December 3, 2008, 4:40 pm

I can't say I noticed anything like that. I'm afraid I can't confirm either way though.

Martin Daler

December 17, 2008, 4:39 am

"I tend to listen to radio just for background noise and seldom have time or inclination to sit and listen..."


Curious credentials for one reviews the product!


But on a more serious note, why do the Boston Acoustics products not show up in your database. Filter in Multimedia for "DAB" and no Boston Acoustics products show up, and "Boston Acoustics" does not appear in the "brand" drop-down list either. Clandestine review?

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