Original Radio from Philips is a Retro Radio Done Right [Review]

A piece of art. A modern twist. Simply beautiful. This is exactly how you would describe the new Original Radio from Philips. Based upon the design of the ‘original’ 1955 Philetta 254 radio, the new Original Radio takes the best features of the 1955 version and amplifies them ten-fold. This system really is an exquisite piece of audio equipment. But besides for being a piece of delicious eye candy, the Original Radio actually serves a purpose by working as an iPod/iPhone dock, as well as you guessed it – a radio.

The Original Radio takes nothing to setup, but sadly out of the box it may be considered outdated as it has a dock with a 30 pin connector. So unless you get an adapter for the iPhone 5, only the older generation iPod Touch or iPhone 4/ 4S will work with it. There is no Bluetooth capability either here, so you  can only connect an external device to it via an AUX port. Aside from those minor issues, the Original Radio is super simple to setup out of the box.  Just plug it into the wall and you are done. Once you dock your iPod Touch or iPhone, you will be prompted to download a Philips Audio app to work with the device. The app really isn’t required and provides nothing extra to the Original to enhance its overall charm, but if you want to utilize some EQ features, the app will let you do that, and it will also take over control of your playlist. A remote control is also included to use with the system.

Once you dock your iPod Touch/ iPhone, the Original will automatically sync the time on its display. That means that you will not have to set the time on the radio manually. This happened instantaneously after I docked my iPod Touch onto the Original Radio.

The dials on the Original Radio work similarly to how the Philetta 254 did back in the day. You can control the volume, turn it off, switch between different audio sources, or just simply play the radio. No external antenna is needed if your reception is strong, but Philips does include an external antenna wire. Radio reception is clear and we haven’t experienced any static so far. We have even been able to get reception for channels out of our city. Could a re-enactment of War of the Worlds be a dial turn away? Possibly…

The sound reproduced by the Original is certainly impressive compared to its ancestor. There is no tinny sounds or static emanating out of this trusty radio. Sound reproduction is very balanced, but bass is weak and lacks oomph. In general, highs and mids ruled supreme here. Furthermore, put at its highest volume of 32 – the Original holds its own and doesn’t break into a hissy, noisy mess, which is very impressive. It’s also worth nothing that it performs much better in smaller rooms compared to others with more open spaces which let sound escape. Positioning the Original in an area is key to getting an optimal sound experience. In comparison to the Philips Fidelio line, the Original certainly sounds good, but is not as balanced or meaty as its more pricier cousin.

Verdict

The Philips Original is a truly beautiful iPhone Dock and speaker system that makes a statement. Certainly the lack of Bluetooth and lightning connector makes it a bummer. But its unique detailing, and quality sound reproduction, make it a one of a kind device that you have to own. The Philips Original Radio retails for $199.00 and is available in a choice of chili red or cream.

The Good: Classic design with a modern twist, great built-in radio with quality sound, and remote control included.

The Bad: Lack of Bluetooth connectivity, won’t work with lightning iOS devices out of the box, and no battery option.

Update 1/20/2013: Philips is now offerring the Original Radio with a lightning connector too!

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