The small field of high-end table radios has an impressive new entry: Polk Audio's I-Sonic. It's the company's first offering into the category, and Polk has upped the ante, offering more features out of the box than most, if not all, of its competitors. Essentially, it's an all-format digital entertainment system that looks like the serious tabletop radio that it is. I-Sonic isn't really for your entertainment center (unless you have a basic setup), but it's a contender for every other room including dorms, offices, bedroom, and kitchens. Maybe not the bathroom, though.
The I-Sonic can do a lot: it plays AM and FM as well as the new digital standard of HD Radio, and it's even XM-ready (you'll still need a $13-a-month subscription to tune in, however). In addition to having a DVD player, it plays CDs, MP3 CDs, and Kodak Photodiscs, too. It's a feature set that puts other table radios to shame.
WHO WANTS THISAnyone who wants a great table radio that does a lot and has lots of cash.
WHYThe I-Sonic just might be the best-sounding tabletop, with the most features period.
WHAT'S COOLReally impressive acoustics, with four total speakers. Does XM and HD Radio if that's your thing.
WHAT'S LAMEDVD player isn't progressive scan.
FINAL MARK: AThe weak DVD player took it down a notch.
PRICE: $599. Ouch!Check out Polk Audio's site for more details.
Moving on to the radio, not only does it have the expected AM/FM, but I-Sonic also has HD radio, which completely sets itself up — no tweaking. Tune into your regular FM station and if that station offers an HD channel the radio will tell you and give you access to it. Also, HD radio stations offer secondary channels. So if you were listening to 89.1, you could tune into, say, 89.1-2 (a big benefit to station owners is that every channel can have seven secondary channels in the same band — think ad sales).
HD Radio is digital, which supposedly leads to better quality. I'm not so sure about that, but there are certainly no pops, hissing, or static. It gets better: I-Sonic is XM satellite-ready, wonderful in itself but the radio does one better by giving you 30 station presets that you can mingle between AM, FM, HD and XM stations.
Of course, there's a clock radio with dual alarm and the beloved snooze button. The blue backlit display has three settings and is large enough to read from either side of the bed. There are two auxiliary inputs (one for your iPod) as well as a headphone jack. The handy credit-card-size remote works well enough and all the buttons are the same size and easy to read, but they aren't backlit so you will need a flashlight for fun in the dark.