Uh-oh. A new Hi-Fi without an iPod dock? What were the engineers behind the Panasonic SC-HC15 thinking? That people could live with MP3 CDs and USB sticks filled with tunes as long as the system looks good enough? We tested that theory out.
First of all – it sounds good. Whatever voodoo that goes on in the name of the Aero Stream Port, it works well. You get a rich, robust bass from the 10W speakers when the volume is at normal levels – and it really pounds as your crank it higher.
The sound distorts a bit at very low-levels – although that can only be expected. You should probably stop worrying about your neighbours and crank it up, anyway.
It’s also pretty beautiful. It’s piano-black finish and slender design (just 69mm thick) make it an ideal shelf-sitter. The thin profile and sleek design mean that it’s really unobtrusive – unlike bigger CD systems.
The front even mechanically slides open in a very-futuristic-for-1990 kind of way. The display is equally bachelor-tastic – a white on black.
The device plays normal CDs, MP3 CDs and USB sticks – so it’s not totally old tech. We’re not entirely sure who still uses MP3 CDs, but it’ll be great for the less-tech savvy generation.
Plug an iPhone into the USB dock and it won’t work, however – a big disappointment for today’s Apple generation. We still can’t get past the question – who downloads music onto USB sticks to play? If you do, please write in. Our thoughts are that a dock with a built-in mini-jack cable would have been more useful.
The HC15 sounds good, and its bachelor-friendly 90’s design is still in style. Unfortunately, the technology also feels a bit 1990’s. This means that today’s tapping and sliding iOS generation may find it a bit retro, in the “oh wait, this Sega Megadrive isn’t very good anymore” kind of way. Tech-heads should move on.
If you’re looking for a device for a less tech-aware consumer, the Panasonic sounds good, and is so simple, elegant and small, it won’t look out of place anywhere.