Once upon a time, way back in the prehistoric days of the 20th century, the recently discontinued Sony Dream Machine was the alarm clock/radio for the quality-obsessed. It offered fairly good sound for a clock radio, it allowed you to set two alarms so that you and Honey could achieve your distinct definitions of “sleeping in,” and eventually Sony added an iPod dock, adding to the (horrifyingly annoying) buzzer the option of awakening to the music of your choice if your local broadcast radio stations hadn’t identified a niche narrow enough to satisfy your Elton John obsession each and every waking morning. And this, you’d think, would be as good as it would get: dimming clock, personal music player, mini-stereo sound, dual alarms . . . enough to make you GET UP, ALREADY, AND STOP YELLING AT YOUR STUPID ALARM CLOCK. (Sorry; my morning issue, not yours …) If your quest for a better clock stopped here, or at an equivalent place, with bored resignation, your mornings are about to change for the better.
Logitech’s Squeezebox Radio, once in range of the wireless Wi-Fi router that we all have now, rockets you from the 3 or 4 halfway decent analog stations that even in a major city have to be tuned in manually to the 37 googatrillion or so Internet stations that are out there. It will find most of them for you, with its intuitive interface and friendly knobs, or you can use your account at mysqueezebox.com to enter any obscure URL that offers live streaming. The alarms are darn near infinitely programmable (don’t need it on Sunday? – neither do I – just set it for 5 or 6 days a week). It’s engineered to play streaming Internet – hasn’t had to take a buffering break yet. It’s good-looking and rock solid, and you can get one in black, red or Steve Jobs white. The sound, while mono, is surprisingly decent – high praise from an audio snob like me. You can pay extra for a remote, which you don’t need – there’re apps for your iPhone, iPad or Android – and a battery, which you might want for portability.
The absolute, life-changing killer app, though, is you can play Spotify. Get a Premium Spotify subscription for 1o bucks a month and suddenly you aren’t tethered to the front of your computer, you can get those 13 million songs from all those virtual CDs streamed right to your night table. You may never have to buy another CD or song from iTunes.