I bought one yesterday and here are my intitial thoughts after about 24 hours of use. (first of all, I am using it in the bedroom for music and as a clock radio)
First, sound quality is good. I compared it at the store (tweeter equivalent), to the Boston Acoustics microsystem CD (no HD on this one) and the Boston Acoustics HD Receptor radio and it sounded the best of the three. (both for FM and CD). The prices of each were $600, $388 (just marked down from $499), and about $270. (the Receptor Radio does not have a CD player)
The build quality is also quite good. Built solid and looks the best of the three I thought, although clearly the biggest.
The two biggest issues I have are that it does not have a battery backup to run the clock and the alarm (the Boston Acoustics microsystem runs on a 9volt to power just the tone alarm and clock in the event of a power outage, and also has the supercapacitor to backup the settings). The Isonic has just the supercapacitor to back up settings. I live in Florida, and am subject to frequent power outages, so this is an issue.
The second issue that I think is important is the Alarm Volume is not settable. It uses the last volume that you used, so if you went to sleep listening to a cd at a soft volume, you may not hear your alarm in the morning. (the Boston Acoustics has independent alarm volumes for each alarm)
The menu system is fairly easy to use, but does make the device a bit more difficult to use than a typical alarm clock. I found the time that a screen or menu stays up a bit too short. I often would not decide or hit a button fast enough and the menu would change back to the home screen/clock too quickly). This may get a bit better once I learn all of the menus, but for things like selecting a radio station out of 10 presets, if you don't choose within about 5 seconds, the screen is gone.
I found the remote difficult to use in the dark. The buttons all feel alike and you cannot even tell easily whether you are holding the remote upside down/reversed. A backlight or strategic button placement or tactile shapes would go a long way to make this more of a bedroom friendly remote. I quickly programmed/learned all of the buttons to my MX-500 and think I will keep this little one in a drawer somewhere. (the Boston Acoustics microsystem cd does have a nice spot to keep the remote, under the fold-down faceplate. I would bet is is easy to misplace these little remotes, in addition to the difficulty using them in the dark).
I have not tried the external am antenna yet (just the internal) but wanted to hear if there were any HD am stations and if they really sounded like FM quality. Unfortunately I ran the AM dial and heard no stations at all. This compares to my 30 year old GE cheap $40 clock radio which got about 10 AM radio stations sitting in the same spot, also with no external antenna, I don't understand fully why a $5 cheapie radio usually has better AM sensitivity that either my $1200 Denon receiver (with external antenna) or this $600 radio, but obviously most people don't buy this for the AM (but occasionally there is the college football game I would like to listen to).
Most store bought cds play nicely, with quite good sound quality as mentioned above. (for the size unit). I have not tried any DVD's, but do not plan to hook this up to a monitor.
I did come across one store bought cd that would not play properly (multiple dropouts throughout the cd). I cleaned it with no improvement. There were no visible marks or scratches and it played on every other player in the house I tried (my dvd player and another cd player).
I tried creating 2 wma/mp3 cd's, and could not get it to read properly. I have never made an mp3 or wma cd, so I may not have done it properly (I tried both copying the folder to the cd, and using roxio cd creator to burn it as an audio mp3 disk. (both times the isonic saw it as a dvd, and did not play anything.
I put in a few cd's that I have burned (in cd format) and they played nicely and sounded quite good, even though most of them came from the mp3/wma licensed format originally.
The cd player is a bit louder than I would like as well. It makes a high pitched sound when it starts to read the disk, and is also audible at times during the quieter sound passages. For this price, I would have preferred quieter. (I guess, if you had the unit further from you, and not at the bedside, you might not hear it).
I am not sure why they chose to show text on HDFM and XM radio, but not on FM (at least I have not seen any yet, except the station caller ID only on HDFM.) I do not see the signal strength meter on plain FM either, but do on HDFM)
I would have liked a way to cycle through presets stations on the unit and on the remote. (perhaps using the channel up/down button on my MX-500. The only ways to choose preset stations seems kind of cumbersome, either hitting "preset" and then the number of the preset station, or by going on the unit to the preset menu, and tabbing down to the one you want. (each time having to start at the first entry).
I came across a glitch I cannot explain as well. I was testing the alarms this morning, and set alarm 1 for 7:30. It went off as scheduled on the tone alarm, as it was supposed to, but alarm 2 which was set for 6:15 and it went off a minute later (at about 7:31), and the alarm changed to the cd player. I will need a few more days of testing for this. (the second alarm was turned off at 6:15, but I set it to "on" when I set the other one to 7:30 at about 7:25 am)
I was wondering if anyone knows if the firmware/software is upgradable on this at any point if they fix or improve glitches (as it was on my other cd/dvd players).
Also, let me know if anyone finds a better external antenna. I have bought the crane reflect antenna, but have not gotten it yet. I will let you know if it improves reception when it arrives. So far, with the FM external that comes with it, most of the FM and HD fm stations have sounded pretty good. There is one station that comes in weakly that I would like to get better however.
For now.......I am going to keep this unit, but I did debate exchanging it for the BA microsystem CD to save $300 on a glorified alarm clock. (I still give it about an 8/10, but for this price, I would expect a 9 or 10). If I sound like I don't like the unit as a whole.....I do. It is overall fairly impressive. It is the most expensive clock radio I have ever bought, and is quite good, but could be in my opinion great, with only a few changes.
As an addendum I found the manual especially lousy. I do not see it mentioned, but found the easiest way to enter times for the clock and the alarms is to enter the numbers directly using the number buttons on the remote keypad rather than using the up/down button on the unit. (unfortunately, they did not seem to carry over this idea to radio station selection. The direct entry of numbers for radio frequency would be a plus as well, and was on my last $40 clock radio)