Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clock Radios: a Timeless Gift?

When was the last time you gave someone a clock radio? The only time most people think to give one as a gift is when their child or friend makes the precarious trek to college. However, after four years of being soaked in beer and getting thrown across the room, most clock radios have thrown in the towel. As far as thoughtful inexpensive gifts go, the clock radio wins. Sleep schedules are important. The Sony ICF-CD843V gives it’s user a better chance at promptness while allowing them to wake up to the method of their choosing (CD, radio, or buzzer). The CD-R/RW playback option allows one to be coaxed to consciousness while enjoying their own burned CD mixes or any CD. The Sony has 25 station presets and radio reception is strong via the wire antenna, which is a unique feature to find on a clock radio. Reviewing users on the fringe of larger areas found the radio could tune in stations that were previously unavailable to them. Along with radio, the unit’s digital tuner also tunes in TV audio and weather stations.

The sound quality was highly regarded among users as well, many noted the superior sound reproduction and powerful bass boost mode as being the deciding factor in whether or not to make the purchase. Having woken up to this clock radio first hand (many hotel chains have this model) I have to concur. The dual display of the alarm time and the actual time is useful and the alarm modes, themselves, are versatile. There’s nap mode, which lets you choose your nap duration (20 to 120 min) with one button access, while the main alarm stays set to your preferred wake time. The snooze setting functions similarly, one touch of the snooze bar gives you 10 minutes, press it again and you have 20 minutes, and so on, up to an hour. Again, you can do this without having to reset you alarm to a later time.

The major drawbacks of the Sony ICF-CD843V are the lack of battery back up, the odd shape, and the LCD display.It doesn’t read well at an angle. Conversely, the LCD does have a brightness adjustment so it won’t disturb users that are sensitive to light while dozing off. The unit’s shape is touted by Sony as being space saving, but the lack of a battery back up is pretty unforgivable. Why would Sony overlook this key feature? Battery backup has been a major feature of clock radios since they were first introduced. Maybe, Sony is betting gift givers, and gift receivers will be so distracted by the other great features that they will overlook this shortcoming. Plus you can always buy a battery back-up.