Panasonic's SL-SX271C meets all the criteria that you should expect from a portable CD player with a car adapter kit. It's lightweight, feature packed, and built to endure the rigors of the road.
To test the SL-SX271C's 40-second memory buffer, we deliberately dropped the player onto the floor from a height of two feet. The silver, plastic case bounced off the carpeting, flipped upside down, and did a belly flop onto the hard floor without skipping.
Impressed by this unit's display of durability and memory protection, it came as no surprise that the SL-SX271C also passed our road test. We plugged the supplied cigarette adapter into our car, slid the cassette adapter into the vehicle's built-in deck, and set the portable CD player on the dashboard. Ten miles and countless potholes later, the music never stopped or even so much as hiccupped. Panasonic's SL-SX27C makes it easy to forget you're listening to a portable music box that costs a quarter the price of a custom-installed CD player. The SL-SX27C is also more theftproof than an in-dash player; just unplug the adapters, slip the SL-SX27C into a handbag or attaché case and lock the car.
The SL-SX27C proved equally impressive when disconnected from a car. Panasonic thoughtfully includes a push button on the center of the CD tray that ejects discs so users don't have to pry discs loose with their fingertips. The battery door, located on the underside of the player, is a snap to open and close as well.
The left side of the compact player houses the headphone jack as well as a thin volume dial, which proved too tiny for an average-size thumb. A Hold switch prevents the player from turning on while it's stored in your backpack or purse. Resume, Random, and Normal switches allows manual access to these functions without relying on the LED and Left/Right disc-skip buttons.
The handsome top panel, with its LED display framed in metallic blue, sports an array of silver buttons, including antishock, skip-left and -right arrows, on/off, pause, and play. In addition, three tiny buttons activate memory/recall, repeat track/repeat all, and an equalizer.
The equalizer offers S-XBS (Super Extra Bass System), which enhances the dynamics of every musical genre from classical to rock. Panasonic also incorporates a Train equalization mode and suggests you use it "to avoid annoying other passengers with noise from your headphones while riding the train, or to reduce fatigue when listening for a long period of time." Unfortunately, the difference between Train and Normal equalization modes was just barely discernible.
The SL-S222's sound was impressive, thanks to Panasonic's acclaimed 1-bit MASH (multistage noise-shaping) technology and its comfortable headphones. The headphones outperformed the tinny, bass-anemic variety that come packaged with most portable CD players.
As for programming features, the SL-SX27C has them covered as well, enabling users to program up to 24 tracks in any desired order. Panasonic's plainly written, well-illustrated instructions, and intuitive user interface helped us program an 18-track CD in preferred order in less than 20 seconds.
- Impressive 40-second antishock protection
- Bass friendly headphones
- Attractive, ergonomic design
- Easy to program