Friday, August 08, 2008

Timex Clock Radio for Sansa (TS70)

- Got it for $35 shipped from for use with my sansa e280.
- I really like the design. It has a nice large display and takes up less night stand space than my old clock radio with it's more cylindrical tower design.
- Dual alarm.
- Battery backup uses 2XAA which I much prefer to the usual 9 volt since I always have lots of spare AA batteries.
- Has a thin wire for fm antenna and a detachable loop style AM antenna.
- It has a digital tuner (my old sony was still analog dial type tuning). It has 3 preset buttons. Hitting the radio button toggles through fm1, fm2, am, and line in. So you get 6 presets for fm.
- There is a standard 1/8 mini stereo jack on the back for line in and includes a short cable (had to clean the tips with rubbing alcohol) to hook up any mp3 player you want.

- Indiglo has 3 brightness settings including completely turning it off. I found the brightest setting to light up half the bedroom while the lowest setting was fine.
- Good positioning of the snooze bar. Volume buttons are kind of awkwardly stuck on the side.
- It does come with a remote control.

- The sound quality is average. It sounds a lot better than the typical cheap $10 clock radio but don't expect it to come close to any of the more popular ipod sound dock type devices. Then again this isn't really meant to directly compete with those. First of all it's mono. It gets plenty loud enough but will distort if you have the bass cranked up.
- I really like how when the alarm goes off it starts quiet and slowly increase to full volume. This seems to wake up more calmly instead of blasting you at full volume and startling you awake. This is probably the best feature of the whole clock radio. It really makes a difference in how you feel when you wake up.
- First odd omission is the inability to wake up to music from the sansa. You can only wake up to radio or buzz. It does have a sleep mode where you can listen to the sansa over a period of time where it slowly fades it out and eventually turns it off.
- I have a very recent build of rockbox installed on my sansa e280. With rockbox you can dual boot between rockbox firmware or the original firmware (hold down LEFT while booting). The good news is rockbox kind of works with the timex. The timex detects the sansa being connected, rockbox shows it is getting external power, and sound does work. What doesn't work are any of the play, forward, back, power buttons. Oh well at least it kind of works and you don't need to use the 1/8 aux input. The advantage of using rockbox is the ability to read the 8gb microsdhc card I have in it.

- When using the original firmware of course everything works as expected: it charges the sansa while letting you play music and full navigation/power buttons work from the remote and the buttons on top of the unit.

- With the cheap plastic crystal case I use the sansa doesn't quite work with the docking slot. If I angle it just right I can get it to dock enough to get power but not enough for anything else. So just a warning for those of you who like to use your sansa with a case on all of the time that this might be an issue.

As a clock radio I was pretty impressed with it: great size and physical design, good button locations for the most part, good sound for a clock radio, digital tuner, etc. The 1/8 aux input is a nice bonus feature. As far as sansa support it's ok. It's nice to be able to charge the sansa but the mono speaker isn't that great for serious music listening. It's not bad for audio books/podcasts though. I think $35 is a fair price for a device like this but I wouldn't pay much more. It's a great clock radio but an average sansa dock.

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