While it may seem somewhat anachronistic these days, Sony adds a little something to its ICF-CD3iP iPod alarm clock that most others don't: a CD player. And this quirk just might help sell this easy but otherwise run-of-the-mill $99.99 device.
The small, round-faced ICF-CD3iP is about as compact as iPod docks get, at 6.3 x 5.8 x 4.6 inches. A silver, circular face surrounds the LCD display and houses four buttons for play/pause, radio band, and off/alarm reset. The face itself pulls open to pop in your favorite compact disc. A large snooze button sits behind the CD bed, with sleep and volume buttons behind that. The dual-alarm clocks can be set and the radio can be tuned using buttons on either side of its face.
A conveniently hidden iPod dock pops out from the right side of the base with just a slight push. Unfortunately, the speakers sit in the back of the system, hidden behind the clock face and CD player. This helps the device retain its small form factor, but it makes for muffled sound.
Several different generations of iPods, as well as the iPhone 3G, synced up seamlessly with the ICF-CD3iP. Setting the alarm to wake up to iPod, radio, or buzzer was a cinch, and the time set and snooze buttons are big enough for even the sleepiest of hands. It's even iPhone 3G-compatible, so there's no need to switch into Airplane mode to avoid the dreaded GSM buzz.
As we mentioned, the ICF-CD3iP's speakers are positioned (annoyingly) behind the clock face. Regina Spektor's "Fidelity" sounded decent at low volumes, but tinny and hollow as the volume was turned up, as was the case with most music played through the device. Of course, this may prove to be the best method for getting someone out of bed: listening to the subpar sound quality for long periods of time can get irritating.
As an iPod docking station and dual-alarm clock, the Sony ICF-CD3iP performs adequately. Although it costs just $99.99, the ICF-CD3iP's pitfalls won't let us recommend it over the Altec Lansing Moondance Glow ($129), or the iLuv iMM173 Dual-Alarm Clock ($149), which offers an extra dock and better sound. But while the ICF-CD3iP's speaker quality is subpar, its unobtrusive design, retro CD tray, and ease of use make for a good budget bedside companion.