Review Price £170.00
MagicBox Beam Extreme - Screen, Interface and Remote
The screen at first doesn't look all that impressive with a milky, dull
quality to it. However, this is actually a more understandable issue
considering the device's price and that it's a touchscreen. You would
not expect to get a capacitive, multi-touch, glass screen at this price,
and no amount of clever design could get round this. And, sure enough, it
uses a plastic resistive touch sensing layer. This means you have to
press it – rather than just touch it – a little to register a response.
Otherwise, though, the screen is great. It's large enough (3.5in) with a high enough resolution to read easily, it produces strong colours and remains surprisingly readable from all angles, despite being an LCD panel. Crucially, it's easy to read from the comfort of your bed. Touch response is also excellent, with even a casual prod eliciting an instant response.
The real trick here is that MagicBox has created a great interface that makes having the touchscreen a bonus rather than just a gimmick. All the icons are large and easy to read, and more importantly, easy to press. Everything from tuning the radio to selecting your streaming tunes is surprisingly intuitive.
Part of the success is that the interface is consistent. Whatever page you're on you know that in the bottom left is the button to return to the main menu, tapping the middle will bring up settings for the mode you're in, and on the right are buttons for going back and bringing up the volume control (though you're much more likely to just use the volume buttons than this).
If this all sounds like it should be a given then let us assure you that nothing could be further from the case – touchscreen interfaces on audio devices are notoriously bad so it's particularly nice to see one that breaks that trend.
In many ways, the included remote is also a bit plasticky and utilitarian (like the chassis of the dock) but actually it has a chunky charm to its styling and functionally it's superb. The buttons are large and easy to tell apart thanks to a sensible layout and them being different shapes and sizes.