JBL On Time 400iHD - HD Clock Radio with iPod Dock - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-06-2008, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently purchased a JBL On Time 400iHD radio. There appears to be little info on this model available so here's my review...

List price is $300 but I got it for $200 from Amazon with free shipping.

It comes with clear plastic universal dock adapters. While the box and documentation don't mention the iPhone, it does come with a dock adapter made for the iPhone. It sits on top of the radio and includes a one inch tall support tab behind the phone when docked.

The iPhone charges as expected but is otherwise not recognized by the 400iHD. iPods are supposedly accessible from the radio, with the ability to browse playlists and control playback, even from the remote. This functionality doesn't work with the iPhone. The iPhone's screen can still be used though so it is possible to control playback from there and have it come out of the speakers. With a first gen iPhone, cell traffic has yet to be audible while listening to HD Radio. While not listed as being iPhone compatible, it appears to have adequate shielding to prevent the typically audible cell activity.

HD Radio tuning seems good but I don't have any other models to test in the same location. There are spring clip connectors for an included AM loop antenna. It has a F-connector for either the included FM single-pole or di-pole antennas.

The screen is a blue-backlit monochrome LCD with adjustable brightness and contrast. Even at the lowest setting, it illuminates my bedroom at night. I can't yet decide if I'll be able to keep it next to my bed as my alarm clock as originally intended. The light is noticeable through closed eyelids.

The screen simultaneously displays: station frequency and FM-HD# extension when applicable, station call letters and HD# extension when applicable, an iPod connected status indicator, an HD radio indicator, and HD radio signal strength bar graph, time in either 12 or 24 hour format, artist, song name, and date. With all this information, the time is a only about 1/3" high, visible from 2 feet or closer at night without my glasses.

The buttons on the radio and on the remote are... horrible i'll have to admit. They don't always respond even when pressed fully and deliberately. It behaves like a lagging computer that doesn't always recognize input. At least 25% of all button presses are completely ignored. Sometimes I'll press the button again only to have the clock catch up and quickly perform the action twice rather than just once.

When setting the time this is especially aggravating. It doesn't let you hold down the up or down button, instead every minute has to be a separate button click, some of which don't register. Manually tuning the radio is also not possible by holding down a button. Instead each .2 frequency change must bee clicked separately, with some of the clicks not registering. Quick button clicks are less likely to work.

Other functionality is inconsistent as well. The radio seek is a great example. Sometimes it'll land on a station and exit scan mode, other times it'll stay on the station momentarily and then scan again. I'll hit the station I want, check if the scan is still on, and hit the scan button again to cancel the scan. Sometimes this causes the radio to scan again, sometimes it stops scanning. The same is true with HD radio scanning.

The button layout is horrible at best. One of the most commonly used buttons is the right arrow button (labeled with the 90 degree down and left arroww commonly used on querty keyborads for enter). However there is a seperate enter button that is more prominently labeled on the remote but never used in the clock interface, only by the iPod interface. On the clock, this most commonly used button is arranged as the right button in basically a pad of four directional arrows. Yet this pad of direction arrows isn't used to initiate much of the functionality for which the button is used in conjunction with. On the remote this button is placed it in the middle of 24 identical buttons arranged in a perfect grid. It isn't in the corner, isn't a different shape or size, and is completely counter intuitive. It's hard to explain, but it feels like if someone moved the "enter" button on a normal computer to a random and inconvenient location, like where the "7" key key is located. Imagine how inconvenient that would make computer usage. That is what the using the 400iHD feels like.

Otherwise, the onscreen menu system for setting the clock, alarms, and other settings is quite logical. If only the buttons to access it were located more logically.

Alarm functionality is nice. You can choose: everyday, weekdays, weekends, day, or once. Four seperate alarms can be set seperately, each configured for a particular radio station or iPod playlist (allegedly, i haven't got it to work with an iPhone).

Sleep functionality is present but the interface is clunky. You can't just press it to turn the radio on for the configured time period. Instead you must power up the radio and then click the button and choose a time duration with the non responsive up and down arrows and then the hidden enter button. Certainly not as convenient as hitting the button and getting an hours worth of sound.

Switching between AM/FM/iPod/Aux is cumbersome as well. Instead of individual source buttons or a single button to toggle between them. You have to invoke a source selection menu, then use the up and down keys, then use the right arrow key. Once again, because the buttons are not reliable, this makes changing sources ridiculously complicated.

Sound quality is reasonable for a clock radio. It uses something called "COE" and "OCT". "COE (COMPUTER OPTIMIZED EQUALIZATION) The JBL On Time 400iHD system equilization is computer optimized to provide rich, complete sound stage." and "OCT (OPTIMIZED COMPRESSION TOPOLOGY) a proprietery compression technology to ensure clean, accurate sound at high output levels."

The power chord is three pronged and includes a AC/DC transformer. The radio can be detached from this so that the cord can be fed through a pencil sized hole drilled in a headboard if need be.

Battery backup is provided by 3 AAA batteries.

The HD Radio has a "tag" button, allowing you to tag the currently playing song. It transfers the info to the docked iPod and is intended for later purchase/download in iTunes. Since it doesn't work with an iPhone, I was unable to test this functionality.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about my purchase. I typically only listen to two stations, and mostly only when getting up in the morning or falling asleep at night. For this it is excellent, sound quality is superb for this type of use. I just wish that the clock functionality and usability were better. The lack of iPhone control doesn't bother me since I was interested only in the dock for charging at night.

Certainly not the most eloquently authored review, but hopefully of use to others considering this HD Radio. Let me know if more details or clarification could be of use. I'd be happy to post more if there is interest.
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-11-2009, 07:45 PM
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Does yours display the next alarm set on the main display? As far as I'm aware, it is suppose to but mine doesn't. Is there maybe something I am missing or do you think I might have a defective unit.
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-14-2009, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
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It doesn't show that an alarm is set until it is within a few hours of that alarm. I think that this makes the feature almost useless.
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-14-2009, 07:56 PM
 
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-15-2009, 05:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Just to be clear...
That picture (posted by JBLsound4645) is of the original JBL On Time, not the JBL On Time 400iHD. All of the commentary above may or may not apply.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-17-2009, 10:00 AM
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Does anyone else have a problem with the 400iHD where the iPod stops working with the remote and stops accepting tags? The only way I can get the remote to control the iPod again is to pull the plug and reboot the 400iHD.

I'm using it with an iPod Touch 1st gen.
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-17-2009, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
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I got it to control my iPhone once on the very first day. Since then, even with reboots, it is not possible to interact with the iPhone via the radio. Granted, it was never advertised as iPhone compatible.

While I like the sound quality and overall design, I am less and less impressed each day.

Somehow it no longer knows the day of the week. Weekday and weekend alarms no longer work as intended. Since this is dependent on the date, I double checked the date including MM/DD/YYYY format considerations. Everything checked out... except for the alarm working reliably that is.

Does you battery backup work for preserving the time? I'm beginning to think I have a defective unit.

Also, what are your thoughts on button responsiveness? Both on the radio itself and on the remote.
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-12-2009, 02:51 PM
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Just purchased this dock for my daughter. She was also only able to control the iPod Touch (2nd Gen) with the remote the first day. We can control an iPod nano without any problems. Contacted JBL/Harman and they sent us a new remote. Same problem. I'm probably going to return this unless someone has come up with another answer to this problem.
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