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So, the other day whilst I was out and about and shopping around for the basics in household kitchen goods at Tesco (chopping boards, food storage tubs and other grommets), I came across the reduced section of electricals and cast my beady eyes on the shelf to see what half price products were on offer. Amidst the iPod docks where remote control handsets were missing, to kitchen mixers missing a beater and a kettle missing its base power outlet, I wondered who on earth Tesco have in mind for shoppers eager to get a bargain product without the necessary equipment that is lacking in order for those products to work properly! Call me crazy, but if you’re going to buy a bargain, it has to at least come with all the accessories at the time in order for it to WORK properly! I was initially in the market for cheap speakers to add to my personal CD Walkman as the radio in the hospital when visiting loved ones weren’t very good and were very old and battered. Size was important at the time too, having tried to place my bargain Bush portable CD player, only to find it wasn’t portable enough to sit on the main drug trolley next to the hospital bed and there was no way I was going to place it on the floor!
Nar2’s Quick Skip Product Spec
• Model number BB 211/BB211EP (not to be confused with KEC ending model that has a cassette player added!) • Black colouring with silver buttons/silver controllers. • 2 watts total power/1 watt per speaker. • Can take 4 large 1.5 “C” type batteries, comes with mains cord. • On/off button, single volume control dial and radio station dial. • Digital buttons for CD play with program feature. • AM/FM radio stations. • Can play CD, CD-R and CD-RW formats. • Auxiliary IN jack. • Size 11cm by 18cm by 29cm and 1.4kg. • 2012 price at Tesco £14-97, Product code: 215-7828. • Economical to run.
The Price, The Product & The Promise
Then I saw Tesco’s “Boom Box,” BB series. I had read about this particular product from a review by a Dooyoo member recently, albeit a brighter looking model to the more basic one in matt Black that Tesco are now selling. This tiny little CD radio player stereo commands the same kind of size that a large bedroom digital alarm radio takes up and I couldn’t believe the size of it when I saw it on the shelf. Priced at £14-97, the price hardly breaks the bank here and I was
Pictures of Tesco Value BB 211 Boombox
Simple, smart and efficient - but its a pity the sound is tinny.
taken with one particular feature that stood out (that even Tesco fail to spot!) even though, outwardly this CD player & radio combo is very basic to the eye. I was absolutely delighted to find that the radio could be sited on the nearby bed cabinet by the hospital bed, taking up less space than the 9” table fan I had previously bought!
Out of the box, the BB211 is really very simple to operate and the first impressions are that this little stereo is well made in predominately thick black plastics here and there. This is a very simple system that you won’t need to refer to the user manual at all! This is simply down to the fact that every function that each button or dial has, is clearly labelled with white/silver writing on the black body and there’s not much to the eye that the BB211 entices you to check out. The novel grab handle to this little CD radio player is located right at the front and looks like a bumper cross beam member that looks right out of place. It isn’t very strong either, able to fit comfortably but can feel as if it is flexing into my whole hand, thus providing a good idea of just how small this stereo unit really is, but also providing a good and portability aspect about it, by the central handle located at the front, alone.
Crucially though, the model comes with a mains power cord, so it is handy to be used straight away or wherever the destination is desired at the time of purchase – so unlike a lot of budget radio products these days alone where you can only use batteries only – hence the cheaper prices. A silver function slider switch on the right hand side of the unit allows you to choose up to four options including the AM/FM radio bands and a short telescopic radio aerial is also included that only goes so far, but is able to tune into radio stations quite well, safely locking down into the moulded injection plastic holder. Throughout the whole experience though it is plainly obvious that the age group that could control this model is about 14 and upwards. If you have a child who is responsible and below this age, the stereo could still be used - there certainly aren't any small bits that could endanger a child, but a child with responsibility should know how to use various appliances with logic.
Strangely though, the BB211 has an on/off switch – clearly designed to save on money if your stereo is plugged in all the time permanently but gives the owner the option to manually switch the whole “system” off when you no longer want to listen to CD’s or the radio. I class the switch then as an economical energy saver, even though it's an additional button I've never seen before on a portable stereo unit.
General Performance, Sound Quality & Downsides
Where general performance is concerned, the Tesco Value BB211 doesn’t do many things wrong. This is down to the simplicity of the controls and the little thoughts that allow you to get the best out of the radio at the time of use. Take the CD door for example – there are no sprung mechanisms or push buttons to release the door when putting a CD in. Instead the cheaper addition of a finger picker is located on the top of the door, giving you instant access to lift the lid, drop the CD in, close down and press play and the Tesco unit here doesn’t take ages to sense the CD, whirring quietly about it! Helpfully there is a LCD screen (but is unlit) that gives the number of tracks and general, universal smaller numbers to indicate if you have chosen to play the whole CD or program it to selective tracks. This is nothing new to the barrage of Bush, Argos or similar cheaply priced brand radio CD players that have the LCD screen as standard.
Sadly the sound quality isn’t going to win any awards though. The problem with the BB211 is that it isn’t worth the name that Tesco have tried to market the radio to. It doesn’t “boom” since it lacks any bass function and for the most part, the sound that emits from the silver painted speakers are very tinny. It isn’t ever going to hurt your ears in terms of volume output though – even if the sound is tinny, when the volume is set low, the BB211 makes a brave stab at putting out music whenever required and does what it preaches, despite the poorly chosen “boom” aspirations and what a pity that even if the speakers are tinny, there isn’t a stereo/mono switch or even a bass boost button that could improve the overall sound. When the small silver half moon dial is slid all the way to the max though, the BB211 has a tendency to crackle. In a busy room, it is just about possible to get the sound apparent around you when the volume control is nearly at the maximum level before the familiar beginnings of a crackle can just be heard from the squashed-look silver speakers. Further simplicity of tuning the radio in is left to another silver half moon dial and this time and there’s really no need to wonder what radio station you are dialing in, since the station numbers have been painted on the half moon dial that sprouts out the right hand side of the radio. Clearly whoever makes this radio for Tesco have really kept the costs down and have done away with a FM/AM viewable station/band window with a dial marker. In this respect then, you really get what you pay for – with one little extra surprise hiding around the back!
When I was looking at the battery option, where in this radio’s case you have to use 6 large 1.5 volt round batteries, I noticed a little jack hole that I thought may well serve up as a headphone jack. Sadly, this is a downside from the off as the BB211 doesn’t have a headphone jack. Instead, the BB211 does offer up a very handy Auxiliary In jack. This effectively gives you the option to put an iPod or any mp3 player to the little “boom box” although you would need to carry or have an Aux cable with you at the time with the small heads at each end. Not only connecting an iPod, in theory you could hook up a Sony CD Walkman that has a boost button, but then you’ll be privy to whatever sound is emitted through the Tesco’s speakers. Any device could be used with this system as a result of the Auxiliary in function, infact as long as you have a headphone jack in your device, the associated cable and be prepared to put up with some additional bulk when the devices are connected!