Despite doing it without fail every day of my life, waking up is a hard business that I’ve not managed to improve on with age. Nas had the right idea. Maybe next year I’ll get the hang of it. Until then I find myself relying on a series of gadgets and old fashioned techniques to free myself from Morpheus’s clutches. I’ve tried sleeping with the curtains open, so warm sun rays bathe my face with light. I’ve also tried fake sun rays from alarm clocks that emulate daylight. But nothing works quite as well as piercing noises from iPhone to jolt me back to consciousness – I’m partial to the Siren sounds as it reminds me of the time’s up sound on GoldenEye on the N64. I haven’t woken up, startled, mumbling “well of course you won – you were playing with Odd Job” but it’s only a matter of time.
Of course a vanilla iPhone just sitting on my bedside is no fun and there are many ways to enhance this – the newest and shiniest of which is the Tick Tock Dock alarm clock speaker system by Edifier. Taking a page out of the book of many, many apps, the Tick Tock Dock adopts skeumorphic design and looks like an old fashioned alarm clock. Not that looks are everything, but the design of the Tick Tock Dock is, much like the name, incredibly charming.
The Tick Tock Dock has two 360 degree omni-directional full range speakers so you can have some slightly less tinny sound by your bedside. The speakers are decent for something so small but won’t turn you into Radio Rahim if that’s what you’re looking for.
If you are a big fan of conventional radio without resort to apps like Wunderadio there is also a built in FM radio so you it’s not just an empty shell for iOS device. And non-iOS device users can use the auxiliary 3.5 mm input to allow other devices to play along.
The Tick Tock Dock is available in Black, Silver and Beige from Amazon at £59.99
If you use a laptop or notebook, but want something better from your sound (as these devices are not well known for their speaker quality), you’re hardly going to cart around a set of speakers, which is why the Sound To Go system from Edifier is such a good idea.
This elegant all-in-one micro speaker system is housed in a brushed aluminium tube and plugs in to your device via USB. Its wedge-shaped design means it will sit nicely below the screen on your laptop, or indeed on a desk or table if you prefer.
With full US streaming capabilities, the Sound To Go system comes with a soft carry case to protect it while you’re out and about.
It also features an AUX input so that you can connect other digital audio capable devices. The whole kaboodle measures just 261 x 36 x 44mm and costs £49.99 from Amazon and Micro Direct. An excellent choice if you have chosen not to lash out on a high-spec multimedia device with excellent sound quality.
For home use, Edifier has just launched the Prime USB speaker system. This dyanamic 2.0 multimedia USB Hub system features USB audio streaming and regular analogue audio input capabilities.
The full range speaker drivers are mounted in white satellites (which, I have to say, are rather like Marmite, you’ll either love ’em or hate ’em) and offer a 4 USB Hub connection, which gives a single point of connectivity for keyboards, mice, data transfer and other USB-enabled devices.
The Prime USB speaker system costs £49.99 also from Amazon and Micro Direct.
A quick glance at my inbox will tell you that the iPod dock market is over saturated, with manufacturers pumping out different varieties of iAccessory faster than we can review them. Some choose to differentiate themselves by feature-set, others by design and some compete on price alone.
At £169 the Edifier Breathe is far from cheap. Weighing in at 5 kg, the unit has a certain amount of heft to it and feels solidly constructed. The sparse play-skip-volume button-set on the front makes it abundantly clear that this is a no-nonsense device, with a limited or focused feature set depending on your point of view.
The unique qualities of the Breathe therefore are its design and sound. Moving away from the classic boom-box style design of most iPod docks, the Breathe has, what pretty much every review I’ve seen, including this one, is calling an eggshell design. It looks a little odd … but strangely seemed to work on one of my living room tables and also in the kitchen. People would comment on this. Depending on your taste this is a good or bad thing.
The supplied remote is an odd puck-shaped device that is a little too basic for my liking. Navigation is done via the a menu button and arrow keys – in a style reminiscent of the iPod classic – but it’s almost impossible to navigate without looking directly at the screen of the iPod. It’s also directly line of sight – which can make it a touch fiddly. It’s also very easy to place your finger over the infra-red sensor, blocking remote signals.
Most importantly of course is the sound quality. Audiophiles will be disappointed, but disappointment is intrinsic to their existence so that’s not a massive criticism. The Breathe promises room-filling sound – and more or less delivers on this. For something that is relatively, small it has a pretty impressive bass punch and would be fine for a small room, student digs or a living room. It is also incredibly straight forward to use, with an almost idiot proof button set.
If the feature-packed trappings of other docks leave you cold – not everyone wishes to use DAB or stream over DLNA – then the Breathe’s combination of simplicity and reasonably impressive sound should be up your alley. Minor quibbles about the remote aside, if you like the look of the Edifier Breathe, then it is definitely worth taking a listen.