Looking for the perfect techy clock radio. Giving up on iHome... might consider an internet radio.
August 3, 2011 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the perfect techy clock radio. Giving up on iHome... might consider an internet radio. Lots of questions inside.

(Posting for my husband.)

I tried an iHome a couple years ago and was disappointed. I have the brand new iA92 and am still disappointed. The device is cheap and plasticky. My iphone plays well but there are strange clicks, hisses and pops occasionally. Without the iphone connected, it's just a basic alarm clock. Kind of disappointing for a $100 alarm clock. The iHome iA100 ($200) looks cool because it has bluetooth, but otherwise it still seems identical to the iA92 and it just doesn't seem like it's worth $200.

Now I'm considering an internet based radio... thinking I can listen to NPR, Pandora, streaming radio stations, etc. I'd love to also be able to dock my iphone but haven't found the perfect option yet.

I'm looking at three internet radios that seem pretty awesome on Amazon but it worries me that I can't find any mention of them except on Amazon... there's almost no coverage from tech blogs or magazines. They are:

- Aluratek AIRMM02F $89
- Grace Digital GDI-IRA500 (Solo) $80
- Grace Digital GDI-IR2500 (Innovator III) $99

None of these have an iphone dock but they all have multiple alarms, internet radio and Pandora. I believe they all have a line in feature which I suppose I could use for an iphone if I wanted to.

Does anyone here have any experience with any of these? Should I assume that since there's no mainstream coverage, these may be gimmicky devices? I've never even heard of these brands before.

Anyone have an amazing techy alarm clock that I haven't considered?

posted by rglass to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if your husband is quite that nerdy, but Chumby is kind of the ultimate.
posted by tempythethird at 10:01 AM on August 3, 2011

Have you considered a Chumby?

They're fairly adaptable internet appliances, and the Chumby One has an alarm clock like footprint. (They do have sales every now and again, so you probably wouldn't need to pay full price.)

They have built-in (multi alarm) alarm clock and internet radio and Pandora functions, plus you can run a variety of free, Flash-based apps they have listed on their site. It does a lot of stuff, but apart from the radio and alarm clocks, mostly I use it for music and white noise, a bunch of different clock faces, newsfeeds, and photostreams (my Flickr stream plus some others).

Plus you can play back and charge your iPod.

It's mostly open source, and if you ever think of something plausible you want it to do that's not available, you can just write it yourself, which is something I haven't done, but take comfort in knowing I could.

They're sort of weird things to try to describe, but I am really very fond of mine and I use it all the time.

ON PREVIEW. I concur with tempythethird.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:03 AM on August 3, 2011

Third the Chumby.
posted by galadriel at 10:05 AM on August 3, 2011

Oh, allow me to herp derp. You said iPhone, not iPod.

I just looked real quick, and it appears it is not currently supported officially, but sometimes it does work anyway. (Disclaimer: I don't have any of the iP*s, so I can't personally attest to anything on that count.)
posted by ernielundquist at 10:15 AM on August 3, 2011

I was popping in to say Chumby or Squeezebox Radio, with a preference towards the Chumby.
posted by Gucky at 10:16 AM on August 3, 2011

Response by poster: The Chumby looks very cool but the reviews on Amazon are very mixed. Do any of you actually have one and like it? Do you have the Chumby One or Chumby 8?
posted by rglass at 10:26 AM on August 3, 2011

I have a Chumby One in my bedroom and a Chumby 8 in the kitchen.

I got each of them at around the time they were released, and have been happy with both.

The Chumby One I use mostly as an alarm clock/radio/etc., and the Chumby 8 mostly feeds ambient information (weather, news, etc.) plus I use it to look up recipes and such on the web browser, and, of course, I have a bunch of clockfaces on there too, because I love clocks.

I think the 8 would be a little weird as an alarm clock, mostly because of the footprint, but it does have alarm functionality and night mode, so it'd work.

I do think that if you're just interested in basic out-of-the-box functionality, it might be a disappointment. Part of the appeal is in the Easter Eggs and the tweakability aspects. Plus, I think there's a sort of fundamental lack of context sometimes for internet devices and what niche they are supposed to fill, so people put it into categories like "weird, overwrought alarm clock" or "underpowered computer," rather than seeing it as what it is, which is an adaptable, hackable internet appliance.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:59 AM on August 3, 2011

Response by poster: The Chumby One seems pretty interesting... I might have to check it out. Although I'm also liking the Squeezebox Radio. Neither seems perfect because they have no iphone connection, although it seems that the Chumby might charge the iphone even though it is not officially supported.

Thanks for the suggestions.
posted by rglass at 2:00 PM on August 3, 2011

rglass: " Do any of you actually have one and like it?"

We have two Chumby Ones, one in the bedroom as a super-alarm-clock and one as our living room clock/weather station/music player/toy. We're very pleased with them.
posted by galadriel at 9:27 AM on August 4, 2011

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