Tivoli Model Three Clock Radio Reviews

Tivoli Model Three Clock Radio

10 ratings (10 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: OK
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$299.99
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I really want to love this.

Oct 19, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: OK

  • Durability:
  • Sound:

Pros:Glorious sound, great tuner, beautiful materials

Cons:Alarm clock that is awkward at best. Inexcusable for the price.

The Bottom Line: Spend your money on a Model 2. Find a better (and cheaper) way to wake yourself up.


I have two problems writing this review. First, I'm an optimist. If I can give a product the benefit of the doubt, I will. Second, I'm not a rebel or anything, but it hurts me a little bit to go with the flow. I want to be the one to stand up and say, "They're all wrong! It's wonderful!" So I'm reluctant to address the troubles with the Model 3. But if you know about them before you spend a small pile of money, then you'll be better off than I. So here goes...

First, the positives. This is a beautiful piece of equipment. The tuner is excellent, the radio reception (especially with the optional added antenna) is great, and the sound is basically beyond compare for something so small. Build quality is impressive, and the look and feel of real wood is too cool for school. It's a sweet thing to have on your nightstand.

One feature worth special mention: This machine has an "aux in" jack in the back, and the whole thing runs on 1/4 inch mini cables. What this means is that, with the addition of a $5 cable from Radio Shack, you can run your iPod through it, and never leave your room again. Hallelujah.

What I wanted when I bought this was a dual alarm, so my wife and I could deal with our respective schedules without bothering each other too much. (Since then we've acquired a couple of dogs, so we don't really sleep late enough to need an alarm clock, but that's a whole different story.) The Tivoli offers you the ability to place an alarm on each side of the bed, and have the two of them combine to form a sweet little stereo system. We have no other audio upstairs, so this was a primary consideration for me.

Many of the issues cited in previous reviews are not really huge problems. The controls are a little awkward, but they're quickly memorized. The snooze button is bizarre, but it works if you hit it soon enough. The clocks run on batteries, but so what? If the power fails, you'll be thankful, and the battery will last a year or more. The clocks are also analog, which means that the wake time is only accurate to plus or minus five minutes. If that's really a big deal to you, then I don't want your life. Besides, once you get the hang of it, this margin becomes much smaller.

There are, however, one or two seriously incomprehensible design decisions here. First, the clocks are set via a "thumb wheel," which is virtually impossible to move with your thumb. Basically, you need two hands- one to move the wheel and one to keep the unit from falling off the table. For reasons I will never understand, this wheel only turns in one direction, and you are warned that trying to go the other way may damage the equipment. Now I'm no rocket scientist, but the bidirectional thumb wheel seems far from the pinnacle of engineering to me. The only plus to "the wheel" is that it's fast, even in one direction, much faster than setting a digital model.

Also disappointing is the fact that the sleeper on the side of the companion speaker (and dual alarm) has no option for setting the alarm to "radio." The tone is the only option. Pleasant tone and everything, but still...

The dials on the clocks are backlit, and this light cannot be dimmed. The clocks themselves are mystifying, since both hands are the same length. I'm not making this up, I swear. The hour hand is wider than the minute hand, not shorter, and the whole clock is concealed behind the aforementioned thumb wheel. If you have glasses or lenses that you take out at night, it can be some time before you figure out what time it is.

These issues, one at a time, could all be overlooked, but here's the thing, which leads me to the focal point of this review: this equipment is not cheap. The clock radio will cost you $199. The companion speaker with the dual alarm is another $99. Call me stingy, but I should not have to sit here and make apologies for a $300 alarm clock. It should work, simply, intuitively, and without fail. For this kind of money, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a little bit of luxury. The audio system provides this. It's the functionality of the alarm that will leave you scratching your head.

The Model 2 is the same audio system without the clock. It sells for $160. So, added to the issues with the alarm is the sobering thought that you're paying $70 each for two battery-powered, analog alarm clocks. This is the point where my usually sunny, optimistic disposition simply calls it a day. I can't recommend that kind of investment.

By all means, buy the Model 2 if you need a small, truly impressive stereo system. You'll love it. But ten bucks at Office Depot will get you a better alarm that won't leave you pondering that empty place in your bank account.


Recommend this product? No


Amount Paid (US$): 199

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