Sony Speaker Dock/Clock Radio Battery, Remote Control, Clock Radio (ICF-C1IPMK2-WHT) for iPod - Black

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Excellent bedside companion.

Dec 7, 2008 (Updated Dec 29, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:iPhone compatible, stylish design, dual alarm, good sound (for class), battery support, radio

Cons:no 24h mode, display brightness, average sound (overall), not 100% compatible with all iPhone functions

The Bottom Line: Excellent design and good features for a reasonable price on top of rare iPhone compatibility.


It isn't easy for iPhone owners to find a proper speaker dock that will work with the phone and not exhibit the interference and/or charger compatibility issues. Two icons make your life a bit easier and while "Made for iPod" is a general statement, the "Works with iPhone" is certainly what one has to look for. I tried may docks without that indicator and some have actually very little interference (i.e. Altec Lansing iM600), but also potentially will not charge the iPhone or the remote won't access the music player properly.


BACKGROUND

So why is it so important that the device suppots the iPhone properly? If all you need is a charger and "airplane mode" is fine for you, then it's really nothing more than a nice-to-have. However, if you don't wan't to be cut off from the network while you're having the iPhone plugged in on your bedside table, then it's suddenly a problem if the interference with the GSM signal produces an unpleasant noise every so often -- a deal breaker for light sleepers.

Another important side of compatibility is the support of iPod functionlity and it may appear odd that some newer models won't charge with certain docks -- despite Apple's universal connector. Such examples may be rare, but even pricier models like Altec Lansing iM600 are not excluded.


IN A NUTSHELL

I am very happy with the purchase of the C1iPMk2. Both sound and design are a welcome addition to every morning's chores of getting up and ready.

It works well with both our iPod Nano as well as the iPhone 3G (16 GB). There is virtually no interference noticeable and nighttime annoyances are kept to a minimum.

The remote control is fully functional for the iPod and only works with the iPhone if already in music player mode. Otherwise, a remote is relatively pointless for a bedside device anyway.


DETAILS

"Mk2": Sony offers two versions of the C1iP radio clock and it's important to look for the "Mk2" which is typical for Japanese devices to highlight it's the second revision. Both boxes look the same (with exception of the "Works with iPhone" label), and the price is the same too (maybe even the UPC, but I didn't check that)! At least at our local store, both versions were intermixed in the same spot and rang up the same too.

Compatibility: [****-] As mentioned above, the Mk2 is the main reason for its certification for the iPhone. There are still occasional interferences when using the radio portion while the GSM portion of the iPhone connects to the network. Even the iPod mode occasionally exhibits the noise occasionally but in a very muted way which was only noticeable to me at volume setting 20 (~ 50%) and above. For reference, I have it set to 6 for morning duty to not get blown out of the bed by a screaming polka walzing through the room. Hence the interference is not noticeable. Both iPhone and iPod Nano charge just fine. The remote, however, appears a bit touchy which I traced back to the proper seating of the iPhone. When not fully seated it may work but receiving the message tho choose Airplane mode is a fair indicator that it didn't seat just yet. In essence, the remote's iPod controls appear to be disabled in that case too.

Design: [****-] I'll be honest, the elegant design of the body was a major reason for looking at the C1iP to begin with. The Mk2 simply made the electronics acceptable to me as an iPhone user. Either way, the upright oblong design of the speakers fits the classy design of the iPhone 3G very well. The top blends a number of buttons in a stylish and unobtrusive way.  The only style problem I have is the dock portion which looks a bit clumsy in comparison to the rest of the device.

Usability: [****-] The design of the buttons also holds a slight handicap when trying to use the unit's control in the normal situation (from the bed). As those are fairly out of sight and obviously more difficult to navigate as one has to visually confirm often to hit the right button, but it's also a great feature for us as our button pusing toddler has not yet caught on to the plethora of opportunities for wreaking havoc (i.e. setting volume to maximum). We attribute this to the muted design of those buttons, which apparently don't scream "push me"! Other than that, the alarm clock sports the typical two alarms and a radio portion which should cover most situations.

Setup: [****-] The C1iPMk2 comes with the typical flyer to explain basic functions of the device which is easy enough, but also a bit limited as it does not have a quick start section for those who need a guided setup. Fortunately there is much to do as all batteries are preinstalled and setup consists of plugging the unit in, installing the iPod (or iPhone) and enjoy. At that point most users will get started rather quickly, though the alarm setup most likely will require reading the manual sheet.

Sound: [****-] Granted, this is not the rich sound of a Bose docking station or the power of the iKick500, but for it's class and purpose, the C1iPMk2 does very well in reproducing a clear midrange sound that only lacks in the bass and the ability to adjust neither trebble nor bass. A bit unusual is the somewhat muffled reproduction of high tones, indicating the lack of actual tweeters most likely due to cost. Of course, if you want or need a high power stereo to wake you up in the morning, or put to bed for that matter, the C1iPMk2 may not be the right choice. The unit does not contain an output for either an external amplifier and/or subwoofer. Hence it likely won't work as your home stereo either. However, one should not loose the purpose of a clock radio out of sight and for that the sound is certainly good enough and somewhere along the best in this class.

Clock: [***--] The clock sets itself automatically upon start and can be adjusted manually if needed (i.e. if you're living outside the ET time zone). I am not sure where the clock pulls the time from, but it's certainly not from the iPhone as they're occasionally a minute off. It remains to be seen how this holds up over time, but for my use it's for reference only since I let the iPhone drive time by using the phone's alarm function anyway. A minor annoyance is the fixed 12h display which I feel is antiquated and my preferred 24h mode is not available. (It really would not have cost Sony much to implement a way to allow both modes.)

Alarm: [***--] The dual alarm function is a welcome function for our bedroom. Setup is a bit more involving than some other clock radios I am familiar with, and you might choose to let the iPod/iPhone manage this function anyway (by not using the Sony's alarms). This allows to use the advanced scheduling which allows to discriminate by weekdays which the Sony leaves up to the user. However, should you choose the alarm function of the C1iPMk2, you get rewarded by choices between buzzer, radio and iPod. The most significant advatage is the ability to set a volume which is independent from the normal setting and makes sure you won't greet the new day with a sudden burst of loud music. However, when using an iPhone, it must be in music player mode to work for this function.

Battery: [***--] Yes, there is an actual battery in this clock radio, but it won't support the speakers, radio or iPod functions. It's meant to keep time and allows for an alarm via integrated buzzer. That's great news in the event of a power outage before or while you're supposed to get up. That is if you rely on the dock's alarm function and not the iPhone's.

Radio: [***--] It certainly is a great or even essential feature to provide radio access. The Sony does well within the expectations, though FM receiption didn't necessarily blow me away. The somewhat rare AM band requires to attach the included external antenna, while FM relies on a plain wire that's attached to the unit. Of course the GSM phone has an easy pathway for interferences to enter the radio, but receiption is a bit better on my Altec Lansing iM600. Maybe because of the telescoping FM antenna. The C1iPMk2, however, offers 10 presets for FM stations which is as impressive as it's overkill. The PLL tuner allows easy station finding via digital display. The radio is not HD capable and does not provide song tagging either which would be used to directly tell the unit what song is playing on the radio and of course where to buy it on iTunes.

Display: [***--] While the displayed function is descriptive and well organized, the lighting of the display is my greatest complaint as it sure is bright enough to function as a night light even in the lowest of the three settings. So if you're photosensitive and require (or prefer) "total darkness", this may be something to get used to. It would already help if the backlighting wasn't such a harsh White but a softer spectrum considering the application. Once asleep, I sure didn't spend another minute on this "issue" but had my "concerns" right before entering dream land. After all, Sony calls this a dream machine. ;-)

Value: [****-] In light of the recent offer which brought this radio clock to my home for $79, this has been a great offer to also provide that relatively rare compatibility with the iPhone. Online the price appears to have dropped to $69 and that's certainly even better. It always could be cheaper, but in the current market it's well aligned with similar functionality even at the MSRP of $99.

© 2008, theuerkorn


Recommend this product? Yes


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