Latest cool gadgets – Review- Sony ICF-CL75iP Dream Machine clock radio with iPod / iPhone dock – Coolest new electronic technology gadgets blog


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When we were first sent the new Sony ICF-CL75iP, the first impression was great, now we can compare it to the ICF-C8WM which we reviewed earlier, a few months ago. But if you read on, you’ll find that during the process of reviewing the ICF-CL75iP, we became increasingly aware that they’re in fact, not comparable. Even if you take away the obvious, that is that both devices support different music players.

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Design

When we first unboxed the ICF-CL75iP, we thought it was pretty good at passing that high end ‘expensive’ product impression. Indeed, it isn’t a cheap clock radio, but for a product made by Sony, you do get the feeling that you’re getting what you paid for. Is it a digital picture frame? A clock radio? Or an iPod / iPhone dock? I have to say just looking at it, no one would know that its an iPod dock, as its dock is so well hidden. To us it felt like a digital picture frame, this is supported by that nice slim, slick body and a very vibrant seven inch WVGA display.

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Its not too heavy, as opposed to what we said about the ICF-C8WM, we actually think if you were to travel abroad for example, the ICF-CL75iP would make a good companion as it is quite portable. We also felt that the ICF-CL75iP had a number of improvements over the ICF-C8WM, for example, it had fewer buttons and appeared to be much more organised, thus making it easier to grasp and learn. Also, there are no pesky buttons around the back, which was a design that we found inconvenient in the ICF-C8WM.

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The snooze button is long and located at the very top of the clock, an obvious good choice of location for those mornings where you just don’t want to look!

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What is around the back is the USB port and the memory card slot. It is arguable to some to have these located at the back but then again, you won’t be needing to use them daily would you? So we weren’t too unhappy about this.

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Disappointingly, the ICF-CL75iP had a rather large and chunky power adapter which is not detachable. In addition, we were surprised to not find a remote control (was available in the more affordable ICF-C8WM), which meant all the functions and features described below rely on you being sat next to the clock as you would need to be able to press the buttons.

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User Interface

Unlike the ICF-C8WM, the ICF-CL75iP actually does have menus and an interface which you need to navigate around. Its such a shame that it wasn’t a touchscreen, you’d think it was one if we didn’t show you the buttons below it. Generally speaking, it was easy to use. We liked the way functions which were running in the background were indicated on the bottom left whereas connected devices such as USB sticks, memory cards, or iPod / iPhone were displayed at the bottom right.

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As you will expect, you can change the time to be displayed in 12 hours or 24 hours formats, there are also plenty of settings which you can customise to suit your needs. In addition, you can change the background image of the clock to one fixed image or have it as a slideshow of all your images. However, its not possible to change the theme of the UI, but we’re not complaining too much there. We wouldn’t describe the UI as snappy, at times it did seem laggy to us, when you press on a function it doesn’t always pop right into it, but this was just on some occasions.

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One last feature of note regarding the UI is the options button which you can press no matter what function you’re using. It comes up as a pop-up menu on the right. We found this to be quite handy, it gives you quick shortcuts to your alarms.

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Music, Video and Photos

When you want to use these functions, you will notice, all three of them will first ask you where you want to access these files from. Sources can either be from the internal memory (built-in 1GB), memory card slot or the USB. You will notice that there isn’t an option for iPod / iPhone, as this comes under a separate function. The video player was basic but was adequately designed for watching clips and short videos, but its probably not the device you want for watching films, etc…

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Browsing photos on the ICF-CL75iP was a pleasure, it gives relevant details on the photo and worked great with its high quality display. Annoyingly, as one of our readers who happens to have just bought one of these will know, its not possible to delete Sony’s default images, there are six of them. This means you’ll end up displaying someone else’s kid during an image slideshow, which is a very odd thing for Sony to do.

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AM/FM Radio

The ICF-CL75iP’s radio function boasts 30 slots (20 for FM and 10 for AM) for your preset stations and has all the functions that you would need for a radio such as frequency scanning and the ability to set the radio station you want for your alarm, etc… We thought the ICF-CL75iP’s sound quality was considerably superior compared to the ICF-C8WM when we used the radio function. This could have been accounted for by the front stereo speaker equipped with 1W + 1W RMS output.

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iPod and iPhone Docking

The iPod and iPhone docking functions stands out as a feature on its own, however, we didn’t feel there was a need to do this. It wasn’t different as such in any way, just that it accessed from a different source. You will notice that there is one thing missing, it seems the ICF-CL75iP won’t read your iPod or iPhone’s photos.

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When your iPod or iPhone is docked, it will be charged by the ICF-CL75iP. Additionally, you will be able to browse your iPod using the ICF-CL75iP’s menu keys. You can of course also change tracks, control volume, etc…

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Importing Data

You can use the import function to store your own images, music (AAC-LC / MPEG-3 / PCM) and videos (MP4, AVI) into its 1GB internal memory. You cannot however, import anything from your iPod or iPhone, that includes music, videos and photos. The only possible sources were memory card or USB.

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Apart from the slight problem described above, generally the import feature was quite well designed. You can also select multiple files to import all at once, this was not within our expectations.

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Making sure you get up!

There’s nothing worst than buying an alarm clock that won’t be able to wake you up in the morning for that important job interview. We think the ICF-CL75iP won’t give you that opportunity to make such an excuse. Sony has been clever like with the ICF-C8WM, in giving the ICF-CL75iP a backup battery supply so that if you run into blackouts after you’ve set your alarm while you’re asleep, you can be relieved that the alarm function will be retained and kept going. However, don’t overestimate this feature, as it does not mean you will still be able to see the clock running when your electricity is out, the backup battery is only for keeping your alarm going.

With the ICF-CL75iP, you get two alarms, as you will have seen in the previous photos, there is a button on either side of the display which act as a quick shortcut to these. As you can see, you can set the volume, date and the sound of the alarm. Alarm sounds available include literally everything, from radio to iPod and customised sounds you record for yourself using its built-in microphone, Sony really has made a lot of effort to ensure that you get up coolest top new fun latest gadgets :)

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Conclusion

Overall, we felt the ICF-CL75iP was quite a sophisticated machine for an alarm clock, but when you think about it, it does a lot more than just radio and alarm. Therefore, for a pricetag of £120 – £150 (depending where you look), you could consider that Sony has put together an all in one digital picture frame, radio, alarm clock and iPod / iPhone charging dock premium product at a price which really isn’t too bad. We could have been harsh in criticising a lack of touchscreen but if it had a touchscreen, the ICF-CL75iP would not have been in this price range for a Sony product. As always, there will inevitably be downfalls, and for us it was definitely a lack of remote control and the inability to import from an iPod or an iPhone. Overall, we were quite impressed with the ICF-CL75iP, here’s a quick highlight of the good and the bad:

Pros:

Good design, slick body and lighweight
High quality WVGA display
Good speaker quality
Easy to use UI
Multiple media source compatibility including memory card slot, USB port and iPod / iPhone dock
Not only that you’ll be able to charge your iPod / iPhone, you can also use it to charge your USB gadgets!
Good alarm features including numerous sound options

Cons:

Bulky power adapter and non-detachable
No remote control
Does not import any media from iPod / iPhone
Cannot access photos on iPod / iPhone


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