iPods and iPhones have become so ubiquitous that few micro systems released today fail to give Apple’s music machines a nod. The Sony MX550i offers more than just an iPod dock, but it displays its “made for iPod” roots proudly. But is the Sony MX550i any good at pumping out your iPod’s tunes? We find out in this Sony MX550i review.
Read the rest of our Sony MX550i review
Sony MX550i review
Sony MX550i review – sound quality
Unlike its smaller brother the Sony CMT-VX77DBi, the Sony MX550i doesn’t leave you to simply plonk your iPhone or iPod on the top of the main stereo unit. Instead, the hinged dock pops out of the front of the MX550i, a bit like a cassette deck. Once fully extended, this dock sits flat and is locked in position.
To flip the dock back up into the Sony MX550i, you have to flick a little switch that sits behind the iPod connector – which you won’t be able to see once an iDevice is slotted in. The Sony MX500i will charge your iPod and iPhones while connected, although the box doesn’t say whether it’ll play ball with an iPhone 4. It had no problems with the iPod Classic, iPod Touch and iPhone 3G players that we tested.
Plug an iPod into the Sony MX550i and it’ll automatically switch to iPod mode – although you can also switch between sources (DAB/CD,AUX input) with the big Function button on the front of the MX550i.
Using the bundled remote control, the Sony MX550i gives you direct control over your iPod. You can navigate through your music library, and even through the player’s menu system. Ideally, we’d like to see the contents of our iPod displayed on a larger screen – from just a couple of metres away, the screen of an iPod is difficult to read. Such functionality would require two things that the Sony MX550i doesn’t have – a decent screen and a bit more intelligence.
The Sony MX500i’s screen is perfectly fine at the limited tasks it has to deal with, but with just one main line of text in its arsenal, there’s no way it could cope with displaying the masses of info involved in a music library. You need a Sony Gigajuke-sized screen for that kind of advanced browsing. The Sony Gigajuke range uses a hard drive to let you keep your whole collection in the one place, so in use it’s not a million miles away from an iPod dock.
Even if it had a full colour screen, we have a sneaking suspicion that the Sony MX550i wouldn’t have the brain power to handle organising a whole music library. It may be able to do a lot, with DAB, FM radio and a CD player on-board, but this is a simple, no nonsense, and largely no-frills, micro system.
If you’re planning on using the Sony MX550i in a small room, or are happy to get up-close to switch between albums, the simple approach this hi-fi takes will be perfect for your needs. However, its unambitious approach to iPod docking doesn’t get us excited.