If you've been looking around for a good docking station for your Philips GoGear player or Apple iPod, the Philips AJ300D Docking Entertainment System may be the perfect device for you. Doubling up as a digital radio alarm clock, the AJ300D is stylish, compact and surprisingly practical for what it is meant for.
As a radio clock, the Philips AJ300D isn't exactly what you'd call diminutive, standing tall at 191mm and weighing 1.34kg, but it isn't obtrusive either and for a docking station, we believe Philips has struck a good balance. The docking cradle sits at the front of the unit and supports most GoGear and iPod models (up to the 5th generation iPod) with bundled docking adapters. There was however, no proper adapter for the 2nd gen iPod nano, so while the player can still be fitted in, it isn't an exact match.
After connecting your player to the AJ300D, playback navigation will be controlled by the row of function buttons on both sides. You get the usual play/pause button, rewind and fast forward, volume, sleep mode and also the switch between tuner/aux mode and dock mode. These functions can also be found on the provided remote control, a thin, lightweight device that shares a similar design as the player with a very sophisticated silver finish.
On the right bezel of the AJ300D, you'll find five radio preset buttons. Power and time set buttons along with a function rocker are all sleekly engineered on the left side of the system. At the top, two alarm buttons are situated at the corners and not to forget the snooze/brightness control slab located at the very center of the top plate of the device.
The overall streamlined design is quite alluring, though there are a few technicalities we'd like to pick on. The brightness controls allow adjustments for the blue backlit LCD where the clock calls home, but the the 3-step (dim, bright and off) option is severely limited, making it difficult to find a comfortable level of brightness in different lighting conditions. Another thing we'd like to add to our wish list is a longer 3.5mm stereo output cable for the added convenience.
With features like an alarm to wake you up from slumber, you can choose between waking up to the radio, the docked player or just the unadventurous, dull ringing of the internal buzzer. Surprisingly, the volume of the alarm is not adjustable. It starts off mild and increases in volume, which does get pretty loud in the end, so no complaints there.
Unlike many radio alarm clocks, the AJ300D does not run on batteries. Still, it seems to be able to retain its date/time settings for a few minutes after the power is shut off. We tested this out and it really works! So, you can probably move the AJ300D from room to room and keep your settings.
Using the AJ300D as a docking station is altogether another experience. But first, a fair warning. The AJ300D seemed to blast music from our iPod immediately after docking without warning. As a work around, we had to set the music source to Aux first, dock our player, and then change it back to Dock output. Otherwise, audio quality of the system is exceptional. The AJ300D sports a proper stereo speaker setup and features a proprietary Philips technology called wOOx, which is a dedicated bass driver located at the back of the device. With this, you can feel bass being used to its fullest, which really impressed us for a player in this size and price range.
While audio sounds great, we could have used more functionality, such as better player navigation and a proper equalizer. As it is, you can only tweak audio settings via your iPod or GoGear player. Also note that the AJ300D supports the FM radio band only, so AM tuning is not available.
There are plenty of docking stations around for the Apple iPod, but with Philips GoGear support and excellent audio output with wOOx, the Philips AJ300D Docking Entertainment System is probably the most attractive and powerful radio alarm clock you'll find for its S$131 (~US$70) price range. Burgeoning with state of the art technology, together with its eye-catching contours, your search for the ideal docking station should be over.