So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Line-in, equaliser settings
- Audio quality leaves a fair bit to be desired, snooze button is too small
If you're sick of waking up to your default alarm or the radio and want something new to spice up your mornings then the TDK iCUBIC may be just what you need. Just don't expect brilliant audio quality.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Sporting a white, cubic design complete with a monochrome LCD display, TDK's aptly named iCUBIC offers a reasonable solution for people who want to wake up to something other than a generic radio. Combining an iPod dock with alarm clock functionality and a remote control, the iCUBIC is a fairly multipurpose device, however the audio quality leaves a little to be desired.
Functionally this unit performs as you'd expect. IPod support is of course a given, and is a simple matter of plugging your player into the dock on the top of the unit and switching the playback mode. An FM receiver is also included complete with station presets as well as a line-in, allowing a non-Apple MP3 player to be connected. Any of these options can be used as the alarm when the clock function is operating, as well as for regular play back.
Configuring the clock and alarm times is a little fiddly as you need the remote to do at least part of it (several buttons are present here that aren't on the unit itself). Nonetheless, you should only have to do this a handful of times so it isn't really an issue. The remote itself is extremely handy, allowing full navigation of the iPod menu instead of just offering basic play back controls like pause and track skip. It is extremely responsive and easy to use.
Repeat play and equaliser presets are both included and you'll most definitely need the latter as the default sound leaves quite a bit to be desired. At low volumes everything sounds reasonably good although a little flat at times. When we cranked it up slightly higher, however, we encountered quite a bit of distortion, particularly in the bass notes.
The overall sound is quite bright, with harsh, tinny highs and an overall lack of bass. The mid range is relatively good with a decent amount of detail and clarity, but nonetheless it isn't enough to make up for the hollow sounding bass. The equaliser presets went some way towards correcting this, particularly the 'rock' option, which gave much more weighting to the low register notes. That said, you should keep in mind that the iCUBIC is only an alarm clock. It isn't designed to be an audiophile level device.
Aesthetically the iCUBIC is fairly stylish. It comes in a glossy iPod white colour scheme, which is quite ironic considering the iPod's shift to black and silver. The buttons are scattered along the top around the LCD and don't detract from the overall look. One complaint we do have is the snooze button. It is rather small and not particularly well positioned. At the time most people use the snooze button, precision is the last thing on their minds, and thus we feel it should be a lot bigger and more central.
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