What makes these simple controls really shine, though, is the large clear display that automatically adjusts its brightness depending on lighting conditions, meaning those of you that are light sleepers shouldn’t be disturbed by the Duo-i twinkling away at night. It’s an LCD panel so suffers from the usual problem of slightly poor viewing angles but its use of large, clear, logically positioned icons and text (the clock display is particularly good) means you should have no problem knowing what’s going on, even from the other side of your living room.
We also particularly like the two alarms. At the push of a button you can turn on each alarm independently and you can choose whether to play your ipod, a buzzer or both at once. Each one starts quietly, then ramps up in volume the longer it goes on and, if you haven’t got your ipod plugged in, it’ll play the radio instead. Setting the time is also blessedly quick and easy, which is a godsend when it’s late at night and it’s as much as you can muster just to disrobe and slip between your sheets before drifting off into a long and deep slumber.
As with the Boston Acoustics Solo XT, the Duo-i features a touch-sensitive silver strip that runs round the edge of the speakers. This is used to snooze the alarm and tapping it multiple times will extend your snooze period from 10 minutes upwards in 5 minute intervals.
When you plug in an iPod and switch to the iPod option, it will start playing back straight away, which I guess you could see as either annoying or really convenient. Personally I think it’s great as it results in fewer button presses and, after all, why else would you be plugging it in if you didn’t want it to play?
For controlling the Duo-i from afar, a small remote is included that, despite being a relatively cheap popper-button type, is another master class in good basic design. The most commonly used play and power buttons are distinguished by a bright yellow background that is highly visible in low light, though it isn’t ‘glow in the dark’. The layout also makes it easy to feel your way around it in complete darkness, plus it also happens to fit exactly in the crevice at the top just in front of the iPod dock, which is a convenient storage spot. Oh, and to top it all off, it’s even magnetic.