So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Diminutive yet distinguished
- Stylish, good connectivity, decent midrange and treble performance
- Short speaker cables, no bass response
The XL-UH2080H is a mouthful of a name for such a small hi-fi system. It performs its tasks admirably, as long as you don't expect it to blow you away with booming bass.
Price$ 259.00 (AUD)
Sharp's XL-UH2080H hi-fi system is small but it packs quite a punch. The little component system is user-friendly and simple to set up (despite being slightly restrictively cabled) and has plenty of inputs. The system doesn't have the volume to fill a large room effectively, but for smaller rooms and reasonable listening levels it provides a well-metered sound.
The system looks like every other micro hi-fi system on the market — a central unit with two bookshelf speakers. It's quite stylish, thanks to a black gloss finish on the speakers.
Released alongside the XL-DK227NH (which features an iPod input), the XL-UH2080H boasts a power rating of 32 Watts RMS per channel. This doesn't sound very powerful, and it's not. Don't despair, however, as there are advantages that go hand-in-hand with this. While it might not have sufficient volume to fill a large room, the system's maximum level is sufficient to fill a medium-sized space with sound, and it does this without distorting or losing clarity.
The XL-UH2080H's three main modes are radio, CD and USB playback, and it handles all three with ease. Extra attention has been given to its USB mode, so the USB host can handle complicated folder and file structures.
It's quite an easy system to use. Once the system is turned on it's simple to choose one of its modes, using either the controls on the face of the unit or the bundled remote. Oddly enough, although there's a button to start playing a CD or song via USB on the unit, there's no option to skip forward or back. That's entirely the realm of the remote, which also handles the advanced sound settings.
The system comes pre-loaded with five equaliser settings — Rock, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Flat. There's also a bass expansion setting, to push the bookshelf speakers out of their comfort zone.
That isn't to say the speakers aren't quite capable without equalisation. When listening to rock music they're a little out of their league in terms of bass and midrange. They're definitely best suited to listening to the radio and MP3s, but do an adequate job at more taxing tasks.
Treble is a strong point of these speakers. It's generally one of the easier ranges to reproduce, thanks to the simple components needed — no excessively large speaker drivers or complicated enclosures. In this unit it's successfully handled by the two-inch tweeter driver in each bookshelf speaker; it sounds consistently crisp and bright throughout all volume levels. It's a credit to these drivers that even at high volumes they remained composed and smooth, without sounding nearly as harsh and painful as other mini hi-fi systems we've heard.
Midrange is acceptable. It's certainly less obvious compared to treble, but it's still audible at normal listening volumes. It does get slightly bloated at higher volumes, however, leading to the sound becoming somewhat boomy and indistinct. The bass reflex tubes built in to the back of the cabinets help with both midrange and bass volume levels, but they have to be placed directly against a wall to achieve anything.
Bass is all but nonexistent. It's unrealistic to expect such small cabinets to have low frequency response — unless they're specifically tuned to do so, compromising all other frequencies. However, there is a subwoofer pre-out on the back of the control unit, so you can upgrade by buying an active subwoofer. This is actually quite a bright idea from Sharp, because a dedicated subwoofer would fill this system's missing frequency ranges perfectly.
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