When the Philips DC290 debuted at CES this year, there was some fanfare about the design on top of a promising feature set.
But the genre of iPod/iPhone docking alarm clocks is a saturated one. Today iHome alarm clocks are in every 3-star hotel. Surplus units are for sale for pennies on the dollar at T.J.Maxx stores.
Maybe bloated is the better word. Most of the iPod docks today are cheap, plastic junk.
And that’s why the Philips DC290 passes muster. It’s a relatively inexpensive dock being put out by a legitimate electronics company. It has a brushed aluminum finish and a remote control that works from more than a few feet away.
Testing out the DC290, there are a few quick flaws. The iPod/iPhone dock is set pretty deep, so it’s difficult to work within the touchscreen if you don’t feel like controlling the device with the dock. The bass is also way too high, so don’t even think about turning on the fake “Dynamic Bass Boost” feature. Audio tends to distort at the higher volume levels, and the thumping bass doesn’t help that much.
Beyond that, the device is solid. It has dual alarms and a gentle wake-up cycle that gradually raises the volume until you’re up and at ’em.
You can also plug in any other audio device with a headphone-style input port.
The FM tuner isn’t very useful. The antenna is a thin piece of wire, and you can’t replace it with anything better. There also isn’t an AM tuner. I know we’re talking about an iPod device, but AM news radio is still big for waking up in major cities like New York and Boston.
The best part about the DC290 is the price. At just $99 — and surely to be on sale — you get a basic, good-sounding dock.