Looking rather like a cartoon alarm clock, the Tick Dock Dock is a combo clock radio/speaker dock that is designed to work with all iPods and iPhones and uses Apple’s standard oblong connector. When listening to music, the speaker is surprisingly articulate so long as you don’t go much above half volume. The sound is loud and crisp on modern country music, but with enough bottom-end that it’s not embarrassed by the odd bit of radio-friendly drum and bass. The Dock is excellent for talk radio, making it a good choice for catching up with podcasts
It has an ingenious docking connector, which rotates on a vertical pin, rather like one of those ghostly fireplaces from Scooby Doo. This can be closed when you’re not using the iPod, and rotates back into the grill’s face, almost invisibly. Despite controls on the top, and back of the dock, modern iPods and iPhones are probably still easier to control with their touch screens. If you’ve got an older Nano, it’s too short to be supported, against the rubbery stop at the top of the clock face – which rocks every time you use the iPod’s controls. The dock is mains only and will charge a docked iPod/iPhone, where there’s an included auxiliary IN for connecting other music players.
The FM clock radio is fine for what it is, but the instructions are hopeless. Something that should take two minutes – setting an alarm, tuning the radio – can easily take 20mins, while you work out what you’re supposed to be doing. In a world where even cheap digital radios set themselves up with no problems, this is a poor show. Apparently it’s possible to use a song from your iPod/iPhone music library as an alarm rather than the radio itself, but this feature isn’t explained anywhere, in the nine page manual.
- Decent sound for its size; excellent for speech.
- Expensive, built-in alarm and radio difficult to set up.
The Tick Tock Dock has a love-it-or-hate-it design, but is solidly made and the full-range speakers pack a surprising punch. It's expensive too; setting up both the radio and the alarms is tedious and confusing. To be honest, you'd be better off with something like the Vestalife Firefly (£39.95) and using the alarm on the iPhone/iPod, with a free radio app.