Gear4 Blackbox 24/7 - Gear4 Blackbox 24/7

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

As well as the clock display, there are a number of icons to indicate which mode the Blackbox is in - FM, iPod, or Aux - and for setting up the alarms. There are two alarms and each can either set off a beep, the radio or the iPod.

At this point we can return to the remote control its only using this that we can actually set the time for the alarms. As well as this, and duplicating the controls on the device, the remote also has a snooze button for setting snooze times of 15, 30, 60, and 90 minutes. Most notable, though, is it can fully control your iPod. Now this may sound like a fairly unremarkable feature but you'll be surprised how few iPod docks actually let you navigate menus and pick what album you want to listen to without having to resort to physically using the iPod.

It's tempting to complain about the lack of either DAB or Internet radio, and I think there is potential to have a very similar looking device with these features, but for the price, FM is all that could be expected. The wire aerial is permanently attached and rather short but it managed to pick up a reasonable signal in our office, which normally has very poor reception. There are no favourites or any other sophistications; you just tune in and listen, which is fine by us. Also round the back, alongside the socket for the power adapter, is an auxiliary input jack for plugging in alternative audio sources.

Unfortunately, having had such a good showing so far, it was somewhat inevitable that such a moderately priced device would trip up somewhere and in this particular instance its sound quality that's the culprit. Now it isn't appalling by any stretch of the imagination and there are few similarly priced devices that overshadow it. However, there's no denying that bass is lacking and the overall sound is somewhat tinny. What's particularly odd is that it sounds like it's struggling (i.e. like someone straining to hit that high note that's just out of reach) even at low volumes yet it doesn't get worse as you increase the volume. This would seem to be due to the preamp circuitry simply not being very sophisticated and compressing the music slightly.

Ultimately, I could spend three paragraphs describing the exact nuances of the sound the Blackbox produces but I could probably sum it up in five words; it sounds like it costs.

Verdict

If you're looking for a simple iPod speaker dock and radio for your bedside table then the Gear4 Blackbox 24/7 is definitely worth considering. It's very easy to use, has a large easy to read display, and the remote can be used to control your iPod, all three of which are not givens when it comes to these sorts of devices. Add in the fact it can be had for just £50 and you've got yourself a bargain.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Value 9
  • Sound Quality 6
  • Features 6
  • Design 9

AJ

January 21, 2009, 4:04 pm

You mentioned interferance from the iPhone when on the station. Does this only occur when the unit is switched on playing the radio / other music ? Or can this occur when the unit is in standby too ? I don't want to change my iPhone 3g to plane mode (ever) as I'll miss phone calls; so am I going to have problems sleeping, or is the unit quiet then ? (this unit would be right next to the bed as an alarm clock)





Docking an iPhone 3g. Does it fit well without a cradle ?





Thanks for any help. Almost bought the Boston unit a few weeks ago, but stopped mainly due to the interferance and reports of noise it made even on standby.

Catherine Tuckwell

February 11, 2010, 1:28 am

Agreed that the clock display is a bonus. I've had three different iPod clock radios, and this was the only one I didn't need to turn off on a night because of a bright display. The systems where the entire display lights up is like having a nightlight beside my bed, this was just right. Just a shame it suddenly stopped charging my iPod, otherwise I would never have switched.

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