Alarm docks are one of the most popular genres of charging docs for iOS devices. They not only charge your device while you sleep, but help to wake you up to tunes from your device, FM radio, or auxiliary sources such as chimes. I received a couple of docks over the past month that caught my attention, and here's a full review of both the Edifier Tock Tock Dock and XtremeMac Luna Voyager II -- two very different products that do the same thing.
Edifier Tick Tock Dock
I'm old enough to remember the good old wind-up alarm clocks. They had several really annoying habits, like ticking way too loud and scaring the crap out of me when they went off, but in a lot of ways they had some charm. They always had two bells on the top sticking out like ears, and a round face with a dial clock. Now Edifier has come up with a fun retro-styled dock for the iPhone and iPod touch called the Tick Tock Dock (US$79.99) that brings the old round alarm clock into the future.
Edifier is all about design, and this clever product is not only fun to look at, but works well as a alarm clock, as a charging speaker dock for your iPhone or iPod touch, and as an FM radio. The round face of the clock (which, alas, is digital) hides a big speaker as well as the dock for your iOS device. With a touch, a secret door pivots around to show the dock -- once you grab your iPhone, you can close the dock to make the Tick Tock Dock look more like a clock.
Those two "bells" that stick up from the top appear to hide two smaller speaker ports. On the top of the unit is a navigation pad for your Music app, and a toggle button to switch between functions and inputs (you can hook in an external input). On the back of the Tick Tock Dock are a 9V DC IN port, the AUX IN port, and four more buttons -- mode, set, down and up.
Setting the time and date on the clock is easy; you just dock your iPhone or iPod touch and it's done. But here's where the design begins to get a bit wonky. If you're like me, you like to be able to check the time at night, and with your iOS device plugged into the dock to charge, you can't see the clock face. Sure, you could hit the Home button on your device and check the time, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a large time display on the clock, doesn't it?
Once you've set the alarm -- on the dock, not on the iOS device, it will start up the music at the appointed time, with the volume gradually getting louder. That navigation pad serves as a snooze button, which gives you a brief respite (10 minutes) before you have to wake up and face the day.
The sound of the Tick Tock Dock is pretty good as "clock radios" go, providing amazingly good stereo separation. It can definitely get loud enough to wake almost anyone -- with the possible exception of one of my college roommates who could sleep through a direct hit by a meteor.
XtremeMac Luna Voyager II
The next dock I looked at was the XtremeMac Luna Voyager II ($69.99), a larger dock that can accommodate the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad -- although not simultaneously. The Luna Voyager II has a nice demarcation of device and clock, so you can actually see the clock when your iOS device is docked. In case you were wondering, that was a not-so-subtle jab at the design of the Tick Tock Dock.
XtremeMac refers to this as an "app-enhanced" accessory, meaning that when you dock your iOS device, you'll get a request to download and install an app. The app is the self-named "Luna Voyager II" app, and it's what you use to set up and use the alarms.
For setting dual alarms (one at 7:00 AM and the other at 8:30 AM, for instance), you just use the app. Tuning the radio? Use the app. Selecting a song to listen to when you wake up? The app. The Luna Voyager II app is, however, quite flawed -- especially when used with an iPad.
The dock works well with an iPhone or iPod touch, with the phone sliding right onto the Dock Connector and working with the app to synchronize alarms you have set with the actual dock. With the iPad, the app doesn't provide controls for setting the time of the alarm -- a major issue. I even tried XtremeMac's other app -- Alarm Clock -- but it's not designed to work with the dock. So while you can recharge your iPad with the Luna Voyager II and play tunes through the speaker, it doesn't work well as an alarm clock with an iPad.
The Luna Voyager II works well with the iPhone and iPod touch, but not so well with the iPad due to the lack of full app integration. I also found the iPad a bit difficult to dock on the Luna Voyager II. Some positives for the dock are that the company includes an FM radio antenna for better reception, and there's a small plastic stand for holding up your iOS device, especially important with the iPad.
I felt that the sound quality of the Tick Tock Dock was actually better than that of the Luna Voyager II, but if you're looking at buying the dock primarily for the purpose of using it as an alarm clock, it's going to do the job.
Conclusion and Giveaway
Both the Edifier Tick Tock Dock and XtremeMac Luna Voyager II are nice-looking products with some subtle flaws. The Tick Tock Dock is one of the happiest-looking iPhone docks I've ever seen, although the design makes it impossible to see the time on the clock when an iPhone is docked. I found the lack of an integrated app to be somewhat odd, but the superior sound quality of the Tick Tock Dock more than made up for that.
The XtremeMac Luna Voyager II is more traditional looking and includes an integrated app that works quite well with the iPhone and iPod touch. The dual alarm capability is wonderful for couples with different wake-up times, and since all settings are made through the app, there's no complicated dance to do with a bunch of buttons to get things to work.
Here's your chance to win one of these two docks and make sure that you wake up on time every morning. To enter, just fill out the form below completely and press the submit button. Follow the rules, get your entry in early, and you can be the happy owner of one of these two docks.
Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before April 15, 2012, 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
Two winners will be selected. One will receive an Edifier Tick Tock Dock valued at $79.99, while the other receives an XtremeMac Luna Voyager II valued at $69.99.