This is a neat little clock radio - I've had mine for a couple of years now and have never had any reason to grumble.
I had owned a Pure digital radio before and had been pleased with it, so wanted the same functionality in the bedroom, especially as I like listening to BBC Radio 5 Live which my better half can't bear listening to on Medium Wave as she is crackle-intolerant. The same station on DAB is fine apparently so it seemed a sensible solution.
Tuning in was easy enough. It seemed to find all the available stations without any problems and it is easy to skip between them and to present your favourites.
Sound quality too is perfectly acceptable. It's a clock radio, so the quality is never going to be the same as a high-end hi-fi, but it does the job perfectly well given that it only has one speaker.
On its brightest setting, the clock display shines out like a lighthouse, illuminating the room almost better than our bedside light. But this is easily changed with a range of brightness settings varying from "searchlight" to "almost invisible"
The clock and date functions also sets themselves shortly after being powered up for the first time, or after a power cut. Which is great because manually resetting could get dull.
The alarm function is good. Four different alarm time settings can be programmed, each can be configured to weekdays, weekends only, daily or one-off settings. Each can also be programmed to sound FM, DAB or buzzer noises and - this is the really neat bit - you can set the volume you want it to come on to. So if you are the kind of person that likes to listen to the radio set on quietly to go to sleep, you can programme it to wake you up on a louder setting.
My only niggle is with the "one-off" setting which requires you to set the date as well as the time. By default it always comes up with today's date. Ok, that's useful if I wanted to set an alarm to wake me up from a cat nap during the day but mostly I want to set an alarm for tomorrow morning. So I'd have preferred it if it always went to tomorrow by default, especially if it's late at night and I'm setting the alarm for the next morning. It's never happened to me, but it would be easy not to notice the date and accidently set the alarm for the morning that has already passed.
Of course none of this is a problem when setting a regular alarm, but when do you most often want to set a one-off one - mostly when setting an alarm for a flight - so its a bit of an oversight.
But in general, its a very good product.
Nice looking machine and very easy to set up. In fact pretty much does it all by itself.The different alarm setting (week, weekend etc) are excellent. The sound is very clear.The only gripe is that all the buttons are on the top of the unit, when really all I want there (especially when dozy) are the sleep, snooze and reset button. Why the other buttons aren't relocated to the back of the unit is puzzling.
Sony always seems to try harder than others to design their products with a genuinely interesting design and finish. The XDR-C705DAB is no exception from its groovy shape to its cool-as-ice soft blue clock.
OK, it impresses everybody with its appearance, but does it work? The resounding response is "yes". Despite having just one internal speaker, the sound is remarkably rounded and deep - it is not affected by the usual tinny treble issues of most clock radios. I have listened for several hours and never felt tired of the sound. The volume will not go to an excessively loud level, so if you live next door to a mainline railway you may find you can't hear it from the adjacent room! For listening in bed, it is more than capable.
Like the previous reviewer, I found the initial DAB reception to be disappointing with only a limited number of stations available. However I powered it down and back on again and this time I got the full collection of channels as listed on the DAB website. With its crystal-clear reception and scrolling-text display, I rarely shift over to FM reception. This is a shame as the FM reception through the wire antenna is also excellent.
An absolute doddle to set up, lovely to look at, an impressive blue glow and great sound. Why would you buy any other DAB clock radio?!
Just before Christmas, my parents' Sony cube clock had given its last breath where its wake up functions were concerned; its sleep function button had recessed to no avail and changing the clock meant it had to be left in its original British Summer time mode as the buttons had also given way. There was only one thing for it; to find another Sony product given the fantastic devoted service our original clock radio had given for so many years (14!).
Like many companies these days it seems the old style analogue clock radio is on its way out unless it is priced and made to a budget. The age of DAB / Digital Audio Broadcasting technology has meant that cheaper radios are now appearing on the market, either from larger companies such as PURE or Grundig who were one of the first companies to launch a DAB radio and then names you've never really heard of such as Sound Tone and Acoustic Solutions who bring cheap offerings from supermarket and to companies such as Argos, Comet and Curry's who then bring out their own versions under so-called exclusive brands. Past experience has however told me that the better brand names are best to stick with; I've had cheap BUSH, Alba and Acoustic Solutions DAB clock radios and they never last due to the high power they contain, the heat they give off and poor signal reception. Which brings us back to the analogue radios because wavelengths are generally easier to trust if a DAB radio can't pick up its digital stations.
Like a few reputable brands, Sony has moved the game on. This radio allows you to choose between FM and DAB stations instantly without having to fuss about with a tuner dial. So what I hear you cry? Portable DAB radios have been doing that for years! Ah but very few bedroom clock radios exist which have both these functions and the Sony here has this feature plus a little more to offer to people who are looking for a classy design and some handy features for wake up.
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
* Model name: Sony XDRC705 DAB Clock Radio
* Large LCD black panel with blue background, white clock LED's with a choice of three dimmer settings.
* Front mounted speaker - Mono only.
* Buzzer alarm or FM radio alarm or DAB radio alarm functions.
* John Lewis price £49-00; online prices average to £59-99 and £99!
* Every day, Weekends, Week Days and "Just Once" alarm settings.
* Time and Date/Time only function display.
* Smart, compact, easy to use and read time/radio design; height of 11.5 cm by Diameter of 10cm and a width of 20cm.
The choice for another Sony however was initially limiting. It seems that no longer do Sony produce Cube designs that have always had an exciting appeal in the bedroom that can offer DAB technology.
Out of the box, the Sony XDRC705 model looks different from many radios around even though it is not cube shaped, it is elevated and rectangular from its bottom upwards. This is really what attracted me, because both my parents suffered from poor eyesight and needed something just as clear as their old Cube radio. Finding something with good clarity however has been time and patience. If there is one thing Sony knows how to do these days, it's how to make something so basic and ordinary good looking and slightly unique. So this extends to its black frontage with a clear clock face, cool Sea blue background when the clock gets switched on, whilst at the top around the black body white buttons adorn the top and are clearly marked which is a god send for anyone who has poor eyesight. Some may call this as extra padding in my review and this paragraph on the design may not matter to you, but if you hate receiving the glare of loud red or green LED's giving you the dazzling version of the time in the mornings, the cool whiteness of the Sony's white LED's are a refreshing change!
Not that my mother will take advantage of the buzzer function but the sound the Sony emits isn't too obtrusive to give a minor headache of the reminder of wake up. Although buzzers on radios are generally annoying and ear threatening, the Sony's buzzer is on average slightly better in quality than most on the market. What counts however is the fact that the clock settings and alarm settings are familiar to set - another factor to why I wanted to buy this radio rather than another company option.
Just like their Cube radio, setting the clock and alarms is quite intuitive with no need to put three or five fingers down to set the clock unlike past efforts. It only takes two fingers to set the clock whilst the alarm options are quite novel as they allow you to either set alarm for the whole week, the weekend or just one day if you happen to just want one day to wake up for a special occasion, early. Buttons are the way forward for Sony it seems, and there isn't any other dial or slider on this model as a result. Setting the clock, using the radio and volume can all be done through clearly marked buttons, which only need to be lightly pressed - something my mother needs a constant reminder of.
The DAB radio signals have been slightly strange during the Sony's break in period. Mounted to the right hand side of my parents' bedroom on a cabinet, the radio faces the north side of the house from its location and it has been difficult to get a station. Whilst this is not a problem for me, my mum loves the Pure Evoke radio I bought years ago and it picks up all DAB stations available in Scotland including the BBC stations and some as far as London based ones. As such the Sony has picked up a few, but not all of them and in the first couple of weeks of use, it did become frustrating that pockets of sound were becoming delayed with each stations, or would fade out automatically only for the default message to appear on the clock screen that the stations were unavailable. Oh yes, just like our Pure radio's lens, the Sony also gives a default scroll of worded information on the DAB radio station selected, and others can be selected through its push button tuning buttons whilst a 20 preset memory allows stations to be saved. But whilst the Pure's radio location is only just across from the master bed on another cabinet facing eastwards, the Sony in the North side took some initial time to pick up all the stations available rather than straight off with the Pure radio. It all goes to show that however expensive or technologically brilliant a DAB radio may be, it can't always be trusted to pick up stations whilst its location in the home is of great importance! Four months on and now angled towards the bed ironically, instead of flat against the wall, the Sony has now managed to get the same list of stations our Pure Evoke radio can pick up.
In FM mode however the signals are crystal clear (there is also a permanently fixed black "loose" wire which comes out the back for the FM radio) and it doesn't go without saying that the Sony has again, appealed to the ears of my parents in terms of sound quality. Just by pressing the radio change button you are taken to the FM world and like the DAB setting the Sony also carries its preset function of saving 10 FM stations.
Whilst the sound is muffled with no internal sound controls fitted and therefore has a sound quality built into it, the tone isn't too bright and there is a good balance of sound channels built into the Sony which makes listening to it, very appealing. I wish the same could have been said for my last cheap DAB radio which had a bright tone and very little else. Sony would however like to think that putting a speaker on the front means that you'll get to hear radio stations all that clearer, but I have to say that in light of this design it hasn't really made much of a difference of whether the speaker is located at the front or at the rear.
For the benefit of dust that is often evident on squarish clock radios however, the general clean finish on the Sony is excellent, rounded and set at angles where dust can't actually be seen. If anything gets on the front you don't polish it down with chemicals; simply wipe down with a moist cloth.
In all Sony have created a very fine qualitable DAB clock radio with a few features designed to make life easier. Of course it's not the most highly kitted out bedroom clock radio around but for the price of £50, its' compact and flush design should appeal to radio station lovers who can't get enough radio programmes at any time in the day. My mum is so impressed with the ease of this radio that she has ordered another one from John Lewis for use in the kitchen and for a woman who doesn't like the most technological things around, this is quite a surprise decision. Thanks Sony and Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008