Spot Cool Stuff does not understand why most of the world’s alarm clocks wake their owners with a jarring buzz or annoying beep. We can imagine some worse ways to be awoken—eg. via cobra bite, bucket of cold water or missile attack—but not many.
Imagine instead being woken by the sound of birds chirping, wind chiming, jungles jungling (or by the radio playing or whatever tune you wish from your iPod) as a soft bedside light gradually brightens over a period of several minutes. That’s how one starts one’s day with the Philips HF3490 iPod clock radio.
The iPod dock fits any device that uses a standard iPod connector (so, not the Shuffle but the iPod touch, iPod Classic, and recent iPod Nanos). We’ve heard a few third-hand accounts of people who had various issues with the dock but we had none.
The light unit has a variable intensity bulb that can put out up to 300 lux (which is reasonably, though not blindingly, bright) as well as the speakers, radio and cool-looking LED clock display set into the light. The light unit is sold on its own, without the iPod dock, though the online stores we checked (Amazon, for example) inexplicably charge the exact same with or without the iPod dock.
What’s the downside of the Philips HF3490? Most of all: the cost. The current price of $199 is a bit steep (though not outrageously so given the novelty of the product). The unit’s speakers are only slightly better than your typical hotel room clock radio, which is to say that you won’t be using the Philips HF3490 to play the tunes for your next dance party. Also, to replace the lightbulb you have to send the entire unit in to Philips, though this isn’t as much of an issue as you may initially believe considering that the bulb is rated to last at least 6,000 hours (or 7+ years).
Spot Cool Stuff is happy to live with those downsides in exchange for a more gentle means of waking up. We also like how this iPod clock radio has a dusk mode with a red-hued light that simulates a sunset as you fall asleep.
Altogether the Philips HF3490 an ideal way to start—and end—your day.
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