How do you wake up in the morning? Are you the type that prefers to do it naturally without any outside interference? Maybe you opt for some form of assistance such as sometimes happens in my case when my cat decides it is time for me to perform the important task of providing him with food. For many the preferred method is to rely on an alarm clock. Joining the range of possible alarm clock models available is the i-Station TimeCube from Logic3.
The i-Station TimeCube brings together support for the iPod / iPhone and FM radio to add to its basic alarm clock functionality. Measuring 9cm, this cube shaped device has a plastic feel to it and is perhaps a tad too large to be really considered as a travelling companion. Powered from the mains, the i-Station TimeCube comes with a power lead featuring a slot-in plug for two or three-pin adapters. The power socket, along with one for connecting an auxiliary device such as an MP3 player, is kept out-of-sight at the rear. A permanently attached wire aerial can also be found at the rear.
Predominately black in colour, the front face of the i-Station TimeCube has an 85mm LCD display. Orange in colour, this display shows the date, time and other information relating to the audio source and the alarm setting. Three levels of brightness, or should that be dimming, can be cycled through for the display which does tend to suffer from the affliction of finger smears caused as you fumble for the alarm switch while still half asleep in the morning.
Speaker grills are located on either side of the cube while the top houses the various controls plus the iPod docking station. The docking station will recharge your iPod device and provides the means to access its content. An adapter for use with the iPhone 3G/3Gs is supplied in the box.
Buttons are available to turn the device on/off; switch between the clock and alarm settings; choose the source by cycling between iPod, FM radio and auxiliary; cycle through the six supported pre-sets for the FM radio; and a long Snooze / Dimmer switch positioned near the front of the unit. Running along the left top edge of the cube is a pair of buttons for tuning the FM radio while volume controls are located in a similar position on the right.
Setting up the device with regards to the date, day and time should have been straightforward. After all the Instruction Manual included the step-by-step route you need to take in order to select the full date, time and day of the week. Any adjustment is meant to be carried out using the up / down volume controls on the right. However these controls proved to be rather temperamental. Sometimes they would respond to the pressure I was applying but not always. The result of this was that I needed to restart the process more than once from the beginning before I was able to enter the full date.
This problem also applied to setting an alarm. You are limited to a single alarm which could rouse you from your slumbers with audio from the FM radio, music from your iPod device or a buzzer with a user-selected volume level. The alarm can be set to run just on weekdays or every day for the workaholics. By pressing the long snooze / dimmer bar you can turn off the alarm for five minutes when it will be automatically reactivated. This cycle can be repeated as many times as you need to become fully awake. Turning off the alarm completely is carried out by the on/off button.
Rather than wake you with up in the morning, you can set the i-Station Time Cube to help you drift off to sleep. The Sleep mode can be set to last for a choice of 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes. Your sleep-encouraging audio can be supplied from the FM radio or your iPod.
Setting up the six pre-sets for the FM radio proved to be less problematic – perhaps because the volume level buttons played no part. When selecting one of the pre-sets you have no option but to work your way forward through each one to reach the one you want.
While I was satisfied with the audio quality and volume level delivered from the FM radio and my iPod Classic, I can not say the same when using an MP3 player connected to the LineIn socket at the rear of the unit. Even boosting the volume to maximum failed to produce an audio level of a reasonable standard. Adjusting the audio lead made no difference to the output.
Overall the i-Station TimeCube performs adequately but could hardly be said to be the easiest device to set up. Logic3 has put a £39.99 price tag on this product which will be available from Sainsbury’s, HMV, Maplin, Tesco, Micro Anvika, Amazon, Play.com and Logic3.com.
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