The alarm clock is a staple in every bedroom, and up until recently hasn’t really had any major advances in its technology. Every year, people all over the globe spend billions of dollars, most of it coming from their incomes earned at work, on upgrading to the biggest, baddest, and best tech for the lives. But when is the last time these same people spent money on upgrading the one device that ensures they are up and ready to do what provides their livelihoods?
Alarm clocks that have the ability to charge a single device, especially Apple devices with a 30-pin dock connector, have been around for some time. But with smartphone penetration now surpassing 50% in the United States in 2012, more than half of American households now own at least one, but most likely two, smartphones. That statistic doesn’t include any tablets or other mobile devices such as MP3 players, iPods, e-readers, etc. But with most docking alarm clocks only offering one dock to connect a single smartphone or device, the remaining devices that need to be charged end up in wall sockets, power strips, or surge protectors in one place, or scattered across the house. Then there’s the mess of all the cords needed to charge each device individually to boot.
The Easy Doks CR34 Alarm Clock solves this issue by not offering the ability to charge not just one, but up to six devices at the same time. The same unit also has three docking stations on the top side to hold each device docked safely and securely. Two smaller docking stations on each side of the device are designed for a smartphone, and a third larger docking station in the center rear top of the CR-34 easily holds an iPad (the 9.7-inch model) safely and securely. However, although they are designed for a smartphone or some other device similar in size, the front two docking stations are able to securely dock a small tablet such as a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD. The entire case is black, with a blue-tinted LED screen for the time and other notifications (such as which one of the two alarms are on) as well as a bright LED night light at the top of the device between the two smartphone docking stations. On the front side of the top of the CR34 are standard alarm clock buttons to do tasks such as setting the time and the alarm. Behind the tablet docking station, the plastic area can be opened up completely, exposing the six USB power outlets.
It’s the ability to charge up to six devices simultaneously that really makes the CR34 stand out from the competition. Using a single standard cord, the Easy Doks CR34 is able to power itself as well as charge up to six devices at the same time. Multiple device owners can certainly plug 6 different charging cubes into a power strip or surge protector, but should take extreme caution when doing so. The issue when stringing together 6 devices to charge on one power strip isn’t a matter of enough voltage, it’s regulation of the voltage coming from the outlet in the wall to each device. Each device “asks” for a certain amount of current or power to charge itself, and most power strips work in the matter that they simply just extend the power source into more outlets. Without technology to regulate power, devices charge unevenly, too fast causing potential overheating of the battery, or too slow if at all. Easy Doks uses a Smart Current Detection (SCD) technology which computes how much power is being asked for by each device, and regulates the exact amount of power needed.
The six USB outlets are separated by three on each side, and show clearly what each port is designed to charge. For example, tablets such as the iPad “ask” for or consume almost double the power of its smaller iPhone cousin during charging, and the CR34 clearly defines which USB outlets are designed for these more power hungry devices. With six USB cords plugged into your CR34 (none are included with the alarm system), it’s easy to imagine a mess of tangled cables. However, Easy Doks made a great design choice by raising the USB outlets above the base of the alarm clock, and then creating an area where users can wrap their cords around that area for easy cable management. Small notches around the sides at the top of this area allow cords to be snapped and held into place. There are also notches on the side of the device itself to allow you to wrap and snap cords for devices that won’t end up in one of the three docks at the top of the alarm clock. Cables for the devices that will live in the three docks are fed easily through the bottom and held securely into place with well-placed notches to hold the cords up and within easy reach.
Charging your devices is important, but most importantly an alarm clock is designed to do one thing: interrupt your dreams like iTunes working for Android to wake up and realize that the real world demands your attention. The Easy Doks CR34′s speakers sound great, and will certainly wake up even the most stingy sleeper. An AM/FM radio is included, however, the CR34 does not play music from any of the devices plugged into any of the USB ports. There is an auxiliary port in the compartment between the two USB bays, however, if you want to play music from your device, and alarms are either you standard buzzer (beeping) or the radio. A remote is included with the device that includes the ability to turn on the alarm, snooze, or turn off the alarm, along with standard tuning and volume controls. The speakers are loud and clear, however, audiophiles will probably appreciate a Bose system. For the average music lover, the CR34 will sound more than good enough for listening to music or the radio while getting ready in the morning, or listening to music before going to bed.
The Easy Doks CR34 is a must-have solution for anyone who has more than once device in their home that requires charging. It offers a simple solution for keeping all the devices you rely to have charged every day in one convenient spot. At $99.99, the Easy Doks CR34 offers a great value when compared to competing docking alarm systems that cost around the same price. The lack of being able to use your iPod, iPhone, or other device for listening or waking up to music is something that some may find a deal breaker. However, the ability to charge six devices at once is a trade-off many would consider more than worth it. Great design coupled with great technology makes this gadget freak who seems to always be looking for an open outlet very happy. By their very nature, most people hate their alarm clocks, but why not start a love-hate relationship with the Easy Doks CR34? Rating: A-