Top critical review
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Decent unit for price, but has deal breaking flaw
on January 25, 2008
Unfortunately, I am not able to rate the Sony ICF-C218 as highly as my colleagues. Not that this clock radio doesn't have numerous good features. The radio got good reception and the sound was of better than average quality. The controls, as others have pointed out, are intuitive and easy to use even without ever resorting to the instructions. The alarm, as is common, can wake you up either with the radio or with a buzzer. The only missing feature that would have been nice would be a dual alarm, though for the price this lack cannot be complained of.
The problem with the unit, and it is a serious one, is the brightness of the display. Of the other two reviewers who've rated the ICF-C218 at three stars, curiously one complains that the display is too dim and the other that it is too bright. My experience agrees with the later. I didn't notice until I tried sleeping beside this unit, but once your eyes are accustomed to the darkness the nicely-sized display is simply far too bright. It casts shadows on my ceiling and was a distraction when trying to fall asleep; I was forced to angle it away from myself or face the opposite direction. This is simply inexcusably poor design in an alarm clock and is a deal breaker for me; I'm going to be returning my unit.
A more minor complaint would be the AM/PM indicator. Most clocks have a single light that is lit when it is post meridiem (or ante meridiem, depending on the model), but this one has two lights, one about 7 mm above the other, which indicate morning or afternoon. That's fine when the room is light and you can read the AM or PM text next to the two lights, but at night you'll simply have to remember which light is above the other one and how far each is from the top of the display. Not a big deal for most, but another small design flaw.
This isn't a bad clock for the price (Wal-Mart carries it for even less, $9.96) but the brightness issue makes it unusable for me. The addition of a dimmer switch, fixing the AM/PM indicator, and adding a second alarm setting would make this clock easily a five star item, even at a slightly higher price.