capsule review

iSound TimeTravel

At a Glance
  • dreamGEAR iSound TimeTravel

    Macworld Rating

Compared to other iPod travel alarm clocks I've reviewed, the iSound TimeTravel is bare-bones. Not that you'd expect a wealth of features from a tiny (4.25" wide by 4.25" deep by 2.5" high) unit capable of running on four AA batteries. A dock-connector cradle lets you play music from your iPod, as well as charge it, while an auxiliary jack will let you plug in and play another audio source. Other than that -- and the alarm clock, of course -- the TimeTravel doesn't do much, but if you're just looking for a compact iPod alarm clock that will fit nicely in your carry-on, this is it.

When it comes to alarms, the TimeTravel has only two options: buzzer or iPod. There is no radio, which I missed. I also had a few issues issues with the alarm: Though I thought I had set it properly, it twice failed to go off as expected. This turned out to be user-error, but having tested my fair share of iPod alarm clocks, I consider myself a fairly sophisticated user. Eventually, I figured things out, but I was glad I had set my mobile phone's alarm as a backup.

The only buttons on the clock are for play/pause, forward, back, alarm and snooze. Wondering how you set the clock? The iPod-control buttons do double duty, which was what led to my difficulties getting the alarm properly set. The buttons themselves have a cheap feel to them, although I did like the large snooze button, which is easy to find in the dark as it takes up a considerable portion of the TimeTravel's real-estate. A dial on the back of the system adjusts the volume; no remote control is included

As for the TimeTravel's sound quality, it's acceptable considering the size. At full volume, it's easily loud enough to stir even the deepest sleeper. However, bass is more or less missing, and the midrange and highs are nothing to rave about. Yet the sound is good enough that when I had guests in my hotel room on a recent trip to Salt Lake City, I used it as a portable sound system and it generated nothing but compliments.

Overall, once you get the hang of using the TimeTravel's alarm, it makes a nice portable unit for those who value portability -- you just shouldn't expect full-bodied sound from this half-pint.
--Mathew Honan

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Extremely compact and portable. Easy on the budget

    Cons

    • Somewhat confusing button setup, with cheap buttons. No remote. No radio
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