Free the Panasonic SC-EN38DB from the shackles of its packaging and there's a fair chance you'll be unimpressed. The plastic fascia looks decidedly plain and the matching speakers feel cheap and insubstantial.
Well, what do you expect from a £100 micro system?
One thing you might not expect is such an impressive feature count. Firstly there's a CD player hidden behind a folding front panel. There's also a concealed, integrated iPod dock, compatible with virtually every incarnation of the MP3 player. You can even sync your PC with your iPod when it's put in the dock.
The feature list doesn't stop there: you can also add FM and DAB radio functionality, an auxiliary 3.5mm input and a USB input that caters to MP3 players with Flash memory.
Cheap and cheerful in every way
The SC-EN38DB comes with a basic remote control that works in conjunction with a small neon blue display. It's about as intuitive as you'd expect from a £100 system and getting it to function properly can be frustrating at times.
You have the option of choosing from four preset sound modes, none of which really improve quality. Keep them turned off and the system is capable of chucking out a perfectly inoffensive sound.
Yes, the speakers sound a little thin, but they're not overly grating. The DAB signal has a tendancy to break up and when it does lock on, there's a lack of fidelity compared to the best budget DAB radios.
By sonic standards the Panasonic is found wanting, but admittedly you can't demand the world from a system this cheap. There aren't many systems that offer the same plethora of features at such a low price.