Gear4 KRG-D50 review

Something of a first for Gear4, the KRG-D50 is a universal iPod dock with the introduction of a DAB radio tuner alongside the more traditional FM mode. That's good news as digital only channels adds to listener choice, while DAB brings clarity to existing channels, although quality is dependent on what bitrate broadcasters use.

Compact, yet surprisingly heavy, the KRG-D50 is a small black brick of a box complete with single speaker, rows of buttons and a rather large LCD display that glows blue when in use. It's stylish without being overly fussy and the combination of shiny plastic and wood style veneer is a classy one despite what you might think. Round the back are the power supply, a headphone socket and a 3.5mm line-in port, useful if you want to attach a non-docking MP3 player.

The iPod dock itself sits on top and comes with additional dock adaptors to cover all possibilities. You'll need to be careful here, sitting your iPod into the dock, as it’s a snug fit that should be attempted with due care and attention, ideally not after a few too many late at night. Once connected the iPod will happily charge while you listen to music or radio.

iTunes playback is good without being spectacular, detail is clear, bass fine and the KRG-D50 coped well with a good selection of musical styles. Talking books, a late night favourite, were reproduced with depth and clarity. FM radio stations, like DAB, can be tuned in and set as favourites, which saves additional searching, although DAB settings aren't stored when power is lost. We also like the large snooze button on top of the unit, which is easy to use even when lying horizontal. Users have the option to wake up to iPod, DAB, FM radio or alarm.

While the KRG-D50 would be fine in a kitchen, spare room or study, at night, and in the bedroom, the blue LED display may prove an issue for some who like a dark room. You can easily cover the display, but it can't be dimmed, which is something Gear4 might like to look at for future models. The KRG-D50 is available from www.gear4store.com and stores across Europe.

OUR VERDICT

We'd like to see a way of dimming the blue display at night without resorting to card and tape and a remote control would be a bonus. Otherwise, the Gear4 KRG-D50 is a perfectly acceptable, solid feeling iPod speaker and charger dock that doubles up nicely as a satisfactory DAB/FM radio that's particularly suited to smaller rooms.

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