Meridian F80 review

With looks like this, does performance really matter?

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Our Verdict

Distinctively multi-coloured and magnetic, this muscular DAB/CD/DVD ellipse eclipses the rest of the competition


  • Stylish and attractive

    Great audio quality

    Excellent usability


  • Picture quality not great

    Very expensive

Forget the fancy design, huge price tag and Ferrari yellow. Meridian is a serious British audio company and is promising that this, a versatile DVD player-cum-CD player-cum-DAB radio, will give us some serious audiophile sound quality.

And those claims are spot-on. This all-in-one CD and DAB radio system is a uniquely stylish contender for a place in your home because as well as being available in various colours, the F80 can also play DVDs.

Total ellipse

Under the ellipse (yellow on our test sample) lie stereo speakers with a subwoofer behind. A CD/DVD slot is underneath the speakers, which boast circuitry that allows down mixing of 5.1 surround sound from DVDs into 2.1 sound. At once the F80 becomes a space-saving device, but splash the cash and you'll surely want to give it pride of place.

We'd argue against portability despite its small size and carry handle - the F80 is a heavy-duty piece of kit and powered through mains, not batteries - so consider this to be a state-of-the-art system for a large kitchen, open plan area or study. Place it near a small TV and connect it up using the S-video output on the F80's (Ferrari logo-endowed) rear and you've got a splendid sound system and DVD player.

Its fabulous user interface is based around a large black screen with yellow graphics. There's actually six unlabelled buttons that don't seem to have any use until you toggle the 'home' button. Do so and you reveal different uses for those six buttons displayed above each, which range from controlling up to sixteen station presets to scrolling around DAB stations, swapping to FM or AM frequencies or displaying any manner of other information.

Simple functions can be controlled from a cute remote that sticks to metallic surfaces, but it's the mothership's stunning sound that truly gives the F80 its magnetic personality.

Reaching very high volumes with plenty of bass, we're struggling to think of a better performer with DAB radio and audio in general. There's even an option to tell the F80 where it is - in a corner, floor, shelf or freely place - and the width, tilt and bass can be adjusted to your tastes.

Vision on

On the visual side there are outputs for S-video and composite video so in no way can the F80 provide a HD Ready TV with anything like satisfactory picture quality, but picture quality is OK on a small TV.

Besides, DVD playback is only an extra feature and there's really nothing missing from the F80. Its intuitive controls, great build quality and sound could well warrant a slice if that city bonus.