Traipsing about in ASDA's two weeks before Christmas I was still daunted as to whether to consider a DAB radio or just go for the next thing possible and just return to the bog standard analogue clock radio system which was not the first choice I wanted. But it seems that the days of going for a DAB clock radio which is cheap to buy or at least has a cheap tempting price may well be over thanks to my recent experience of buying a cheap DAB clock radio which failed to give long lasting performance as well as being able to tap into DAB stations.
After being recommended to stay away from a Sony analogue clock radio I thought looked quite compact, the next clock radio upwards was this Philips AJ 3121 clock radio. It didn't look very aspiring on the front of the box but as I looked around and found the demo unit staring back at me, it could well be love at first sight.
As a musician and pianist I have to say that the AJ3121 mimics piano keys. At the top the radio is dressed in a matt black smooth finish rounded off in a white body...well I did say it was love at first sight...it is also quite unisex in its colour appeal and thankfully doesn't suffer from poor plastic silver like paint.
Outwardly though the trick to the AJ3121 is that it is a basic digital LED display clock analogue radio consisting of an FM and MW band (its MW band not AM). There are no pretences here or any fancy buttons which are likely made to let the consumer go Radio Ga Ga...So it naturally has the two option alarm system; buzzer or radio wake plus a very easy to use central button in silver/white which gives the sleep function or repeat alarm function if pressed twice. Quite simply the only reason I had to look at the user manual was to double check that my logic was correct.
As I have stated previously in other reviews, if you buy something as basic as a tape recorder, a radio or a clock radio and need to read a user manual to set the clock let alone how to use, then its usually followed by a lot of problems. So out of the box and a plugged in, I took a guess that to change the clock you have to push your finger on the "HR" button which obviously means "hour" and "MIN" for "minute" to access the clock. The buttons move with that similar popped plastic sound but in some cases feel spongy and not too cheap; the fact that the buttons don't reverberate through the radio's hollow shell unlike my last radio makes me think of increased quality here.
To the left hand side of the radio underneath a slide bar has four functions, the first function to have the alarm buzzer on, the next function to have the alarm off, the next function to have the radio wake up selected and the last function to just have the radio switched on. If anyone knows of similarities don't tell me - this seems to be the bog standard procedure that has been set on many an analogue clock radio since the start of time. Even my Alba clock radio back in the 1980's had the same functions on a similar slide bar selector. Therefore setting the radio, alarm and clock functions are delightfully easy. It's a slight shame that the slider moves all too quickly through the four selections though and it can take patience if to select the radio alert with the alarm functioned as sometimes the selector slider will not "take" to the position you want.
On the right hand side, or on the other underside of the radio you'll find one dial, ribbed in design and grey in colour. It's the volume control, and upon using it I find that the Philips has a very good sound quality; not too tinny and bright with the sound emerging from the central speaker on top of the radio. On the base of the radio there is the usual 1.5V battery door that keeps the memory of the clock in place if the power has been cut. An additional slider button also allows the user to choose between the radio wavelengths. The cord length is less than a metre and there is also an FM wire sprouting out the back - just like old digital clock radios of yesteryear...
The alarm quality is nothing new; it bleats and it is a loud buzzer, not that I have used it often, as I tend to prefer waking up to radio stations in the morning. It is here that on this radio for all that it is quite basic that I find virtually any FM or MW station I want via the radio-tuning wheel set at the top of the radio. It is a pity that the view window for the actual stations is very small, only allowing a small vertical line to show what station has been selected, but if you're anything like me, I usually dial up a station, to hear something that I like rather than work out the actual station channel and try and find it precisely.
The AJ3121's buttons are clearly marked in white although there isn't that many and they are logical as to what they do.
Another surprise, but welcomed all the same is the fact that on the Philips, the clock is in a 24-hour format. Gone are the silly red or green lights to the side of the time showing which shows another decal threatening to fade away in years gone by to show "pm," on other clock radio units I've had.
There is however only one downside to this radio clock unit. Although I like the green LED's of the clock and the clarity of the spacing where the numbers shown, there is no dimmer switch which would have been handy instead of realising half of my room at night is shrouded in a slight lime green hue! Still for £9-41 you can't have everything but you can have simplicity, and that's the key to this product. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008