Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
In creating the follow-up to its original Wave radio/CD player, Bose was on a mission to keep the unit the same size while improving its sound quality, which can present a serious challenge when it comes to a compact piece of equipment that includes speakers. Bose also decided to replace the top-loading CD player with a swankier front-loading one and did away with all the buttons on the unit to enhance the Wave's sleek, minimalist styling and keep things as simple as possible. The new Wave is available in two colors: platinum white and slate gray.
A buttonless Wave means you have to use the included credit-card-style remote to control all of the unit's functions. That's mostly a good thing. The remote is well-labeled and easy to use, though it helps to make a quick study of the manual to make sure you're aware of certain buttons' dual purposes. For instance, when in radio mode, the Tune/MP3 buttons scan to the next/previous radio stations; in CD mode they allow you to navigate through folders on an MP3 CD. Meanwhile, the Play mode button selects various shuffle and repeat CD play modes but also turns on the bass-trimming Talk Radio mode when you're listening to stations that artificially boost low frequencies to make your favorite blowhards sound more authoritative.
You can store up to six AM and six FM stations into memory, and the Wave, like its predecessor, is a proficient clock radio that gives you the option of awaking to a CD or a radio station. In contrast to Bose's SoundDock for iPods, this model has an auxiliary input (minijack) so that you can not only connect an iPod but any other playback device as well, including a DVD player. On the back you'll also find a headphone input, a jack for an external antenna (not included), and a Bose Link jack that allows you to connect the Wave to select link-enabled Bose Lifestyle systems and turn it into a Zone 2 stereo speaker. (A separate cable is required to engage the Bose Link functionality.)
The only major drawback to having to control everything through the remote is that tiny remotes are easy to misplace or lose. Imagine the alarm going off and not being able to silence it right away or hit the Snooze button (the Sleep button on the remote) because your clicker mysteriously disappeared. Grrrr. We therefore recommend you purchase an extra remote (about $10) to have on hand in case the included one pulls a D.B. Cooper.