At the end of the day your phone probably ends up on the floor by your bed. I usually turn mine off, but it’s always on charge overnight. As it’s off, I usually use a separate alarm clock to wake me from my beauty sleep, but this Retro Touch Speaker aims to combine the alarm clock and bedside radio into one neat device.
The first point I should make is that there’s no Bluetooth connectivity needed. This works by picking up the sound from your smartphone speaker and boosting it through additional speakers on top of the unit. Wizardry huh?
Three AA batteries go into the bottom of the unit, or you can plug your phones’ charger into the back of it and then use the supplied cable to charge your phone (daisy-chain style). There’s a small blue LED to let you know when the device is powered up and ready for action.
Up front there’s a single solitary knob to twiddle. It has a satisfying “click” when you begin to rotate it which indicates it’s powered up. Old school, yeah baby.
Crank that knob up and your audio gets boosted further. You know how a volume knob works :)
At the back there’s three ports. The first seems to be an audio OUT port, but I doubt you’d really need to use this. You also have the microUSB input from your charger followed by a USB output to use with the supplied cable to charge your phone overnight.
That, if I’m brutally honest, is about it. Placing the phone onto the stand is easy enough and you can on doubt put a clever clock / calendar on your phone – perhaps using the new “Daydream Mode” on the latest versions of Android. I tried this device with a few phones but you do have to be pretty careful about the device in question. An iPhone will work fine, but switch to an Android device and you have to consider that the magical “pick up point” where the invisible microphone sits can be in a different position to the actual speaker on your phone.
The speaker on your phone needs to be somewhere near the left side of the unit, and you need to crank it up fairly loud to get the sound amplified. In practice this could sometimes be a hit and miss affair, but it seemed to like my age-old T-Mobile MyTouch which I still have kicking around with me because of the slide-out keyboard. The sound from the two 2 watt speakers was decent enough, but I did also have my smartphone cranked up fairly loud too. If you have a phone which is a little bigger than the dimensions of this device, you’re pretty stuffed unfortunately.
If nothing else, it’ll definitely wake you up if you decide to use it as an alarm clock and, if you can get the whole speaker / microphone position right, it’s a lot less faff that connecting via Bluetooth each night. However, I’d only recommend it to iPhone users right now.
The unit itself tries to be a bit retro by being red and beige too.