There’s a definite micro-system template. It demands rock-solid build quality in a system smaller than a shoebox, and has strict rules on the layout and controls. All those points have been rigidly followed by TEAC.
The H257i comes with the expected feature list too: CD, DAB and FM playback. But where previous models had a USB input in the middle of the fascia, this has a port for the supplied iPod dock.
That fascia, by the way, will outlive you – it’s a thick slab of aluminium that greatly adds to the overall impression of solidity. Other classy touches include a CD drawer that opens and closes in a satisfyingly smooth way, a decent two-line display that even shows iPod song titles, and responsive controls.
The first deviation from the micro rulebook is with the audio. Where most systems like to major on thrill and attack, this one shoots for a more considered, ‘grown up’ presentation, dishing the details as readily as a gossip columnist and generating a bigger sound than seems credible, given its size.
The second pleasant surprise is the iPod dock. This allows you full menu access to your ’Pod through the remote control, and will pass video through the unit and on to a TV (via S-video or composite) while handling the audio itself.
Non-Apple users aren’t left out, thanks to a front-mounted 3.5mm input. There’s a 3.5mm out too, headphone fans.
TEAC don’t dance
But for all its poise, the TEAC has two left feet when it comes to dancing. At the first hint of a processed beat it comes over all flustered, unable to deliver the sort of drive managed by the best of its rivals.
However, if your tastes don’t stretch to four-to-the-floor beats and drum-kicks, or you intend to listen rather than cut a rug, the CR-H275i is an ideal choice.