Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Clock Radio – A Saga

Who would've thought a clock radio could cause such problems?

Some background: we've been using the same clock radio for about 30+ years. Worked fine for most of its life. Old-fashioned in its simplicity. A round dial for the volume, a round dial to find the station. Buttons for setting the time and setting the alarm. Pull a small tab forward and you're loaded for bear (in a manner of speaking). When the alarm goes off hit the stop button or, more often, the snooze.

Five or so years ago the clock radio began showing signs of its age. It still worked, but sometimes to get sound instead of static we had to lift one end and drop it, I guess to shake up the internals. Worked like that for a couple of years.

But as time zipped on, we felt  we should get a new clock radio. So we did. Fell for the flash and hype – this one shone the time on the ceiling.

Huh. Never did get that feature to work. The clock was user-unfriendly, difficult to set up. For us it simply did not work.

So, back to old lift and drop. It worked for about another year. Then it got crabby. Like an old woman, my husband said. Hah. More like an old geezer, I said.

After a two day power outage, there were times we couldn't set the time. Even after dropping it several times. The clock worked, the radio worked, although a bit staticky, the alarm worked. Just couldn't set the proper time.

So, we bought another new one. Sleek, stylish, sounded great. It even allowed you to set two alarms. Now this might be nice for some people. But we only wanted one alarm. And though it worked to wake us up at the time we wanted, it also, twelve hours later, alarmed us again. Not fine, even if we were home and could turn it off. Definitely not fine if nobody was home.

We tried to turn the second alarm feature off. The instructions were in six languages, and something must've been lost in translation because we could not figure out how to fix the problem.

Back to the crabby geezer. I guess after a rest he was ready for a last hurrah. Worked for a time, but very grouchy. And then finally it retired.

We bought another one. This one was surely made by aliens on another planet. To get anything to work we had to hold down one unmarked button and at the same time punch another unmarked one until we came to the required setting. None of the buttons stated what they were for – time, alarm, volume, etc. We had to refer to the picture and the instructions to discover what was what.

Well, that was a bust, and we no longer had crabby geezer to revive.

So I hunted for a simple clock radio, one that you don't need a degree in technology to use. And I found the exact one that I wanted at Amazon. A nice little box, control buttons on top, easy to set, nice big numbers to brighten or dim. Sounded great, worked great.


We usually don't set the alarm unless we need it to get up at a certain time. Well last night was just such a time. We needed to set it to get up early this morning. But – the big bright numbers were gone, the face was completely blank.  Plugging it in and out did start it. Neither did pushing all the buttons.

What on earth? Broken already. What a piece of crap!

We resorted to reading the instructions. And there was the answer. The clock is equipped with a backup battery that keeps the time settings if the power goes out. However, if the power is out and the battery goes dead, the clock face vanishes. A four day power outage
a few weeks ago caused the damage. Not helped by a power outlet that had kicked out.

Trying to find the battery was an adventure. It was tucked in to a little hole underneath a tab. The battery had to be wiggled out of the hole.

We needed another battery. Not one of those AA or AAA. Noooo. One of those that's the size of a quarter and probably costs twenty-five dollars.

No time today to get it, so without a clock radio again.

And now that I think of it, why can't we just use a radio-less clock? It's not like we sit there and listen to music. At the most three minutes, between snooze and turning it off.

Thinking more about it, I want to get one of those old-time windup alarms. The kind with the round face and an old-fashioned dial clock, bells on top, legs on the bottom. The kind with no lights, no music, no buzzer, no degree needed to use. Set the time and the alarm, wind it up. Loud shrill ring. No snooze button. Just wake up.

Update: we now have an old-fashioned alarm as shown above. This is our backup.

– Cat