Review: The Edifier TickTock Dock
As I recently said on my podcast, dock accessories for the like of the iPod and iPhone are all too common these days so a new one has to have something really different or unique about it to raise much of an eyebrow. I was originally sent the Edifier TickTock Dock for possible inclusion in my eggnchips.com retro site but after spending a little time with the unit I thought it was interesting enough to include here as a closer look.
So, the TickTock Dock, or Docking Alarm Clock Speaker System with FM Radio to give it it’s long name, is a retro styled clock in the form of the old bedside bell ringer type clocks – and this one has been given something of a modern facelift.
There are two TickTock units currently available: the TickTock SD/USB/FM Radio which, as the name suggests, takes a memory card or USB stick and can also play FM Radio; and there is the unit we’ll be looking at in this review which is similar but instead of the memory card and USB Slot instead offers a dock connector.
For this review I will be testing the unit with a 6th generation iPod Nano and an iPhone 3GS.
In the Box
The box packaging is pretty minimal and it’s easy to get the unit out which is already a plus point from me. Inside the box is the dock itself, the user manual (in a number of languages), a 9 volt power adapter, and a 3.5mm audio connecting cable (in case you want to connect some other device to the clock).
The clock itself is pretty light with the specifications saying it weights around 600g which feels about right. The construction is plastic – including the bell ringers which helps keep the weight down but it’s a shame we won’t be hearing them clanging manually. The dock has a built-in display and is surrounding by the audio speakers – with two RMS 4.5W units delivering reasonable sound.
To set the unit up you just need to plug the power adaptor into the back of the unit and, interestingly, it sticks right out the back so pushing the clock against a wall is unlikely. However, once connected the TickTock springs into life with a welcome grey display.
Once the unit is connected up the first thing to do will be to set the FM region for standard radio reception (although the dock can also play the FM Radio from within the iPhone/iPod).
The FM settings are configured by pressing the INPUT button on the top of the unit until the display switches to FM after which you press and hold the FUNC button until you see “LOC.” appear in the display.
Using the track forward/back buttons on the top of the unit select FULL, EU (for China and Europe), ASIA, JAP (for Japan), US (for United States), or AUS (for Australia).
The next step is to search for available stations by pressing the FUNCT button until the phrase “SECH” appear in the display, after which you should press the play/pause button on top of the unit to begin the search for stations.
During setup the unit tuned the stations pretty quickly and I was soon listening to 100.1 FM (which is Classic FM in the UK).
The next step is to configure the time (although the time is synchronised with a connected device – upon connection). Setting the time manually is achieved by pressing the “Mode” button on the back of the unit then using the “Set” button to cycle through each setting and using the “Up” and “Down” buttons to change each setting – much like setting many standard digital clocks these days.
You can also set the sleep setting on the back of the device to enable or disable the sleep timer in steps between 15mins and 90mins.
On the back of the device is also located the power connector and the AUX In connector for connecting up a device that provides a suitable signal output – it’s a standard 3.5mm jack which is supported on most devices these days.
Connecting A Device
To connect a supported iPhone or iPod device you open the concealed panel on the front of the device which swings open to reveal the dock. For the first test I used an iPod nano 6th generation which sits quite happily on the dock.
Once positioned in place the unit needs to be placed into iPod mode by pressing the INPUT button, on top of the unit, at which point the time on the clock gets automatically synchronised. When this is done (it takes only a second or two) music tracks are available for play.
During playback of music information displayed on the TickTock includes the current track number and play time.
Either the connected device or the buttons on top of the unit can be used to control playback by changing track, playing/pausing and setting the volume level.
Next up, the iPhone 3GS was connected and the features worked in the same way however the iPhone completely blocks the display on the clock which kind of defeats the point of including the information on the clock display. However, it does sit comfortably enough on the dock connector and doesn’t look out of place.
On both units reception of FM radio was able to be controlled from the associated FM Radio application on the device.
With the design of this dock being based on a bell style block much of its appeal is likely to be based on the alarm functions so we’ll take a look at this next. First off, you can set up to five alarms which can be set using the “Mode” button on the back of the device until you get to the alarm screen – alarms are numbered A1 to A5 and can be set to on or off and a time associated with them. Setting the time of the alarm is the same process as setting the clock time but you can also specify the alarm source (FM or iPod only), alarm volume, and day setting (all 7 days or Mon-Fri only). Once activated the alarm will last for five minutes followed by a ten minute sleep time. If no action is taken during the alarm it will loop three times and finish off by placing the unit into standby mode. I was rather hoping to be able to set a bell type sound for the alarm but seemingly you can only choose between the FM Radio and iPod.
Overall the Edifier TickTock Dock is an interesting attempt at styling a dock into something more familiar and on the whole it works and the built-in clock and FM radio make it a device that could work quite happily on its own as well as with an iPhone or iPod attached. The display is nicely lit – it’s not too bright and yet not too dim, and the speakers make good use of their capacity, making the dock ideal for the bedroom.
The idea of hiding the dock connector itself behind a secret compartment is novel and very welcome. Though it is a shame the bell ringers are of plastic construction, with no bell sound, and that the power lead sticks right out the back. When connected with an iPod Nano (latest generation) the combination works well but stick an iPhone or iTouch in the dock and the clock display is obstructed so you cannot see the time! Hopefully, we may one day see an Edifier App which could make a big difference.
The Edifier TickTock Dock is currently retailing somewhere around £60 and colour options are black, white, and beige. You can learn more about the unit at the official website: Edifier International: TickTock Dock.