Customer Reviews: Sony ICF-C318 Clock Radio with Dual Alarm (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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on April 25, 2008
This is a great little clock! It doesn't take up much space, but it has features that you would expect to find on a larger, more expensive clock. It is super-easy to operate, too. It has dual alarms - each can have either buzzer/music to wake you up. The radio has a wonderful sound to it. The time display has 3 settings. I'm sensitive to light, and sometimes the lowest setting on some clocks can be too bright. But, on this clock, the lowest setting is just perfect. You get so many features in this clock and you'd think you'd have to pay a lot more money for it, but you don't!
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on May 2, 2010
There is plenty to like about this alarm for the price. Essentially, it is what it claims to be, a clock radio with 2 alarms, but it gets 5 stars and my recommendation because many of its features can be adjusted to suit your needs or preferences.

Automatic time set: Convenient, but no big deal. When you plug it in, it automatically has the correct time, so you don't have to run around the house making sure it matches your cell phone and cable box. I don't really understand why this feature is given such prominant billing in the name or feature list, but because it does, I followed the precedent. The date is also set and can be viewed by pressing the snooze button.

Dual alarms: As promised, there are 2 alarms. What's nice is that they're controlled by 2 separate, identical controls on opposite sides of the alarm. So, instead of a button you hold or a switch you select to choose between the alarms, the left side sets Alarm A and the right side sets Alarm B, keeping it easy and clear, even in the middle of the night.

3 light settings: The display can be set to 1 of 3 levels of brightness. The dimmest setting is dim enough to not interrupt your sleep, something rare with green displays, while the brightest setting is bright enough to read in the day time. This simple feature permits me to place the clock facing my bed, letting me glance at it through the night.

Snooze: The clock has a large snooze button placed right up front. Again, what makes it particularly useful is that the snooze can be adjusted while the alarm is going off by holding the button down. So, when the alarm goes off, press the button once to snooze the alarm for 10 minutes, or continue to hold the snooze button to increase the snooze from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, and continue to hold to increase the snooze time by increments of 10 minutes for up to 1 hour.

Radio: The clock is plenty loud and clear on the stronger stations. While it, of course, still sounds like a clock radio, it is perfectly adequate for listening to background orchestral music in a child's room or NPR in your office. Also, there's the typical sleep function, letting you listen to the radion as you fall asleep with the radio turning off after 90, 60, 30, or 15 minutes.

Plug and Controls: The plug is a typical plug (like that of a lamp), instead of an adapter with the transformer inside, so it doesn't take up a bunch of space if plugged in behind a dresser or chest of drawers. Also, the controls are easy to grab and use. There aren't separate hour and minute buttons to control the alarms, which is typically my preference, however the dials work so well, especially in the middle of the night, with the speed increasing the longer you hold the dial, that I have come to prefer these dials.

2 Negatives: First, though there are 2 settings, the "buzzer" alarm is really not very loud. Normally that would be a deal breaker for me, however, the radio alarm can be plenty loud, so it works out fine. Actually, because of the way I use the alarm (see below), I like having the ability to set a quiet alarm first with a loud screamer as back up. Second, the lights showing which alarm is set and whether it's set to am or pm are not very clear. The indicators are merely small dots placed close together, so you can tell if 1, 2 or no alarms are set, but not necessarily whether it's alarm A or B that's set. I should add that you get used to the lights over time, though since the A and B alarm controls are on opposite sides of the alarm, I don't know why Sony wouldn't simply place the alarm indicators similarly, or make the indicators "A" and "B" instead of a dot.

How I use it: I set the A alarm to "buzzer" for what time I need to start waking up, and the B alarm to the radio with the volume up for the time I need to be out of bed. Because the "buzzer" is actually an easy "chirp, chirp, chirp ... chirp, chirp, chirp ... " I'm able to start waking up without getting too angry, all the while the radio alarm working to guarantee that I actually get up. In this, it's effectively replaced my old Soleil Sun Alarm, which would glow to gently wake me up before an alarm would force me from bed.
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on August 13, 2007
So easy to set & price is right. Radio works good too.
2 seperate alarms, radio or beep. Time is correct out of the box - that's the only "automatic time set" in play here - -1 star for the "automatic time set" which isn't really... Battery backup built in - not a 9v, aaa or aa...looks like it will last - round, flat battery of some type like a watch battery, only larger.
3 settings for display. The lowest is dim enough not to bother me and the highest is fairly bright - low is tough to see in full daylight..
Good value here IMHO. Would buy again ....
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on March 11, 2008
This clock radio shares an obvious family resemblance to its highly successful predecessor, the Sony ICF-C218 Automatic Time Set Clock Radio (Black): 90% of the buttons and functions of the earlier version are implemented and placed identically in the newer model. The buttons and their labeling are so intuitive that a manual is hardly needed (but helpful for the Sleep and Time Zone buttons). The ICF-C318 possesses four new buttons, switches and controls and a feature that make it a more desirable model than the earlier one: a 3-level brightness button, a two-level buzzer volume switch, a second alarm mode rotary switch, a second alarm time setting control, and most importantly, the 'No Power No Problem' feature means the alarm will still sound even if the AC power is off when the alarm was set to ring. The efficacy of those new contols and feature were assessed.

The brightness control was a feature requested by many users of the ICF-C218 who complained it was too bright in a darkened room. There is no doubt that the display of the newer ICF-C318 can be set to be very dim (thus pleasing insomniacs bothered by the 'nighlight effect') but at its brightest setting it is still too dim to be seen clearly in a brightly lit room. The alarm buzzer is not really a buzzer, its a peeper and the two level slide control has little noticeable effect on volume - its just not very loud either way. When ignored the alarm peeps more frequently. If you need a really loud alarm, you will be safer using the radio alarm rather than the buzzer. The rotary switches to set alarm mode (off, buzzer, radio) are improved in that the indicator on the switch is a larger, more visible groove than the the tiny, hard-to-see pit of the earlier model. The alarm time set knobs allow a new time to be set very quickly and easily; they are just a little clunkier looking than the sleek recessed toggle control of the earler model. The 'No Power No Problem' feature is the best new feature for this unit that sets it apart from the ICF-C218. I expect my alarm clock to work at a very high level of reliability, a power outage is no excuse for failure of that function. In this regard, the ICF-C318 performs as expected, but the ICF-C218 fails miserably. If the alarm mode is set to radio and the AC power is off when the alarm should ring, the ICF-C318 uses the buzzer (peeper) alarm instead; the buzzer probably drains less energy from the tiny backup battery than the radio.

The radio portion of this clock radio performs adequately. The sound can be quite clear for a strong station but it is obviously not high fidelity. The radio portion of this unit is just gravy - the alarm and clock function are the only real crucial parts to me. It seems to keep good time. I synchronised it with an atomic clock initially and a week later see no difference between the two when they were compared again. Clock time is maintained by a Li wafer battery even when the AC power is off; I don't know why they didn't use a more common, cheaper, higher capacity backup battery like an AA. The clock will perform automatic advance and setback of the time for regions that follow daylight savings time. Fortunately, this feature can be disabled for regions like the state of Arizona that do not use DST. By comparison, Emerson clock radios that have 'SmartSet' are crippled - DST advance and setback cannot be disabled.

How about aesthetics? In my opinion the earlier version's (ICF-C218) simpler shape and flat faceplate were snappier looking. The rounded faceplate and rear of the newer ICF-C318 seem less attractive. But its easy to dismiss the skin-deep homeliness when the other good features of the ICF-C318 are considered. The ICF-C318 comes in a white case and a black case version (complete Sony model numbers ICF-C318/WC and ICF-C318/BC respectively). This review applies to both color models because they are functionally identical. Although I don't normally like white appliances, it is a little bit easier to read the black button labels on the white case than the white button labels on the black case.

It took a while for me to understand that with this clock there is both a manual and an automated way to spring clock time forward for Daylight Saving Time and to 'fall back' when Standard Time resumes. These two mechanisms don't always play nice together and that can lead to confusion. Well, at least it confused me. I should also point out that the instructions that came with the clock just discuss US Time Zones which have designated DST start/stop dates at least until 2015, and spring forward and fall back at 2AM. In other parts of the world, the designated DST dates and times often differ from the US so it is unlikely that the automated DST adjustment of this clock will be of any use (except in Canada). So where you don't fall into a US time zone, the automatic DST adjustment should be disabled; just remember to use the manual method on the appropriate date. And of course if you live in a part of the US (like Arizona) where DST is not observed, the automatic DST adjustment should likewise be disabled.

I have concluded that the Time Zone setting has no effect on anything including automatic DST adjustment. I can only envision one situation where it would matter or be helpful to set or adjust the Time Zone: if you take the alarm clock with you when you travel and in your travels you cross time zone boundaries. Adjusting the Time Zone allows the clock time to be altered in 1 hour increments without having to go through the Clock button to manually reset the time. Its easy to set the Time Zone, so why don't you set it for your zone anyway?

I will spare you some of the trial and error I went through to try to figure out how DST was implemented and if it worked correctly on this clock. DST adjustments are explained in the manual that came with the clock but those explanations didn't go quite far enough. I wanted to understand it so I could set this up for my mom and know exactly what would happen when DST started and stopped. Maybe my explanation will help you.

Before you start, use the Snooze button to verify the year, month and day. If incorrect, then set using the Clock button.

To Disable Automatic DST Adjustment For Places That Don't Observe DST
Hold down the DST button until 'Aut' then 'OFF' appear, then release. If 'Aut' then 'On' appear, release the DST button then press and hold it again to display 'Aut' then 'OFF' and release the DST button. If the DST LED is illuminated on the front of the clock, press the DST button momentarily: this will have the effect of extinguishing the DST LED and setting back the time 1 hour. If the time is incorrect, find a good reference time source and use the Clock and + - buttons to adjust. So now you are good to go in places like Arizona that don't observe DST. Put some clear tape across the Time Zone and DST buttons so you won't be inadvertantly adjusting them as you are stabbing for the Alarm Reset button in the dark.

To Manually Invoke DST Adjustment
First, make sure you have disabled automatic DST adjustment by holding down the DST button to get Aut' then 'OFF' in the display. To 'spring forward' the clock, momentarily press the DST button. This will illuminate the DST LED and set the clock ahead 1 hour. To 'fall back' momentarily press the DST button. This will extinguish the DST LED and set the clock back 1 hour. By this method you can easily compensate for DST changes in locations other than the US where the date or time for DST start/end are different from the US.

Automatic DST Adjustment
If you live in a US time zone where DST is implemented, the automatic DST adjustment of this clock is handy. It's handy because you don't have to remember to do it and because it's easier than manually changing the time on your clock. To enable automatic DST adjustment, hold down the DST button until 'Aut' then 'On' appear, then release. If 'Aut' then 'OFF' appear, release the button and repeat to display 'Aut' then 'On' and release the DST button. If the date is within the range for DST, then the DST LED illuminates. If the date is within the range for Standard Time, then the DST LED is extinguished. If automatic DST adjustment is on, then at 2 AM on March 9, 2008 for example the clock suddenly jumped forward to display 3 AM and the DST LED became illuminated.

Future Proof Automatic DST Adjustment?
I set the clock ahead to March 8, 2015 and verified that it 'sprung forward' at 2 AM like it should. Without checking the years between 2008 and 2015, I assume the clock would also apply and remove DST on the appropriate date for those years. So the automated DST adjustment of this clock is probably good for at least the next seven years unless DST gets discontinued or altered by Congress before then.
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on August 18, 2008
This is a pretty okay clock. I bought it because I'm going off to college. I wanted a loud alarm clock so I could make sure I woke up for class, and I hoped this would be loud since it had two alarm settings [high and low]. However, both the settings create basically the same volume. The volume for the alarm clock is definitely not loud enough, and it is a beep NOT a buzzer as it says on the box. However, the radio does work and it is loud enough, so you can set that as your alarm clock. Another thing is that this clock promised that the time would be set when I plugged it in. It was not set and I had to set it myself. I know thats not much of a hassle, but I feel that they shouldn't advertise false information. [btw: I live on the US east coast so it wasn't that I had to set the right time zone.]

So in conclusion: 3 out of 5 stars. Good clock but 2 of the claimed features were not actually present.
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on October 26, 2007
This clock radio works very well. I like the adjustable display as the display on my previous clock radio was like a spot light even on low. The radio reception is excellent. I live in the hinterland about 70 miles from Austin and yet I can pick up my favorite Austin radio station. I tried an Emerson first from my local Walmart and ended up taking it back because it had terrible reception. It would not receive even the local station.
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on December 30, 2007
great product for couples. Instead of flipping a coin for who gets the music or buzzer alarm, this clock gives the option for both to have either music or buzzer. This is exactly why I purchased this clock. LED display light is a perfect brightness for a nice sleep.
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on December 31, 2010
Although this alarm is easy to setup, it really has a couple major flaws. First, the loudest possible setting isn't very loud at all. Quieter than every alarm I've ever owned and probably not even as loud as the ding on my microwave. It takes five minutes before it annoys you to consciousness. Second, it's riddled with buttons on the top surrounding the snooze. Ironically, the closest button to the snooze is the cancel alarm button. So in a hazy state from not adequately being pulled out of sleep, you think you're hitting the snooze and instead hit cancel.. or maybe you hit a 1/4 inch further left and turned on the stupid radio. This would otherwise be a great alarm if it was actually loud enough and not riddled with buttons in bad places.
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on October 17, 2010
I didn't expect all that much for $20. The radio reception / sound is not great, but the time display is good (not too bright), and the size is small and unobtrusive. There is one huge design flaw! Don't their design engineers know that when someone wakes up in the morning he will reach over and want to turn it off by feel? The buttons are tiny and all feel alike. I ended up putting layers of aluminum tape over the 'off' button so when I feel it I know what it is. It would have cost nothing more to make it a raised up button. I am looking for another clock and will toss this one when I find a replacement.
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on March 3, 2008
Love this clock! Great big display that doesn't overwhelm you at night. A nice, unannoying "beep beep" for the buzzer alarm, that repeats in increasing increments as you let it stay on longer. Has two alarms. A decent radio. All the things that you could want in a basic clock radio.

The annoying quirks: To turn off the alarm, you have to press this small button ... in the dark ... at 4:00am. Not so easy. Also, while the display doesn't overwhelm at night, it also doesn't during the day, and can be hard to see if it is bright in the room.

Overall, best clock radio I've had.
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