Memorex iWake series
Goooood morning, iPod owners. Having to wake up early for work or school is annoying enough, but add to that the irritating buzz of your alarm clock and you could be waking up on the wrong side of the bed. The Memorex iWake hopes to make your day a little brighter by jolting you awake with your favorite tunes from your iPod. The iWake isn't the first iPod-compatible alarm clock on the market--SDI Technologies released the iHome iH5 last year--but the iWake features a more streamlined design and more affordable price tag ($79.99) than the iH5 does. Plus, it includes a remote and has SRS Wow sound-enhancement technology. However, it's not perfect. Sound quality is mediocre and there's no option to turn off the LCD backlight, but for iPod owners looking for a compatible alarm clock, the iWake is a fine choice.
Available in black or white, the iWake will make a nice bedroom accessory with its sleek and streamlined look; it's a more attractive option than the iHome iH5, in our opinion. On the front panel, there's a sizeable LCD display that's easy to read and comes with two backlight settings: L or H, which we presume means low or high. There's a switch on the back of the unit so that you can toggle between the two, but there's no option to turn it off completely, which is bad news if you're sensitive to light and need a completely dark environment to fall asleep. In addition to the backlight switch, the back side features a connector for the AC adapter (the unit can also run on two AAA batteries), a headphone jack, a daylight-savings-time switch, and an FM wire antenna. We also like that there's a line-in jack (cable not provided) so you can connect nondockable iPods, such as the iPod Shuffle and first- and second-generation iPods, as well as other MP3 players.
The iPod dock is located on top of the system, and Memorex includes five inserts that are compatible with the iPod Photo, the 4GB iPod, and the iPod Mini. The user guide includes a helpful chart that shows which holders work with which iPod model. There are no adapters for the 5GB iPod Video or the iPod Nano (including second-generation Nanos), but you can use the Universal Dock included with these iPods to ensure a snug fit. Once you're iPod is docked in the iWake, you can advance and rewind tracks by using the player's click wheel or the included remote control (an accessory that wasn't included with the iHome iH5, by the way). It would have been nice if there were such buttons embedded into the design of the iWake, but we do like that the system will charge your iPod while it's plugged in.
Controls lining the top edge of the iWake let you adjust the time, set the alarm, turn on the radio, and so forth. The left side has volume up and down buttons and a tuner for the radio, which you can also use to navigate your iPod. Unfortunately, like the iH5, there is no preset option for radio stations, though the iWake does have an autoscan function. The controls for setting the time and two alarms are on the right side, while the front edge features a power button, an iPod/Line In button, a large snooze bar, and alarm 1 and alarm 2 activation keys. Repeatedly pressing the last two buttons lets you choose whether you want to wake up to your iPod, the buzzer, or a radio station.
Overall, the Memorex iWake delivered solid performance on all fronts. We used a first-generation iPod Nano for our tests, and it worked just fine with the iWake. Setup was easy enough, and the alarm went off at the desired time. Sound quality was just OK, despite its SRS Wow sound-enhancement technology. We found that the audio was better at mid-volume, while jacking up the sound brought on a noticeable hiss. There wasn't much in terms of bass either. Of course, this is an alarm clock and not a dedicated speaker system, and in that light, it's adequate.