Pros: Atomic sync, great signal reception, customizable alarms
Cons: Less than intuitive user interface, smaller control buttons
This Sangean product delivers, though it does posses its quirks in the programming department. Within moments of unboxing the clock radio and plugging it in, it began seeking the atomic time signal provided by WWVB in Colorado, and even here in SE FL (Fort Lauderdale) it was able to sync at a relatively early 9PM. For those of you who own Casio (or other) atomic sync watches and live at the further reaches of the WWVB signal, you know that they often seem to perform their syncs best later in the evenings, say at 1-3AM. This is due to the manner in which the signal from CO propagates during nighttime hours, and I for one was surprised to see the Sangean grab and sync a signal before midnight.
Anyways, on to the review of the clock radio's functions and use. First, I have to say, one simply doesn't appreciate how wonderful it is to NEVER HAVE TO SET your bedside alarm clock radio, especially in a place like SE FL where power outages happen from time to time. I cannot stress enough how nice it is to just let the thing do its work and see the time pop up correctly. There's a slider on the bottom of the unit that corresponds to US time zones, so once you pick yours and let the radio sync, you're done setting it ever again.
The alarm system consists of two that can be set to wake via radio or buzzer, and each can be set individually for every day of the week. If my wife needs to wake up on Saturdays at 8AM, the alarm can be set to an individual time for that day, as opposed to the rest of the days or the workweek, as can the second alarm. This really makes it a "set it and forget it" type of deal, as once the days of the week alarms are configured to your liking, you're done.
The setup method is not overly complicated, but it's different from most other alarm clocks in that you choose the time, day, and method of wakeup instead of a generic time no matter the day. The actual setup method does involve cycling through a number of steps, though it's not too bad once one understands how the clock's alarms work.
Enough on the alarm system - though I will say the buzzer's HWS (Humane Wakeup System) does afford one a bit more peaceful wakeup than the usual full-on blaring beeping sounds. The radio in the unit has proven to be excellent at locking in the programmed station, no fade at all, and is able to pick up far more AM and FM stations that our old Sony analog slider-dial radio, which was quite susceptible to drift. It's no fun waking up to blaring talk radio on 105.5 when the radio was set to 105.9 music the night before. The Sangean eliminates drift entirely, and really locks in the frequency requested.
Buttons on the unit are a bit tiny, and do require some practice / getting used to. Once learned and programmed, though, setting the alarms is a one-touch process, as is using the slightly small snooze button. A cool feature that I'm sure most will find useful is the adjustable dimmer switch. The unit has a standard daytime brightness, but with the dimmer, the nighttime brightness can be dialed down from light up the room mode to nearly totally dark. The rotary switch that controls nighttime mode is on the bottom of the unit, though, so it takes some patience and tweaking to find the right light level.
Overall, this unit's atomic synch capabilities coupled with it's outstanding, fade- and drift-free signal reception, adjustable brightness levels, daily alarm programmability, and general ease of use once set up, earn it four+ stars in my book. The only real drawbacks I can see are its somewhat less than user-friendly setup procedures. A real winner, and I don't think I'll ever get another alarm clock.