Sharp XLHF202 Hi-Fi

Andy Shaw tests a Hi-Fi that will make your music sound great, whether it’s on a CD, phone or tablet.
M ost music is now purchased digitally and stored on phones and tablets. But there are still plenty of us who own CD collections we can’t live without and still want to play.
This compact Hi-Fi system from Sharp offers the best of both worlds. It looks like a standard mini Hi-Fi, with a control box that contains a CD player, and a pair of decent-sized speakers. But under a hatch on the top of the unit is a Lightning dock to connect a compatible iPhone or iPod, and a Pair button to get the Hi-Fi connected to other types of device using Bluetooth.

Sharp XLHF202 Hi-Fi

We tested the dock and the Bluetooth connection with both Apple and Android devices. Everything worked superbly, pairing quickly and playing through whatever app we chose, including radio apps, Spotify and audio from websites such as YouTube.
Most of the controls are accessed manually on the device, although the supplied remote can be used to pause, play or skip through tracks, if these functions are available in the app.
The Hi-Fi has a USB port that can be used to charge a device that’s otherwise connected by Bluetooth, or it can seek out and play music from a storage device.

However, there’s no facility for browsing folders and, when the stereo was presented with a single album during our tests, it didn’t manage to play the tracks in order. The device comes with two NFC (Near Field Communication) pads you can stick on or near it. These are compatible with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or better devices that include the technology. With these, you can connect to the Hi-Fi by simply laying the phone or tablet directly on the pad, rather than having to turn on and connect Bluetooth manually. However, it doesn’t connect to your network, so you can’t use it to stream music from a NAS or similar device. One huge bonus is that the sound is great. Each speaker is 50W, giving a combined output of 100W. This might not be enough to shake your house to its foundations, but it can fill a room with sound without distortion. If you’re used to playing music on your phone or tablet through a standard Bluetooth speaker (or even the speakers on the device itself) you’ll find a significant improvement in quality. It’s also good enough to do justice to your CDs, which makes it an excellent all-rounder.

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