The Clock Radio Journey

Last year, when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday, the one thing that stood out in my mind as a “need” was a new clock radio. By virtue of the fact that I am calling it a clock radio should be a hint as to how old my previous one was. Nonetheless, that was the idea I put forth with the idea that I am looking for one that could play a tune on my iPhone, hoping that my request wouldn’t be too much trouble, although it seemed like a simple enough birthday wish. Little did I know that this would be a catalyst for a journey and a half.

When my birthday came around, I received a most handsome docking station that was exactly what I wanted! Compact; suitable for docking an iPhone 4; could wake up to my favourite tune; easy to read display (without having to put on my glasses in the middle of the night) – it was perfection. Who could ask for anything more? My life was complete! It got even better as I was even able to set the time and alarm without even opening the instruction book. Bonus! I was just so delighted, and in the mornings that followed, I awoke to a different Alcazar tune every morning.

It was the best start to my morning until…. that one morning I awoke to find the clock saying 11:11. I jumped out of bed thinking I was ridiculously late only to find it was still dark outside. And in all seriousness, when was the last time I woke up that late?… maybe 1989? Something was up… it looked like the LEDs weren’t working properly (or was it LCDs?.. I forget.. anyway…) After doing the oh-so-scientific, “unplug.. wait a minute.. plug” routine (the docking station version of a reboot), it became apparent that this little guy was sadly defective.

So I carefully packaged the machine back up and brought it back to the hassle-free returns counter and got a store credit. Upon returning to the electronics section to get another one, the news was even sadder as this model was out of stock and discontinued. Ugh! The journey continues! So I picked out another one that seemed to offer all the same features. I used the store credit and whisked it home.

Docking station #2 was similar in many ways: compact, easy to set up, easy to read, I thought that was an easy trade… until the next morning. When 6:00 rolled around, the docking station started to play Alcazar’s song “Burning”, but after 30 seconds, it stopped playing music and started beeping loudly like a smoke detector with a failing battery. After reviewing the instructions it was clear that this WAS the “wake up to music option”, 30 seconds followed by beeping loud enough to alert traffic to an oncoming train. It didn’t take long to decide that for this light sleeper, I did not need something quite this loud. This one was going back.

I carefully packaged the machine back up and brought it back to the hassle-free returns counter and got a store credit. I returned to the electronic sections and picked out another one.

Docking station #3 seemed to be the next best thing. In the store, I read the instructions carefully and I did not read the word “beep” (or any derivatives of the word “beep”) anywhere, so I thought this was a safe bet. I used the store credit and whisked it home. When 6:00 rolled around and Alcazar’s “Stay the Night” started to play, I was so delighted when after 30 seconds it didn’t beep, it kept playing! But the song’s volume kept getting louder… and louder.. and louder until it was screeching at me at an unbearable level. In my frazzled, uncaffeinated haze, I read the manual again and discovered the meaning of the “progressive wake-up” feature. It gets louder until you hit the snooze or wake button, whichever comes first. Again, this was sadly not the gentle melodic wake-up I was looking for.

Is there not a single model out there that plays a tune in full, at a consistent volume? That’s all I want.. to hear one fun song, in its entirety, to wake me up in the morning. Doesn’t anyone make those?

So I took a deep breath, carefully packaged the machine back up and brought it back to the hassle-free returns counter and got a store credit. I perused the entire section and analyzed them one by one, feature by feature and realized that this was the end of the line with this store as all the remaining ones fell into one of the previous categories of features and none offered what I was looking for. Time for a different store.

A new Target store had just opened up, so I thought I would give them a try. Without even looking too hard, I found a Toshiba DMS R1 that seemed to have the exact combination of features I was looking for. It took a few attempts to get it set up, but once I did, I set the alarm to a few minutes later to test it out… The angelic melody to Alcazar’s “Put the Top Down” played, and played, and played, at consistent volume, no beeps and followed by another great Alcazar tune, “We Keep On Rockin'”. We have a winner!!

With all these returns, this process took about 4 months to finally find the magic one. I confess that this story edited out a couple more models, one that had a readout so bright you could have landed a plane in my bedroom, and another that was so small, there was no way I could read it in the middle of the night without dragging myself to the edge of the bed and moving the device to within six inches of my face. But in the end, the Toshiba is a keeper and will hopefully be getting my day off on the right foot with Alcazar for many years to come!

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