My old clock radio died. They’re common and cheap, but the quality and ease of use differs markedly and brand name is no guide. So I was disappointed Choice hadn’t tested them and I had to work out a replacement for myself. Really guys, make my subscription worthwhile.
Hi @DavidCR, welcome to the community.
We purchased 3 identical bedside units 15+years past, possibly from a BigW. They were not expensive items. All seem to be made in one of the two Chinas. The radio performance varied between all 3. One had a button issue after some time. This suggests a single sample reviewed by Choice may not be a good guide to the quality of another!
A general note, the backup batteries can be a high cost with the worst option those that use a 9V cell.
I no longer use a clock radio bedside and set the alarm on the mobile if needed.
While working we had two clock radios, a Panasonic and a Sony. A major criteria was large displays we could read without glasses on. Sound quality was down the list because it was to wake us up not entertain us.
After we retired the Panasonic was passed on to another and the Sony has not been used as a clock radio [alarm] since the day after retiring. When either of us needs to awake for some reason it is a mobile or tablet alarm these days.
Since Choice is unable to test long term reliability in the lab, and products regularly change as do the factories they are made in, the objective elements would be display size and visibility, ease of use of the settings/controls/tuning, time accuracy when under battery (the Panasonic was ridiculously bad, the Sony very good), and in these times perhaps power consumption.
Choice decides what to test based on market conditions and product volumes. It may be that clock radios have lost their lustre as well as market yet a survey of some well known web sites shows numerous products are available.
If Choice considered a test, what aspects would you be most interested in?
Something to consider if you are in a digital radio transmission area is buying a digital clock radio. DAB in Australia has a lot more channels than the old AM/FM radios and usually the quality of the audio is also superior. It is worth looking at one that has a earphone jack so that one can enjoy the benefits of DAB when lying in bed.
Most often I use the sleep timer radio function to listen while I am getting ready. This way, I don’t have to worry about turning off the radio. On rare occassions when I have to wake up early, I like to have the radio wake me rather than the mobile phone’s alarm.
In addition to what @PhilT listed, does it have:
- good radio reception (AM/FM)?
- USB port(s) to connect to or to charge devices?
- contactless Qi mobile phone charging?
- can it be used as a portable device in an emergency?
Very important things that people complain about after purchase (just read some reviews):
- Controllable sound of alarm, especially as radio (some come on radio fixed volume)
- Gradual wake or not
- Dimmable display
- Sensible volume control (not all or nothing)
- Ease of setup (should not need manual)
Talking about digital radio can anyone answer why some are so, expensive. I can only think they want to charge a, stupid price due to the brand.
The answer is ‘economics of scale’. DAB is relatively new technology and not really adopted by consumers here.
Only small quantities are being sold so there is a high cost per unit produced because manufacturers and the supply chain attempt to recoup their investment, and make a profit.
When the volume of sales increases and there is more competition in the market, price will fall.
I find some time so called competition makes no difference with some things in society. Im not saying it is the same for this particular item. No doubt for example when products have been on the market for a while price comes down but its marked up in my options. But that is choice. I can’t say the new digital radio are overly great unless some brands are better than others.
Observed similar when we purchased one.
The receiver and digital processing electronics are volume products shared across many brands. With even greater complexity, it’s long been possible to purchase a USB stick style device capable of receiving, decoding and delivering digital TV for $50 or less. The core technology is not expensive.
It would appear the only real difference in value of a DAB receiver is the housing used and quality of the audio system installed with the tuner. DAB offers high quality digitally encoded audio. Supposedly the logic behind the product and market charging accordingly. It’s self defeating to have a DAB tuner and match it to tin pot audio output. Although some products appear to do so and still charge a premium. Choice ‘member content’ agrees.
If one is prepared to settle for a basic housing, toy speaker, basic audio amp at a Kogan price ($39.99).
Akai brand so there should be other suppliers.