Monday, July 02, 2007

Good Morning Luna!

The need:
For months I have been ogling a couple of Alarm Clock Speakers for the iPod. Unfortunately, Australia is months behind the US and the UK when it comes to gadgets hitting the market. Some never do. But the iPod market has really penetrated Australia and things are looking good.

My criteria were:
  • small (must fit on the bedside cabinet)
  • cool looks (sleek, modern, sexy!)
  • capable for iPod 5G and iPod nano (nano on its way)
  • alarm (who likes waking up to ghastly buzzer sounds...)
  • snooze and sleep functions (especially snooze...)
  • gradual wake up and sleep (nobody wants to be blasted at 6:00am)
The opportunity:
The end of financial year sale in Australia can be very stressful time. The only two department stores (Myer, David Jones) and a couple of the big chain retailers (Harvey Norman, Retravision) can offer some very good deals on electronics, clothes, whitegoods, furniture etc. Note the order of bargains in the previous sentence!... A female would have said "clothes, furniture, clothes and whitegoods" :)

So I went looking. I was stressed (didn't have approval) but I wanted an alarm clock with bells and whistles...

My shortlist was short: iHome iH5 and XtremeMac Luna. Our Singapore trip in January was disappointing when it came to gadgets: nothing excited me enough and there was really not enough choice. Back then I was after the Logitech AudioStation but that one got eliminated for a. its price and b. its large-ish dimensions for a bedside cabinet. The iHome unit is very good - we got to listen to it at the Singapore Airport duty free shop - and it retails for a good A$100 less than the Luna.

The action:
But a couple of months ago I listened to the Luna in a Mac store and it really impressed me. So that was the "chosen one"!

There are many reviews of the Luna on the Internet but I will promote the one by iLounge with a score of A-. It is accurate, sensible, honest and with no wanky terminology. The iLounge guys did actually review it twice, after XtremeMac fixed a couple of glitches via fixes to the firmware. This, by the way, has to be said for all iLounge reviews in general. And when it comes to iPod gear, I think iLounge is by far the most accurate and reliable source.

The conclusion:
Price-wise the Luna was a bargain as I bought it for A$195 with an extra 3-year warranty. But it's the unit's quality that sets it apart: the design is sleek, the controls are simple yet functional and very intuitive (you don't really need a a manual, the quick reference template placed on top of the unit summarizes the function of the four control buttons/dials). Sound-wise, the speakers deliver a really warm, rich sound. It looks like a lot of work has been put into the design and construction of the speaker drivers, as the Luna is capable of delivering varying types of music with no distortion.

So if you are in the market for such a unit, I really do recommend the Luna.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where did you get it at that price?

Ezra said...

Thank you for that review, I am just deciding about the Luna myself. Would you mind if I asked two questions?

1) How is the radio reception of the unit (both AM and FM)?

2) What firmware does your unit have? I believe this can be found by unplugging the power from the back of the unit, and then plugging it in again -- it's then shown on the display.

Thanks for any help you can give. :-)

K Williams said...

Ezra,

no, not a problem
1) AM reception is fine - although I don't really listen to AM. I am picking up quite a few stations even without the AM antenna plugged in. FM sound quality is very good once you have got good reception. FM reception though relies on a good antenna. The unit comes with a single white cable which plugs in the center pin of the FM aerial socket at the back of the unit. This cable does the work for strong stations but it needs to be extended vertically above the unit to give good results. Leaving it crawling on the floor is not that great an outcome.

Personally I don't have a great need for radio although my wife does. I think I will buy a proper, compact FM antenna and use that for FM radio. Of course if you have a TV and FM antenna installed in the house, you could plug in the Luna to the FM aerial socket.

2) My firmware is 2.12e, I think the e stands for Europe. I did get confirmation from Luna support in the U.S. that this is the latest for the Australian region. Not sure where you are located, but this firmware does not exhibit the problems older versions had, according to iLounge.
Just remember, there is no way for the end-user to upgrade the firmware. The Australian distributer do not provide any technical service in that regard as yet.

So, 3 weeks later, I'm still happy with the 'investment'. Good luck with your decision-making!...

Ezra said...

Thank you very much, that information was incredibly helpful. I did think that the "e" in the firmware stood for something else rather than indicating an older firmware. I knew that firmware could not be user updated and was quite concerned with getting as late a version as possible.

The points on radio reception are also very useful. I don't listen to much radio, but do need it to work well when I do use it e.g. for the football!

Thank you again, and it looks like I will have a lovely new alarm clock soon. :-)

Ezra said...

And I am in Australia as well by the way. :-)

ernő said...

Hi,

I hope you can help me. how can i set the playlist that I want to wake up?
Now If i listen to the ipod in sleep mode, the last playlist, song will wake me up.It is not good.
thanks

Elliot G said...

I received the Luna as a gift a few weeks ago - but have been experiencing problems with it. When i set the alarm to go off with the iPod, it turns on, the iPod lights up, but remains on PAUSE.. so no sound.. and as my boss has discovered, a sleep in!

I've since changed it, but it does the same thing..

What am i doing wrong?!?!?!?