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Mini-review: Memorex Mi4703PBLK iPod/iPhone dual alarm clock radio

Summary: Not bad in general, but inability to set alarm volume is a fatal flaw for me.

This clock radio has generally decent UI (which puts it way ahead of the pack), looks reasonably ok (at least compared to most), will play from, control (play/pause/skip), and charge an iPhone or iPod (but can’t control iPods before 4th gen, according to the manual), and even has an aux line in to support other audio players (though it can’t control other devices, so you – understandably – can’t wake to audio from the aux input).

However, the alarm volume can not be changed. This is a fatal shortcoming for me, as I generally wake to the radio and lie in bed a bit listening to the news. This is effectively impossible when the radio comes on full blast. (Technically, it comes on at low volume and then is supposed to ramp up to high volume – in my experience it started at low volume and then jumped directly to high volume, but either way it means no control over the volume.) I typically use a second alarm on buzzer mode to wake me on the offhand chance that I sleep through the first alarm or fall back asleep while listening to the radio, which is why I want a dual alarm unit. Because of this issue, I returned the unit I purchased this weekend.

Other criticisms include the fact that the dimmer does not dim enough for my taste – the lowest brightness (short of turning the display off completely) is still brighter than I would like. Also, audio quality is less than I had hoped – lower frequencies are acceptable (to me) for this usage, but the upper frequencies sound disappointingly muffled. And there’s no way to have an iPod/iPhone play a particular song when the alarm is in iPod mode, short of queueing up the song/playlist on the iPod as you go to bed. This isn’t terribly surprising given what it would entail, and is rather moot since the volume problem renders this unusable anyway. I didn’t get around to testing the power draw of the unit since I had already determined that I would be returning it.

Photo and reviews on amazon.com (I didn’t find these reviews when I was looking at the unit in the store, or I would have known about the volume problem.)

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