After a last minute shop getting gifts for all, I decided I was fed up using my mobile phone as means to wake me up in the morning since my term time address has my trusty Philips radio alarm clock purchased in January 2008.
When I bought my mum a Sony DAB radio alarm for Christmas last year I wondered if the price had dropped since I was looking for something a bit cheaper than £90. Sadly the price for that particular model is still the same.
Purchased at Scottish Hydro for £17-99, the Sony radio alarm clock ICF C318 seemed to be my lucky day as I try to buy what I've been brought up with where brands are concerned and Sony and my family go back a long way for quality and design. Having very poor eye sight, the major factor for choosing this model wasn't just the large LED's on the front of the radio but also the price.
Out of the box the squat and predominately silver Sony doesn't look old fashioned lent by its novel dual alarm dial controls left and right hand side located on both sides and a myriad of grey buttons on the top with black and green/orange labelling. Measuring approximately 14cm by 14cm with a height of just 5cm this is a very compact radio alarm clock and I'm pleased it can fit on my tiny bedside table. Sometimes with a design like this - where there is the advantage of having two alarms or the choice of waking up to radio - there can be tendency for clocks to appear over the top and complicated. Sadly for Sony I had to look up the manual simply because on the box it advertises that this clock in particular as DST - or Daylight Saving Time and not Radio Controlled as I assumed.
Nothing wrong there, simply a misunderstanding, but the clock once plugged in showed a few codes I wasn't expecting, particularly in light of the fact that Sony's user manual shows this product as being an Australian market clock rather than something reserved for the UK despite the UK plug fitted to it! After spending a couple of minutes with the manual it was therefore easier to set the clock than anticipated since its factory default setting is Eastern Standard Time (EST) and its DST feature means it will change automatically because the built in calendar (shows day/month/year) at a touch of a button will sense the change of season and day thus automatically correcting the time. Sony should really just have made this into a radio signal clock for all the bother you have to go through if you read the manual and although you can set the clock manually which you eventually have to, the controls for doing it seem a bit too pointless in my opinion.
To set the alarm for example seems easier than it is to set the time. The two dials responsible for each alarm allow you to adjust the time quickly and efficiently. They only turn up one notch up or down whereas setting the time involves the usual of speeding through LED's as quickly as possible thanks to weak feeling plus and negative type controls. Forget the facility of 24 hour clock times either; this clock radio can only handle 12 hour clock times and it has an old fashioned AM and PM differentiated set of lights to show whether it is day or night on the front fascia.
The back up power is courtesy of a flat single large lithium battery, similar to ones albeit smaller you'd find in a watch. Against the more old fashioned "block" 1.5V battery, it is good to see Sony have moved with the times here and the battery fitted to this radio clock ensures both alarm settings and time will not be lost if there's a power cut; a factor that doesn't occur with the old style battery which only just saves the time set. Over the more traditional battery, the flat disc also provides up to 250 days use with normal use.
Both alarm sirens are quite loud and as such I don't like waking up to induced headaches, the only bonus being here that the alarms won't grate my ears as much as the Philips' single alarm. However unlike dual alarm radios I've had in the past, the Sony will allow you to set the alarm at one time whilst the other alarm can be set for another time thereafter; so handy for those who want a few more hours of sleep. Of course with a standard alarm clock you can do that in ordinarily with the snooze function and on the Sony it has been upgraded to increase your time in between being woken and catching more shut eye per 8 minutes to up to an hour if you want!
The radio function gives the choice of an FM or awful AM radio wave bands and can be chosen by a switch on the right hand side of the radio at the back. There's a main ribbed slider at the same side that acts as the radio band tuner dial but it took me a while to find the volume, which is set behind it and in a smaller size. To say that Sony left details like the basic controls as an afterthought here would be an understatement and I miss the more basic priced Philips here for its major controls set on top. Some controls are typical Sony rubberized in tactile finishes for example whilst others are set plastic buttons that annoyingly don't always function the first time.
Luckily for clarity the green LED's are at least calming and are massively displayed with three brightness settings. On the lowest setting the green LED's don't cast a large aura, which is a good sign that Sony have sat up and paid attention to.
Now where sound quality is concerned, the Sony ICF C318 makes a good attempt for all that it has one, mono single speaker. Not too tinny and bright, at times depending on which radio band wave you're listening to, on AM it comes across as too muffled whilst on FM, a better balance of tone and bass. The only downside is that the radio dial itself is unlit which is pointless in the dark if trying to tune into another radio station.
Dressed in soft edges and a welcomed compact size, the Sony ICF C318 radio clock radio is a good idea that only falls down on quality and that's surprising for a major brand. Trying too hard is all that Sony has achieved here and they should address the quality and buttons as well as all round efficiency, particularly if they want to sustain their reputation. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
Lately my partner and I have realised we finally need a new alarm clock, having to keep waking up in the night to check the time as our current one didn't have a reliable alarm was getting beyond a joke, especially when my partner needs to be before 5am on a Friday.
We shopped around in Bristol at the weekend to find a new one, not wanting to spend the Earth but at the same time wanting to find a clock that would actually get us out of bed in the morning, not at easy task with us believe me.
We ended up in the Sony Centre after discounting all other stores due to cost. I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised to find the nattily named ICF-C318 on sale for just £12,99. We asked the sales assistant to give us a demonstration as there was no way I was going to buy a clock without checking it was easy to use. The chap had to find the manual for it but once he did it took just a couple of minutes to set the time and explain how the alarm function worked. I was impressed so was more than happy to part with my (or should that be our?!) cash.
To put it simply this clock is pre-set at the factory when it's made meaning when you plug it in it automatically displays the correct time, a fantastic feature I think.
In addition setting the alarm is also a doddle, there are two alarms so you can set one for yourself and a later (or earlier) one for your partner. To set either you simply turn the corresponding button to the alarm mode you want, either buzzer or radio then turn a click wheel at the side of the unit to select the time you want the alarm to go off. The thing I hated about our old clock was that you had to hold the button down to change the time which was a very slow and painful procedure, with this clock the click wheel takes seconds to select the time plus you can go backwards if you miss the time you want.
The buzzer is loud and clear plus the brightness of the display can also be altered all with the touch of a button. I think for £12,99 we got a bargain plus it looks good to boot!