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Bush CRA03WHT Clock Radio

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    1 Review
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      13.09.2011 17:27
      Very helpful



      Ok clock, awful radio. Pass.

      A digital clock radio is the sort of essential I am loathed to live without, and as such I have bought several over the years in different countries. This one therefore stands out as being one I DIDN'T buy...but since it's the one my mother bought and left me in exchange for the one of mine she cheekily pinched, it's still come into my possession.

      The first thing you notice, or perhaps the first things, are the size and colour. I am used to black clock radios, and this one is white (it looks a little silver in the picture, but the WHT in the name confirms this is the white version, albeit with some silver accents). It is also smaller and more curved than the large rectangular boxes I am used to - perhaps useful for smaller bedside tables though mine would accommodate one much larger. This, combined with the yellow digits (rather than the traditional red) meant I wasn't sure I would be able to see it as easily. I like radio alarms because you can read them without having to switch on a light or in fact do anything other than open your eyes. I do think red digits are easier to read, perhaps because that's what I've always had, but I don't have much trouble deducing from a quick glance at this whether it's approaching morning or whether I really need to get myself back to sleep. The resolution and contrast are not wonderful, but they're no awful either.

      I rarely use alarms to wake myself up, because I tend to awaken naturally ages before I need to, but on some occasions, such as important work days or interviews, or when I am travelling and need to be on time, I will set an alarm as a safety net. This is a simple alarm clock which offers the choice of waking up to radio or what they call 'buzzer'. This doesn't interest me, but I imagine some more reluctant wakers would prefer a beep to the lilting tones of Chris Moyles or the Today Programme as the former is more difficult to sleep through. Because the buzzer is an option on the same dial as the radio volume, you cannot adjust its volume - so you can have quiet, medium or loud radio, but only the default buzzer volume.

      Since I acquired this radio rather than buying it, it was plugged in and ready to go so I didn't have the benefit of the instruction book. Luckily, it's easy to work. On the left hand side you choose your setting of Off, On or Auto (which means alarm). There's also a dial to adjust the volume. This is a bit fiddly and you can't make subtle increases or decreases, but you can definitely get it to a level in the range of what you need to wake you up (and the loudest is indeed very loud - though mine seems a bit temperamental and if you scroll past super loud, it actually gets quieter on the last few turns of the dial).

      The other side is similar, but this time the switch is to toggle between MW or FM radio, and the dial is for the tuning of this. On the top of the clock you can find the speaker, and additional buttons for setting the time and the alarm time. These are your standard digital hour and minute buttons meaning if you overshoot you need to go round again. What is of some interest is the couple of additional buttons on top. Marked 'Al. off' and 'Sleep', I'm yet to work out what either of them do, as the alarm is switched off using the button on the left side, and there is a big Snooze button on the front which should take care of anything else.

      Given the size of the clock radio, it's no surprise that everything is in miniature, and the buttons are no exception. They are not hard to work if you are careful and watch what you are doing, but they are small and larger fingers could easily press more than one at once as they are so close together.

      This is a mains operated clock radio and the cord to the plug is a respectable length so you can angle it exactly how you want it towards your bed. Unfortunately this is one of the few good things and there are several other issues that have affected my star rating. The connections seem really loose inside - when I switch it onto 'Auto', sometimes a light comes on on the front to alert me to this, and sometimes it doesn't which isn't reassuring if you're trying to check you've set it for the morning. Because I can't see the side, I angle it up so I can check I've got it on the right setting, and this alternately makes the light appear or disappear. I have the display set to the 24 hour clock, and I can't find any way to alter this which is fine if you know your 18:00 from your 23:30, but I would still expect to have the option of 12 hour display (with the typical PM light to show you it's afternoon).

      My biggest problem with this clock radio, however, is the quality of the radio. The aerial is an odd, exceptionally long wire, but no matter how I angle it, and no matter how delicately I play with the tuning dial, it's very rare I get anything but crackle and even if I do get it balanced before I go to sleep, somehow it always loses its tuning by the morning and it's back to fuzzy. It may not always have been like this, but it's not old and the various faults - from loose connections to finicky dials to impossible to tune radio are too much for me to tolerate. This works well as a digital clock or if you want to wake up to a buzzer, but for a clock radio it's missing one key element - the radio. It will wake you up but you couldn't use it during the day to listen to the radio for pleasure, as you'd only be able to pick up one word in ever 20 said.

      For an average price of £10 I think you could find much better options out there, so when I'm shopping for my house in the upcoming weeks I won't be getting one of these, and I'll also be steering clear of the Bush brand in general since this one has far from filled me with confidence. It appears cheaply made and poorly designed, and hence I don't think it warrants a second glance.


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