- Low-ish price tag
- Cool motorised dock
- Good range of features
- Could have done with a better screen
- Lacks bass
Review Price £170.00
The Panasonic SC-HC37DB is essentially a cut down version of the SC-HC57DB that we looked at recently. Both have similar designs, but this model lacks support for Apple's Airplay technology. However, as a result it's a good deal cheaper to buy as it costs around £170 as opposed to the £230 you're likely to pay for the higher-end model. So, if you don’t need AirPlay support, is this system a good bet?
The SC-HC37DB is a essentially a micro Hi-Fi that has a built-in CD player, dual mode FM/DAB radio tuner and a dock for your iPod or iPhone. There's also a USB port so it can be used to playback MP3 files from USB keys or hard drives. The system is completely integrated, so the speakers are built-in and can't be detached from the main unit.
Taking the Panasonic SC-HC37DB out of the box, it doesn't feel quite as sturdy as a lot of Panasonic's premium products do, partly because the case is made entirely from plastic. Nevertheless, it's still relatively attractive to look at from the front. There's a neat Perspex trim that runs around the outer edge of the system, and we also like the way the speaker grills are semi-transparent so you can just about see the two speaker drivers on either side staring back at you. Unusually the tweeters are mounted at the bottom while the main speaker drivers, which are made from bamboo fibres, are found at the top. All four of the speakers working together produce a total power output of a fairly modest 40 watts.
The showpiece of this model's design, however, is the sliding door at the front. When you press the Eject CD button it slides left to reveal the vertically-mounted CD mechanism to allow you to load a disc. However, even cooler is that when you press the Eject iPod button the door slides right and then a motorised tray extends out to accept your music player or phone. Press the Eject button again and the tray retracts into the body of the SC-HC37DB and the door closes over the front of it. However, as this door is made from semi transparent plastic you can still see and read your iPhone's screen when it's tucked away inside, although with the backlight off it's neatly obscured. The motorised system looks cool and adds a lot of extra desirability to what would otherwise be a pretty straightforward micro Hi-Fi.
Across the top of the system there's a line of buttons for switching between the iPod, CD player, Radio and USB functions. There are also basic playback and volume controls here, as well as a button for turning off and on the Dynamic Bass mode. However the system comes with a small credit card sized remote that actually offers more control, as it includes some additional buttons to allow you to move through the menus on your iPod, mute the system's sound and enter the set-up menu.