Overall I like the Sanyo better. The ability to conceal the built-in iPod dock when not in use is nice, and the fact that it all fits together in one elevated stand makes it compact and usable in quite a small space. The Philips is simply bulkier, with separate speakers, central unit, and external iPod adapter. The Sanyo is in a higher price bracket though, so it's not entirely a fair comparison.
The Sanyo DTA-2680 is an audio system with built-in iPod dock available in Canada. Unusually, there is no indication that it is available in the United States; it is not listed on the Sanyo USA site. I got mine from Sears.ca on sale for C$165, normally it's C$200.
The Sanyo has a very slim-looking vertical aspect (although this is only when viewed from the front, the speakers are actually about 3" / 7.6cm thick at their deepest part). It is also very high-gloss black plastic, which gives it a sleek appearance.
(Although it's not really clear from the above pictures, the design is an elliptical plastic base, with the main central unit attached to and elevated above it, and the speakers hanging on each side of the elevated central unit.)
The industrial design is very nice: there is an iPod dock built into the ring at the front, and it has a cover to conceal it when not in use. (It comes of course with the usual plastic parade of iPod "adapters".) The iPod is plug and go - there are no cables to attach.
The Sanyo can control the iPod menu through rather obscure buttons on its remote. "Prog" will bring up the iPod menu. "ST/MO" will select an item (the same action as clicking in the centre of the scroll wheel during normal iPod operations). "Preset/Folder" up/down will let you navigate up and down in the menu.
Play and Pause of course work as expected.
The dock powers and charges the iPod. There is no display of the playing songs on the unit itself, it just says "iPod". (Of course you can see what's playing on the iPod itself.)
Overall the interface is very mode-based. It will not automatically switch modes. For example if it is playing the FM radio and you press the CD Door open button, nothing will happen. You have to switch into CD mode (e.g. by pressing CD play) before the door button will work.
The power button is very confusing. It has an illuminated LED that is only lit when it is in Standby mode. This is the opposite of the way most computer power buttons work. It has one of those annoying scrolling displays that shows "HELLO" when you power it on and "GOODBYE" when you switch it into standby.
The speakers are detachable and the entire unit can be wall-mounted, the mounting hardware and a card showing the exact position to drill the holes is included.
The packing is very efficient, it's a surprisingly large box. Like many new packing designs, it maximizes space - so don't throw out the styrofoam packing - a lot of the accessories are tucked into specific parts of the foam, including the iPod adapters which I struggled to find until I realised they were packed into slots in the back of one of the packing foam sides.
The CD player is vertical, the action on the door is very nice, it's motorized and slides up to uncover the CD spindle, then back down for playing the CD - although as with any mainly-plastic motorized part I worry that it will wear out.
Also while the glossy black finish is nice, it is also a fingerprint magnet.
The central control is a rather deceiving circular knob, with a glowing blue ring around it. It definitely draws one's attention, and may draw children's hands as well, because it is not actually a turnable knob at all, and I worry it may break if someone tries too hard to turn it. It is instead a "tilt-pad", with up and down for volume, left and right for back/fastforward-skip or tuning the radio. As you will see below, the Philips also has a "circular-appearing but not actually circular" interface (I think they must both be taking design inspiration from the iPod scroll circle wheel control).
The Philips MCM118D/37 unit tends to look like three cubes in images, but the speakers and unit are also actually quite deep: while the faces are 6" square, they are 8" deep. The unit I have is white with a dull surface finish, gives a bit of a lower-end feel than the Sanyo.
Philips offers several similar models, including the MCM108DB/37 (Black) in addition to the model I evaluated
The Philips connects to an included external iPod adapter, using USB and audio cables.
I was only able to do very basic Play/Pause and Skip to Next or Previous, I didn't find a way to navigate the entire iPod menu just through the remote.
The unit I got was a refurbished one from FactoryDirect.ca, I wasn't able to find any online stores selling it new in Canada. Unfortunately, this will be my last experiment with refurbished equipment, as the CD player doesn't work. It's horizontal, with a manually opened and closed door on the top of the main unit. The laser is of course motorized on a little stepper motor so that it can move back and forth to read the various CD tracks. Unfortunately, it gets stuck. (I don't know whether this is an inherent problem, a problem specific to my refurb unit, or something that I can fix with the appropriate lubricant.)
The main control is a shiny metal circular ring around the circular backlit LCD display. It mimics the scroll wheel on my iPod nano, but in a confusing way - first of course in that it is not of course a touch-scroll wheel, it is just a set of four buttons, and the second being that the top and bottom buttons are switched from an iPod - on an iPod, top is MENU, bottom is Play/Pause whereas on the Philips the top is Play/Pause and the bottom is Stop.
When the iPod is in use, the display just reads iPod (the same as the Sanyo) - you have to look on the iPod screen to see what is playing.
I do like that the radio tuning is done using a rather unusual wheel control in the upper right corner of the main unit.
In addition to supporting the iPod, a separate adapter is also provided to attach a Philips GoGear audio player.