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      12.02.2012 21:38
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      It's old fashioned, but I'll keep using this until it goes to stereo heaven

      I have had this all-in-one stereo for as long as I can remember, in fact I think I bought it to take to uni with me, so it's at least ten years old. Understandably I can't remember exactly how much I paid for it, but it was probably in the region of £100 at the time. I was blessed with a wonderful system of hifi separates which had been donated to me by my dad when he fancied upgrading, but unfortunately my tiny room at uni didn't have space for it all, so I had to get an all-in-one which I could transport and store more easily.

      The best way to buy one of these is probably second hand, I've just found one on Ebay for £35 so you can pick them up cheap and as they last a long long time I wouldn't hesitate at buying a second hand version.

      The great thing about this hifi at the time was that it was a convenient way of providing music without taking up too much room. Obviously these days, there are devices which are absolutely tiny and take up even less room than this, but generally speaking I think these stereos are still reasonably popular for anyone who prefers the old fashioned playing of CD's or even cassettes, rather than doing everything electronically.

      As you can see from the picture, the hifi is silver in colour, and I think it's quite smart looking. Although there are much trendier and updated systems these days, I still have this set up in my spare room for guests, and I think it looks smart without being overly modern. The speakers are wooden with grey foam protectors, and this gives it a bit of a retro look.

      The hifi is very easy to set up, I can remember taking this to university and moving it each time I moved rooms/houses. I'm a bit of a technophobe most of the time, but even I could work out how this was set up. It has colour coded wires and the inputs at the back are clearly labelled, so it's obvious what gets plugged into which hole. (Yes, "hole", that's how technical I am!).

      The stereo has a CD player which is at the top of the device, and the CD lid is opened by pressing gently on it to flick it up. It also has a cassette player, which is probably not much use to anyone these days, but in my youth I owned a fair few cassettes which my dad had given me, so I have had good use out of this. It automatically reverses the tape when it ends, so you don't have to physically open it and turn it round. Like I say, there will be people of a certain generation reading this who are amazed that this used to be sold as a desired feature.

      The stereo picks up radio and you can pre-set your favourite channels, but I used to find that reception wasn't great so I used this mainly for listening to my own music. Obviously this may have been more to do with where I had it set up and how I was programming it, rather than its capability to pick up radio. It also has the ability to set it as an alarm, but again this is something I never really used because I had a separate alarm clock with a bigger display so I could see the time when I woke up during the night.

      The hifi comes with a neat little remote, which has the ability to do everything you could possibly need whilst lying in bed or on the sofa. I used to find this quite useful when I was studying, I'd be lying on the bed and just point and pick songs for a distraction! You can also use headphones with it as you'd expect from this kind of model.

      Sound quality is probably better than you'd expect from a hifi of this size. It's not tinny or distorted, but is perfectly clear and you can adjust the balance to suit the music you are listening to. I've always been spoilt by a decent hifi containing separates, so it's very difficult for an all-in-one system to compare to this, but as far as mini hifi's go, this one is outstanding in terms of sound quality.

      This system is so user-friendly, unless you're doing something like setting the alarm you won't even need an instruction manual to figure out how to get started with it. In my opinion, this makes it ideal for people who are a bit scared of technology, for example older people who enjoy a bit of music but don't have the technical skills or desire to learn how to use MP3 players and suchlike. It's literally a click-and-go sort of system which is what some people want these days, despite the increasing amount of technology being invented.

      I bought this system when I first went to university, and I have sinced used it in every house I've lived in. It's been used in the kitchen, the bedroom, the spare room for guests, and it's lived in storage in between house moves. It's very durable and robust, and has lasted me a long time. If you are after something small but sturdy, this does the job perfectly well and gives clear sound without breaking the bank. It might be a little on the old-fashioned side these days, but if you can pick one up on the cheap it's a good little all-rounder which is ideal for kitchens and spare bedrooms.

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