Extensive, smart alarm clock features
Full control of iPod with remote
Good sound for its intended use
The JBL On Time Micro, with its extensive, well-thought-out features and powerful remote, is a very strong iPhone / iPod alarm clock. However, some user-interface complexities and a high price hold it back.
Solid Sound, and A Promising, but Flawed, Remote
As an iPod / iPhone alarm clock, there are two bases upon which to judge the On Time Micro: as a speaker dock and as an alarm clock.
As a speaker dock, the On Time Micro is solid. Simply fit any iPod or iPhone with a dock connector onto the dock and you’re ready to listen to music. The On Time Micro’s speakers offer clear playback, and while you won’t get the deepest bass out of the relatively small speaker, and may encounter so distortion at very high volumes, though it unlikely to me that you’d be blasting music or looking for a true audiophile experience in the bedroom most of the time anyway.
While many iPod speaker docks include remote controls, most lack features to control the iPod itself, instead limiting control to volume and next/previous song. Not the On Time Micro. The included remote not only controls volume, song, and clock features, it also navigates all iPod and iPhone menus.
Having this feature in the remote is a major bonus, but it’s undermined by the design of the remote itself. Instead of mapping all the various features of the dock and iPod/iPhone onto a small number of buttons, there’s practically a separate button for each function. As a result, the remote is confusing, which frequently leads to pressing the wrong button.
A Flexible iPhone Alarm Clock
While the speaker dock features of the On Time Micro are a bit mixed, its alarm clock features are terrific.
The clock allows you to create different alarms for individual days or on recurring schedules like weekdays, weekends, and every day. Not being limited to a single wake-up time is great flexibility. You can wake up to random songs from the iPod or iPhone, specific songs, or AM/FM radio.
Other features include a sleep timer that lets you fall asleep to music and have the dock automatically turn off, a light blue LCD display to keep from being too bright in a dark room (though it’s a bit brighter than I’d like, the brightness is adjustable), and charging of the iPod / iPhone in the dock so you wake up with a fully charged device.
The Bottom Line
The JBL On Time Micro is a mixed bag. If you’re seeking a solid iPhone / iPod alarm clock with flexible clock features, I’d almost recommend it, except for one thing: the price. The US$250 suggested retail price is simply too high. If the On Time Micro included features like streaming of web radio or Pandora, it might be justified, but as it is, and with some of drawbacks, that’s too expensive.
If JBL cuts the price and you’re in the market for a decent iPod alarm clock, take a look at the On Time Micro. But, until the price comes down, I’d be cautious.