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Philips DC190 iPod Docking Clock Radio review: Philips DC190 iPod Docking Clock Radio

Philips DC190 iPod Docking Clock Radio

Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
3 min read

We can't say that we've seen an abundance of affordable iPod alarm clock radios. The second you add "iPod" to the equation, you're looking at a price between $70 and $80 at the minimum.


Philips DC190 iPod Docking Clock Radio

The Good

Dual alarm clock; fold-away iPod dock; slick, mirrored design; 3.5 millimeter line-in.

The Bad

Subpar audio quality; no remote; FM-only radio; both alarms must use same source.

The Bottom Line

If you don't mind the well-below-par sound quality and lack of a remote, the DC190 is one of the most affordable iPod alarm clock radios we've seen.

Philips has entered the iPod alarm clock radio market with a variety of models, and its DC190--the cheapest of the line at $50--is what we looked at. Here we have a solid-performing device that is blemished by one significant detail: sound quality.

The DC190 is actually a slick-looking alarm clock. It stands about the size of a page-a-day desk calendar and has smooth, curved edges. The main LCD display is hidden behind the reflective front panel, which actually serves as a pretty decent mirror.

The orange LCD looks neat and is easy to read. A variety of little icons surround the main time display, giving you details about which alarms are set and what audio source is currently selected.

Most of the DC190's control buttons are hidden to the left and right sides (where you'll also find the speakers). We found it a bit difficult to reach these, as you'll most likely need to turn the device around to see what you're doing. The rear of the alarm clock has a wake source slider (you can choose from buzz, iPod, or FM radio) in addition to tuning buttons, and alarm- and time-set functions. Also, here you'll find a 3.5 millimeter jack for connecting other audio devices.

The side-mounted buttons aren't ideally located.

The iPod dock is a fold-down design. To reveal it, you need to first push in on the faux brushed-metal panel and then manually pull it down. Behind the actual iPod dock is a unique spring-loaded rubber stopper that will allow your device to fit snugly in the dock. The DC190 is compatible with fifth-generation iPods and higher. Basically, if your device has a color screen, it should play nicely. Next to the dock are play/pause and skip forward and backward track buttons. Whether the DC190 is on or off, the second you attach an iPod, it'll immediately begin playing. Also, whenever attached, the DC190 will charge your iPod.

We liked the unique rubber stopper behind the iPod dock.

We should note that while the DC190 does not advertise compatibility with the iPhone, it did work during our testing. However, the phone will have to enter "airplane mode," as the DC190 lacks the proper shielding to allow the iPhone to operate normally.

The DC190 offers two separate alarm clocks, though they must share the same wake source. You can't have one alarm go off to the radio and the other to an iPod. That said, you can separately select the days of the week on which they go off. Additionally, you can manually set the maximum volume you'd like the speakers to reach. When an alarm goes off, the volume gradually increases until it matches your set level.

During our testing, we found that all the device's features performed well. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the sound quality. It's tough to expect such a small package to sound great, but the DC190 didn't even sound average. Everything played out of the speakers is incredibly hollow, lacking any definition whatsoever. The FM radio fared a bit better, but we chalked that up to FM radio's already decreased source quality.

If you can get beyond the disappointing sound quality, the DC190 works as advertised and is affordable at $50. While we haven't heard the DC315 (it's due out in September), the $80 step-up properly supports iPhone playback and appears to have slightly larger speakers.

If you'd rather stray away from Philips altogether, iHome has two products we'd recommend. The iH41BR lingers in the $60 price range and offers a similar feature set (sans radio, but you get a remote) to the DC190, and the iP47BR gives you even more functionality, including iPhone shielding and Bluetooth capabilities.


Philips DC190 iPod Docking Clock Radio

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 5