JVC UX-D100 Hi-Fi System  

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I thought it would be good to take a longer term look at a few products, some of which will no longer be on the market but that will give an insight into the quality and concerns of different manufacturers. First up is this JVC mini hifi.

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After a couple of years getting by with an ad-hoc combination comprising various wireless Bluetooth speakers I was sorely missing a 'hifi' box with good speakers and quality sound. After shopping around I settled on this product from JVC. I can't say the decision was very informed. JVC traditionally had a name for quality and innovation and this box has all the features I thought I needed: bluetooth to connect to mobile devices; aux-in to connect with my ancient TV; a CD player (an increasingly rare beast) and both DAB and FM radio.

First, the good points. The sound quality from the two 70W speakers is excellent, possibly the best I've heard from a system of this size and in this price bracket. Sound quality was one of my highest requirements and I was not disappointed. DAB radio reception is excellent for the stations I've listened to using the provided wire aerial.

I will admit I was slightly attracted by the somewhat gimmicky valves on the front of the device. Although these may in part have been responsible for the quality of the sound the designers had very little consideration of standard usage of the device. Switching on the unit starts a 'valve warm up cycle' which lasts 20 seconds, which is helpfully counted down on the display. Now 20 seconds while you're watching a display is a very long time. During this period you can do nothing with the device - none of the controls except switching it off are operative. This includes, for example, ejecting the CD tray. I found this delay to be the most frustrating part of an otherwise well designed product, exacerbated by an inordinately short automatic power down when the unit is idle. I can't count the number of times I've gone through the sequence of: switch on; irritatedly watch the first few seconds of the display; get bored so quickly pop out to put the kettle on; been distracted for what seems like a few minutes; return to find the system has switched itself off and you're back to square one. This is really quite ridiculous and should have been obvious to any competent design engineer.

The product comes with a handy remote control. Actually this is more than handy because without it many of the features of the system aren't accessible. This in itself suffered from the design flaw which made it very difficult to work out which is the end that needed to be pointed to the receiver. To my eye it should have been held the other way up and sods law prevailed on almost every occasion.

The system seemed to very quickly experience several 'sort of' faults, which may have been there from the beginning. The first was the volume control which was very temperamental. Being a software volume control it is implemented through a dial which turns in both directions. Unfortunately the system seemed to get very confused about which way it was being turned with the volume sometimes going up and at others down regardless of the direction of rotation.

Finally, although the DAB radio reception was excellent it does periodically and randomly change channel to the first available one detected. Selecting the channel without the remote control is very tedious and involves stepping through each channel in order one by one.

On the whole a physically well designed product let down, as is often the case, through bad software and usability design. It is however relatively inexpensive for a system with this sound quality.

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OverallJVC UX-D100 Hi-Fi System  rated 60 out of 100

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