JBL Radial

Designers of the 1960s had a very particular idea of what ‘the future’ would look like, and if you hanker for those days of white, spherical chairs and automated kitchens, the JBL Radial will appeal.

The Radial is an integrated unit with the subwoofer and satellite ‘tweeters’ built into a single, slightly radical shape.

The really surprising thing about this unit is its sound quality. The bass is powerful and the treble is crisp. Perhaps because of the small size, the audio does suffer from the excessive sharpess of digital, at the expense of warmth, but this can be adjusted via your iPod’s equaliser settings.

Speaking of the iPod, this is primarily an iPod adaptor, although there is an auxiliary input on the back. Using it will leave you with a gaping hole in the middle of the unit though, and it does look much snazzier with Apple’s MP3 player installed.

The real problem with this unit is positioning yourself in its sweet-spot. You can’t put it directly in front of you because it blocks the PC’s screen. And putting it on a shelf above makes it awkward to reach the iPod controls.

Making up for this is a USB pass-through port so you can update the iPod on the dock, and an S-Video out port for playing iPod videos on a TV. The remote is also handy.