In the search for the perfect iPod alarm clock, there have been winners and there have been duds. Macally's TunePro ($129) looks like a winner, but its complex settings might be overwhelming for those who have a hard time forming complete sentences before that first cup of coffee.
The Macally TunePro crams an AM/FM radio, alarm clock, and iPod speaker dock into an attractive 13x4.5x5 inches of space. The TunePro's most stunning feature is its semi-opaque, mirrored flat-panel speaker design. A light-blue LCD clock readout is located in the upper-right corner, clearly visible behind the mirrored surface. Buttons (14 total) for various functions are located on both the front and back of the TunePro. Although the many buttons afford a luxurious amount of control, a simple task such as setting the TunePro's alarm can be overwhelming at first. If you need an alarm clock that can be set during those comatose hours of the night, the TunePro is a poor choice.
The more patient among you will be rewarded by the TunePro's extensive set of features, including AM radio; FM radio; give station presets; iPod playback; two independent alarms; auxiliary input, SRS WOW sound enhancement; bass and treble EQ adjustment; snooze timer adjustment (from 1 minute to 4 minutes); and a clock dimmer control. As connoisseurs of iPod alarm clocks, we especially appreciated nuances such as the gradual rise in volume when the iPod or radio is selected as the alarm. For those long nights when your iPod doesn't quite make it into the cradle, the TunePro intelligently defaults to a buzzer alarm.
Despite all the TunePro's many features, we were disappointed that it doesn't include a battery backup for the clock. Instead, the TunePro is strictly powered from an AC adapter with an ample 5-foot cord length. We know power outages are rare, but it's always nice to have the extra insurance. We also would like a bigger snooze button, preferably placed away from our fragile iPod.
We're always skeptical of flat-panel speaker systems, but the TunePro kicks out some serious sound. We found the clarity and definition of the TunePro's audio to be nowhere near the quality of iPod speaker systems such as the Altec Lansing iM600 or Griffin Amplifi, but it does a remarkable job for its size. The volume output on the TunePro is more than adequate to roust all but the heaviest of sleepers. The only drawback we came across in our alarm clock testing is that the mirrored surface of the TunePro can be a rude awakening first thing in the morning (nobody should have to see themselves that early).