After Hours

Geek Gifts 2011: Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio with iPod Dock

Wake up on time with quantum precision to your favorite music straight off your iPod with the Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio.

One of the most important pieces of gadgetry, and probably one of the most taken for granted, is the alarm clock radio. It doesn't matter whether you are a geeky scientist on your way to the particle accelerator or a geeky IT Professional destined to reboot PCs all day, you have to get out of bed on time. With the Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio with iPod Dock, you can at least be waking up to your choice of music.

Specifications

  • Product: Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio with iPod Dock
  • Company: Sangean American, Inc.
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 3.3 x 7.1 inches; 2.5 pounds
  • AM/FM/RDS with Digital Tuning
  • iPod Dock
  • WWV Atomic Clock
  • 5 presets with dual alarm sleep timer
  • Adjustable Dimmer
  • 10 station presets (5 FM, 5 AM)
  • Play, charge, and cradle your iPod
  • Comprehensive iPod Dock adjuster
  • Radio Controlled clock available for DCF and FM RDS-CT, Time zone selector switch, 2 alarm timer
  • Easy to read LCD display with adjustable backlight
  • Cost: $80 on Amazon

What I like

  • Atomic clock: Like the old song says, "Does anyone really know what time it is?" Well, with the Sangean RCR-10 the answer is yes, because it can pull down the correct time from the ether based on an established international standard.
  • iPod Dock: Besides the atomic clock, the feature that defines this clock radio is the built-in dock for an Apple iPod or iPhone. Using the dock, you can wake up to your favorite music.
  • Stereo: The sound quality of the two small stereo speakers is surprisingly decent, especially when compared to the normal mono-speaker system found in most clock radios. However, the sound quality is not premium quality like you might find in one of the expensive Bose gadgets, so be sure to temper your expectations.
  • LCD: The LCD display of the Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio includes large lettering and display that can be dimmed for nighttime use.

What I don't like

  • Plug: The Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio has one extraordinary problem that you will have to compensate for - a very large transformer plug. Because the iPod Dock recharges your iPod, the power flowing from the wall outlet has to be adapted and Sangean manages this task with a very large plug. In my bedroom, the outlet for my clock radio is covered by my bed, which now sits a few inches away from the wall to accommodate the plug.
  • Big: The other accommodation you will have to make is for the increased size of the Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio. It was about a third bigger than my previous clock radio and now dominates my small night stand. Make sure you have room for the Sangean RCR-10's gerth.
  • Interface: The LCD is very readable, but the way the buttons and the rest of the interface works is not very intuitive. Some strange decisions about how to adjust something as basic as setting the morning alarm are much more complicated than they should be. You will eventually get the hang of it, but it should not be necessary to memorize a clock radio interface.
  • Dimmer: This is a personal annoyance and is just a product of LCD displays - unless the display is turned off completely, the LCD cannot be dim enough for me. But, then again, I like a very dark room for sleeping; the soft glow of an LCD screen may not bother you.
  • Cost: At around $80, the Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio is not terribly expensive, but it is more expensive than a standard alarm clock radio. If the cost of the RCR-10 drops to around $50, I would consider it a bargain.

Bottom line

The Sangean RCR-10 Atomic Clock Radio with iPod Dock is a great upgrade to the common alarm clock radio sitting on your nightstand. The benefit to your overall psyche of waking up to music of your choice instead of random radio sounds or annoying buzzing alarms cannot be overestimated. While a little more expensive than a typical clock radio, it is well-made and has enough features to warrant spending a few extra dollars.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: ***
  • Value: ***
  • Overall: ***

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

3 comments
rodmacerm
rodmacerm

My unit is just showing a blue screen after I plugged it in. There is nothing on the display. Do anyone have any answers

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What wakes you up in the morning? I like waking up to music rather than ringing if I can help it. I particularly like being jolted awake.