I sent this letter to Timex, and have not yet received any response. They may well have trashed it, but I think I would like it if I received this kind of specific technical feedback on the products/services I create.
Timex Audio Products
135 Essex Avenue
Avenel, NJ 07001
September 25, 2004
To Whom It May Concern:
Greetings. I am writing with some comments and suggestions about one of your products, specifically the Model T618 Stereo CD Clock Radio with Digital Tuning and Nature Sounds.
Over the last several months, I engaged in a fairly thorough search for a high-quality, feature-rich CD/Clock/Alarm/Radio product for bedside use. As you are probably aware, there is a wide range of products available in this category, with an equally wide range in quality and feature availability. Time and again, I found that the Timex Model T618 was the highest quality model available compared to similar products with which it was being marketed/sold in a given retail setting or on a given online store. And so as a result of my research, I ended up purchasing this model.
I have been generally happy with the product, but I do have a few comments and suggestions about the product, and my hope is that these will assist you in producing an even better version of this product in future models. Perhaps to that end, you would be so kind as to pass these remarks on to your product design team.
1) Location of the CD "open door" button: I found it almost comical that you would choose to locate the button that opens the CD player so close to the "snooze/dimmer" button. When someone is sleeping and is awoken by the CD player, it is all too likely that they will (as I have) accidentally press the "open door" button when reaching for the "snooze" button. This not only opens the door, but also stops the CD from playing, in effect requiring the user to fully awake to remedy this situation, or to fall back asleep, in danger of not being awoken later.
2) Lack of sleep volume for CD Player: The radio and nature sound features have a "sleep volume" feature, where you can set the volume at which these sounds play during the sleep, knowing that when the alarm sounds in the morning, it will be at a full volume. While this feature is much appreciated, it seems unfortunate that it does not apply to the CD Player feature in sleep mode. Since I most often want to sleep to a CD, I have to find the right compromise between the sleep volume and a wake volume, which is difficult. It would seem easy to extend this feature to apply to this one remaining mode.
3) Improved "Nature Sounds": Having experienced other alarm/radio products with nature sound features built in, I can safely say that the nature sounds available on this model are of a fairly poor quality. Not only do they have that tinny, computer-generated tone to them, but they also repeat in a short enough period that the average human ear tends to hear them as a repeating clip with a distinct beginning and end, rather than as a smoothly repeating series of sounds that blend together. Surely it would be worth recording higher quality sounds of a longer clip length, and then storing them in a way that sounds much more "natural" during playback.
4) Dual use of "7-5-2" settings: the packaging for this product could be read to imply that the unit is capable of having one set of alarm settings for the weekdays, and another set for the weekends. Upon use it becomes clear that one must manually switch from "7" to "5" to "2" as needed, which is not much better than just having to think about it every night before going to bed. It would be much appreciated if this feature could be extended to handle multiple settings.
5) Alarm Shut-Off after 1 Hour: I find it to be a poor design decision to have whatever alarm the user has chosen automatically shut off after one hour. While some people may be disciplined enough to rise within an hour of the alarm's initial sounding, others may find that extended snooze periods are necessary. I would recommend at least making this a user-configurable option - I understand that it could be useful in some settings.
6) Wake Volume Increase: This suggestion is for a feature that I would not expect to find on a product at this price range that this model is in, but that I think would be an excellent addition and would distinguish this model from all others. When the CD or Radio alarm comes on, it would be great if it could start at a very low volume, and then gradually (over 2-minute increments, for example) increase to a user-defined maximum volume. This allows for a much more relaxing and stress-free wake process, instead of the sudden presence of loud sound that happens now.
I hope that you will find these suggestions useful. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance. Thank you for your ongoing efforts to produce high quality, user-friendly electronics products.
James C. Hardie