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.