I’ve been using the same alarm clock for a long time now. It’s decent: big digital display, radio, dual alarms, battery back-up so it keeps time even if the power goes out. But it’s been around probably longer than iPods have existed, so there’s one thing it doesn’t have: an iPod dock. Up until fairly recently, that didn’t bother me much because, hey, I didn’t have an iPod either. But in the past few years I’ve gotten an iPod touch and my wife recently switched to an iPhone — but we haven’t really used them for listening to music or podcasts except while driving (using an FM transmitter dongle).
I got the chance to try out the Tick Tock alarm clock from Edifier: it’s a cute little alarm clock made to recall the shape of a classic alarm clock, except the “bells” on top are really stereo speakers. It has a blue digital display (I think it would have been cute to have an analog display option) which auto-dims, and you can set up to 5 alarms on it.
One nifty design detail is that the iPhone/iPod dock, located at the bottom of the face, swivels away out of sight when it’s not in use. So if you’re just using it as a clock or listening to the radio (FM only), there isn’t an empty dock sitting there collecting dust (and looking ugly). It is kind of odd, though, that once you dock an iPhone, it blocks the face of the clock. My iPod touch fired up the World Clock app automatically — but I couldn’t figure out what made that trigger and sometimes when I was trying to get it to play music it kept starting up the clock app instead. The main difficulty is that when the screen is obscured, you can’t see what audio input you’ve selected: radio, iPod, or auxiliary. (There’s a standard 3.5mm audio jack in the back in case you want to hook up some other audio input device to the clock.)
The clock will also automatically synchronize the time to your iPhone or iPod. The instructions mention that you can optionally control the FM radio with the iPod’s FM app, but I guess that’s on things like the iPod nano, which has an FM tuner.
The interface is fairly easy to use, though I think the radio controls could have been more intuitive if they hadn’t been working to minimize the number of buttons on it. Also, it takes some getting used to which button does what between the function and input buttons, which are on the back of the clock — you just reach around and hit them, but sometimes I hit the wrong one by mistake. The one other odd choice they made was with the playback/volume controls (the large round button at the top). Like the classic iPod controller, the center is Play/Pause and you can push left and right to skip backward and forward, respectively. However, pushing “up” (toward the back of the clock) decreases the volume and pushing “down” (toward the front of the clock) increases the volume. I guess technically because of the slope of the clock, it really is “down” toward the back of the clock, but when you’re looking at the face of the clock and reaching over to push the buttons, it’s non-intuitive.
I really like the look of the clock though: it’s compact and charming, but still manages to pump out a lot of sound. It’s not going to replace a larger speaker if you’re having a party (and I doubt it’ll impress serious audiophiles) but it’s certainly fine for waking you up in the morning or listening to podcasts in your home office. It’s compact and will fit on a side table easily. You will have to deal with a power cord, of course.
The clock comes in black, white, or beige — too bad it doesn’t come in avocado and mustard yellow — and sells for about $80. There is also a version without the iPod dock that connects via Bluetooth, and another that can take either an SD card or USB thumb drive and play music from them. The Tick Tock can be purchased directly from Edifier or you can find it on Amazon.
Wired: Cool retro-looking shape, hide-away iPod dock, nice big sound from a small footprint.
Tired: iPod/iPhone blocks the clock face; volume controls seem reversed.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a sample of the Tick Tock for review.