Clock Radio
January 3, 2005 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for an inexpensive clock radio that meets a few criteria...Any help? [MI]

My current clock radio (an inexpensive Sony "Dream Machine") has several features that I like:

- It keeps fairly accurate time
- The radio is digitally tunable
- There are buttons to preset favorite stations
- It's compact

However, the one feature that doesn't work is the radio itself, or rather the tuner. The radio includes a simple wire antenna, but it struggles to pull in the 100K watt station down the street. (I live in San Francisco, in sight of Sutro Tower, and can only get KQED, KFOG, etc. with lots of static). I have no problem with listening to any local station on my home stereo.

I'm not looking for a Bose-quality solution, just something simple with a good radio for waking up to, and a digital tuner.

Does such a beast exist?
posted by neurodoc to Shopping (8 answers total)
Are you sure it's the radio? Some broadcast antenna's are constructed in a way that causes reception to be very bad for those very close to it.
posted by fvw at 1:36 PM on January 3, 2005

At the risk of derailing the thread, can I piggyback a similar question? I've been wondering for the last few days whether any of these alarm clock/radios offer a line-in jack so that I could attach my iPod. Anybody know of one of those?

BTW, Neurodoc, I just saw a Timex clock with digital tuning (and "nature sounds" generator) at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I wished it had 'thunderstorm' as an option, but 'surf' was fine. I didn't check out its radio sound quality.
posted by kimota at 1:36 PM on January 3, 2005

I'll offer a suggestion first that you may or may not find useful: my computer was my alarm clock for a very long time. In many ways it was ideal. You can have it play anything, from recorded music, a radio station (if your favorite has an internet site or if you have an FM tuner, as I did), it's highly configurable, etc. This is no longer an option for me since my wife can't stand to have a computer in the room where we sleep, says it's too noisy. I say, people *pay* for white noise generators.

I'm half looking for an alarm clock myself. I really miss the capability to set multiple alarm schedules. For example, with my computer, I could say, Rusty has to get up at 7:30am M-F and 9am Sat-Sun. Sandy gets up at 7:45 M-F except she has to get up at 6am on wednesday and no alarm on the weekends. I was able to set individual over-rides, like, tomorrow Rusty gets up at 7am and Sandy gets up at the regular time, 7:45. At the moment we have a crappy alarm clock that requires that I re-set it when I get up to my wife's ideal time and at night I have to set it back to my time. Yes, we could get 2 alarm clocks.
posted by RustyBrooks at 3:11 PM on January 3, 2005

Response by poster: Kimota: This radio seems to match both of our needs. Anyone familiar with it?

RustyB: I like the computer idea, but it sort of by-passes the "compact" requirement.
posted by neurodoc at 4:18 PM on January 3, 2005

Heh, well a computer is the ultimate compact alarm clock -- if you already have a computer in your bedroom for other reasons ;) A friend of mine made an alarm clock for a digital circuits class many many years ago. His had multiple alarm times (8). I don't know why this feature is so inexplicably missing from regular alarm clocks.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2005

We got the GE 7-4894A a little while ago, and it meets most of your criteria...except for the digital tuning. (Which is really my only gripe with it.)

It's really a pretty impressive little machine, for $25, once you get used to it--not only can you set two different alarms, and make either one radio or beeping, but after you set what day of the week it is, it's got a "Weekend Cancel" switch that can tell it not to go off on the weekends. It also has a little "Daylight Savings Time" switch that you just flip on or off when that changes, volume ramp for when either kind of alarm goes off, and a "lock" setting that prevents you from mistakenly changing the time when you meant to change the alarm. Reception's pretty good, too. (And it's got a battery back-up to save your settings if the power goes off.)

Of course, all those features lead to my _wife's_ main gripe--that it's pretty complicated for an alarm clock. Still, if you're a gadget-lover, it's something to think about.
posted by LairBob at 5:17 PM on January 3, 2005

I'm half looking for an alarm clock myself. I really miss the capability to set multiple alarm schedules.

RustyB - if you have a Palm, get BigClock.
posted by Wet Spot at 7:50 PM on January 3, 2005

Random thoughts:
- Have you tried moving the radio around the house to get reception in other areas? Just to see if it really is the aerial.
- If you get a *cheap* model, it will have cheap components, inc. the aerial. It will work but it's basically a crap shoot as to whether it will actually work precisely as you want.
- Re. GEs. Many mid-range corporate hotels (Marriott etc.) seem to have little GE clock radios. We have an old second-hand one at home. I personally like GEs because they have a nice sound - very quiet and not bassy, but also very clear - ideal for low volume night-time listening. They also seem easy to programme while in a bleary state.
- If you want a really really cheap one, try thrift stores/charity shops, they often seem to have piles of the things.
posted by carter at 8:54 PM on January 3, 2005

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