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Gear 4 BlackBox 24/7 

This is what used to be called a clock radio but with the ability to accept input from any device with a 3.5mm jack socket. It also has a dock for almost any kind of iPod. It has FM radio and of course a good sized clock display with two alarms and of course a snooze setting, so now the iPod has invaded the ‘clock radio’ bedroom.

gear4 blackbox speaker system
click image to enlarge

It is 26.5x10x12cm however the power lead protrudes 2.5cm from the rear thus increasing the middle figure the depth to 12.5cm. You will probably not be surprised to hear it is black. My iPod is white and this sits in the multi unit dock on the top increasing the third figure the height by 8cm however this will change according to the type of iPod you have.

There is of course a remote control but in this case I really doubt it is required as surely the whole point of a clock radio is that it is beside your bed. There are seven touch buttons on the top of the unit marked - ↓ M on/off E ↑ + and these after a read of the six pages of the multi language user manual in English should be enough to do –almost- everything that is required.

The base has a door behind which is a cavity to insert two ‘AA’ batteries, while these are not essential it does retain saved radio stations the two alarm settings and the time should there ever be a power cut. There are three connectors on the back power, auxiliary (3.5mm jack) and a wire FM aerial.

Since it has a remote I suppose I should mention it, small enough to easily lose at 10x4x.5cm it has 15 buttons including one that is not available on the main unit the snooze button, however by the time you have located the remote you will probably be wide awake so its use is negated. Maybe if it had a dock on the side of the unit. In fact you can snooze the unit by using the on/off button; this gives you an extra nine minutes.

The speaker is mounted to produce sound from near the base. To explain it has a solid base 1cm thick then a 1.5 open area with just a central support before the main body of the unit. The sound quality is good from iPod, MP3 player or any other device capable of being connected via a 3.5mm jack. I was slightly less happy about the FM radio the 1.3 metre wire aerial needs to be carefully sighted to give good reception and this of course varies according to where the station is you are listening to. One nice point the wire ends in a loop that can easily have say a drawing pin inserted and then attached to say a window frame.

The clock image is red and the numerals are 3x2cm making them easy to read even when you are struggling to focus when you first open your eyes. The display also shows what device you are using iPod, Aux or Radio and indeed AL1 or AL2. Pressing the on/off button briefly gives a choice of a pale blue light under the unit or not.

I have found a couple of things that can only be set from the remote that’s the sleep timer and the nap timer both require the ‘Z’ button on the remote and both can be set at 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. The nap feature is something I have not come across recently and is a nice one.

The one thing that cannot be set from the remote is the clock this must be set from the Black Box.

There are five different sleeves provided for your iPod that cover most that I know of. Once inserted in the dock even if you are using the Radio or Aux your iPod is being charged.

While close to £60 for a clock radio is not cheap it is well designed and of course you have the option of iPod and Aux as well as the Radio. Possible things that could make it even better are the ability to have presets and maybe even a DAB option. The clock only displays in 12 hour mode and this means the possibility of setting the alarm wrongly as it is easy to miss the ‘PM’ icon on the display. Also the aforementioned dock for the remote on the side of the unit.

Doing my Internet searches for the Gear4 BlackBox 24/7 found it at a best price of £65.94 including free delivery from the first link below.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001ANPZI8?ie=UTF8&tag=gadge0a-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634

http://www.gear4.com/product_detail.php?products_id=471

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OverallGear 4 BlackBox 24/7 rated 68 out of 100

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