The humble alarm clock has certainly come a long way from being your average waking up tool – these days, the irritating din of metal clanging against each other is a thing of the past. Your ears instead will be greeted by your favorite ringtone, an MP3 file of your choice, or for the connected model, how about an Internet radio station with your favorite shock jock digitally playing tunes in your bedroom?
That is what the Altaz Internet Clock Radio offers, and I managed to spend some time with it. One thing I can say though – if you are ever going to get to work on time, it is best not to switch alarm clocks overnight like me, chances are, you might not even wake up to be on time for work, as your ears have yet to be conditioned to the new sounds. Read on about the Altaz Internet Clock Radio hands-on after the jump.
But I digress. Just how did I this new gizmo in the bedroom? Well, it is hard to recommend it as a “must buy”, although it would make for an interesting trinket to own. I would suppose if you know of any modern day luddites, getting this might be a way to warm up their toes to the consumer electronics revolution. Seriously, your smartphone ought to be able to do what Altaz’s offering does with the right app, and much more, but if you’re the type who prefers to leave specific functions for dedicated devices, then it might be worth your while.
With a 3.5” touchscreen display at 320 x 240 resolution, it is not going to win any awards for being the best looking screen around, although it does its job rather well. Other hardware specifications include MP3 playback capability, an SD memory card slot, 128MB of internal memory, a mini USB input, a 1-watt speaker, a JPEG viewer and Wi-Fi connectivity to get you connected.
Audio quality is decent – although it isn’t recommended to sleep with this alarm clock too far away from your bed, otherwise a pillow covering your head might just drown the sound out during those drowsy mornings, resulting in you missing an important appointment or even worse, getting the sack for being late for the umpteenth time.
You will be able to use the touchscreen display to manipulate all the settings inside, and sometimes the clock seems to hang – but if you wait long enough (more than 5 minutes for me), the software didn’t freeze, it just took a really, really long time to sort things out, especially when you are searching for specific radio stations. Setting up a list of radio station presets is painless, and you can also opt to do it when the Altaz Internet Clock Radio is connected to a computer via USB if you find the touchscreen a wee bit hard to use.
Actually, inputting characters via the touchscreen display was an extremely frustrating experience for me no thanks to the virtual keyboard that seemed to be less than impressive. You would be better off hooking it up to a computer and getting the job done via a real keyboard instead. Setting up the Wi-Fi connection can also be quite the frustrating experience – entering your WPA key wrongly would require you to delete the whole string instead of the offending character, which should not happen in this day and age. Apart from that, there is no option for you to view your password in plain text as you are entering it in order to prevent mistakes, so practice makes perfect here. Hopefully a future firmware update will fix these issues. On the bright side, firmware updates give the clock a longer shelf life in your home, don’t you think so?
Apart from the touchscreen display, there is the play/pause button, volume control and power button at the side which are pretty much self-explanatory. A large snooze button at the top does its job well,
The alarm clock has two default audio files to get you out of bed – a crowing rooster, and that of chirping birds. Of course, you can always upload your own MP3 files to replace those, and for folks who prefer to wake up to a morning Internet radio station talk show, you’re able to do that as well.
I actually let the Altaz Internet Clock Radio run for around 4 hours straight, being connected to my favorite Internet radio station, and playing it back at 50% volume loudness. This is a decent return, but I would recommend you just leave it plugged into a power outlet.
The asking price of $99.99 makes it hard for me to recommend it to anyone, but if your want to dip your toes into the world of Internet alarm clocks and digital photo frames, there might be better ways to begin. A little bit too late to the game, I must say. Hopefully a future version (if ever) from Altaz will be able to address all of its issues and make good then.