Measuring 4 by 7.5 by 6 inches (HWD) and weighing about four pounds, the Recepter is available in platinum gray, charcoal, and polar white finishes. The attractive, minimalist design features just two buttons and two knobs (volume and tuning) on the front face, with additional controls on top. The radio's easy-to-read LCD shows the time, radio station frequency, settings for the two separate alarms, and station preset number, while a two-position brightness control adjusts for day or night lighting. You can quickly zero in on your favorite stations by twirling the tuning knob, a much easier alternative to the usual up and down buttons. Programming was also fuss-free; setting the time and storing up to 20 preset AM/FM stations were simple, intuitive operations. Setting the alarms was similarly effortless--you can wake to a tone, the radio, or both. Storing and setting as many as 20 preset AM/FM stations was also dead simple, and we appreciated the ability to quickly access our favorite stations after living with the preset-less analog dials on competing table radios from Cambridge SoundWorks and Tivoli Audio.
Aside from the antenna connectors, the Recepter's connectivity is limited to a single auxiliary line-in 1/8-inch minijack. Still, that's enough for the radio to double as a speaker for an iPod (or any other device with a headphone jack). It's also a recent addition; earlier iterations of the Recepter didn't have it. And while the Recepter seems to have a small internal battery to keep the time during short power outages, it can't retain station presets or alarm settings--despite the fact that Boston advertises that feature on its Web site.
The Recepter's electronics supply nonadjustable equalization to the single (mono) speaker, allowing it to produce a wide range of bass and treble frequencies. But the sound quality is so good, you'll barely notice that the sound is monaural rather than stereo. The Recepter won decisively in a face-off with our previous favorite tabletop radio, Tivoli Audio's Model One. The Recepter's sound is much weightier, with a more solid bass response and more natural sounding midrange. The diminutive radio is loud enough to fill even fairly large rooms with sound, though the Cambridge SoundWorks Radio 705 was able to get significantly louder (albeit with much less detail and sonic precision). The Recepter's AM and FM reception is way above average; it pulled in difficult-to-receive college and public radio stations cleanly, with minimal background static. If you want even better reception, you can string your own FM or AM antennas to the provided rear-panel jacks.
The Recepter is limited to standard AM and FM reception, plus whatever audio source you might want to plug into its auxiliary input. If you want more musical options, step up to the $300 Recepter HD (which adds digital HD Radio reception and a separate stereo speaker) or the $500 MicroSystem CD (a Bose-style CD radio). If, on the other hand, you're looking for a world-class clock radio, the Boston Acoustics Recepter is the pick of the litter.