Review: Edifier's Retro-Modern Twist On The Twin-Bell Clocks In With SD Card Connectivity
By Matthew Lentini | Wednesday | 31/08/2011
The Tick Tock takes retro inspiration from the old-school twin-bell alarm clock design, blended with contemporary features like the unusually added SD card port for audio. Is it a bedside beauty or just more table clutter?
The official name for this retro-modern fusion clock is the MF240 Multimedia Speaker, but since that's an uninspiring shelf name, Edifier has otherwise dubbed it the Tick Tock. As one of a series of upcoming Tick Tocks, this model is the SD/USB/FM Radio version, featuring those respective media connections.
No fancy iPod docking stations on this particular Edifier gizmo, the Tick Tock instead plugs into MP3 players via 3.5mm jack, located discretely around the back of the unit. The same goes for the USB connector and the SD card slot, with everything sitting neatly in the back to keep the front face flush and unblemished.
Edifier has retrofitted its Tick Tocks with a bit of retro inspiration from the old-school twin-bell alarm clock design, fused with a modern black-on-grey sleekness (or cream and grey, if you prefer the Apple-esque sleekness). The bells are solely cosmetic additions, sitting above the two small speakers but serving no real purpose (like ringing to wake you up, as you'd expect). The font houses a basic, circular LCD screen with a blue tinge like an old digital clock, surrounded by a grill that looks deceptively like it hides a large speaker - but alas, no dice, folks.
The topside buttons consist of a multidirectional pad that translates into volume up/down and track/station back/forward with a play/pause button in the middle. The rubbery panel is soft to the touch and easy to feel for without looking and press. Though it isn't always responsive - muting or playing radio at times took multiple clicks since softer clicks don't always register despite feeling the 'click' under your finger.
The retro-ness seems to come in a pair to match some of the retro features - and we don't mean that in a good way. The radio can auto-detect FM stations, but the presets (up to 24) are dictated by this auto-detect feature rather than what you program. The buttons wrapped around the back end and top of the clock also make for retro controls that modern phones and fancier digital clocks have done away with. What you're left with is an experience of setting the time, date and alarm reminiscent of trying to work out how to stop, start and reset an old sports stopwatch - it's not too tricky, it's just annoying.
Sound quality isn't a standout perk on this little clock, housing two small 3.5W speakers measuring in at one and a half inches each way. They have lacking but not too poor mid-range performance but worse yet on the bass side. It doesn't push the decibel level high enough to distort though, instead opting for tiny taps on bass hits and drum kicks rather than crunching distortion - it doesn't try too hard, but it doesn't achieve much either. Radio quality won't be churned out the best (no digital radio here) but vocals will sound out clearly. At its minimal but adequate output, it sounds okay, but don't expect this alarm to wake you from any deep slumbers.
Setting the alarm isn't too tricky, but choosing the output is. According to the short instruction manual, you can select the alarm sound output, but changing from FM to any of the other outputs didn't seem possible. For a basic alarm clock, the big plus here would've been to be able to play whatever song you want to be your daily wake-up call. There's always your mobile phone which can already do everything this clock does though, plus more, possibly with better sound quality too if you're lucky.
The SD card slot and USB port sit around the back end of the unit, on top of the power input, allowing users to play music files (saved as MP3s or WAVs) straight off SD cards and thumb drives. There's a dedicated button somewhere between the top and back sides of the unit (hard to judge where exactly it is since it's a hemisphere shape) for changing the input source, so picking and choosing between AUX, SD, USB and radio is nice and simple.
The Tick Tock clock is a uniquely designed but altogether uninspiring unit with a few connectivity perks to set it apart. The USB connection is almost standard, though the SD card port is one plus that not many other docks, portable players or alarm clocks come stocked with in Australia. If this is enough of a selling point for you and you're looking for a cheap but cute accessory to sit on your bedside table, this little number might tickle your fancy - but the 'meh' factor is pretty big here.
Apr/May 2011 issue
reviews the hot new iPhone attach device, the Zeppelin Air. And we look at what's going on in the tablet space...