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Friday, July 3, 2020

Second Look: PAI Sandman Doppler (Beta)

As I said on the last part, this is not a paid promotion though I did receive a discount on the price with the expectation of providing detailed feedback (which I was going to do anyway).

If you haven't read the First Look, you should probably start there.

I woke to the alarm this morning. Well, kinda. I mean, I didn't turn off any of my other alarms. So Kai'ckul went off at 0715, my G-Home Mini went off at 0650, my smartphone went off at 0720, and I hit snooze on everything (except the Mini, which I just said stop and it stopped) at least twice (but that's normal for my wake up routine--I am so very not a morning person).

There's hardly any tactile feedback on the Sandman's buttons, just one bump on each the next and previous audio navigation buttons, which is weird. There's no representation embossing or Braille (or even better, Elia Frames), which could be a problem for some people. There is spacing between the rear row of control buttons, so it's only a matter of time before I memorize the order and can poke the alarm off button (or any other button) with my eyes closed (only on days I have off that fall on what's usually a work day, like today, I promise).

Snoozing it was really easy with all the front buttons becoming one massive snooze button.

The volume was surprisingly loud. I have it on the quietest setting, and that was more than loud enough for me. I'm using the Rainforest tone, which scales up in volume over time, but it's the recording that scales up in volume, not the alarm, so when the tone cycles around, it starts quiet again; that's a rather annoying. My other alarms get progressively louder the longer they ring, even when the audio track loops, because it's the timer on the alarm that makes it louder, not a mere volume increase inside the audio track. It also doesn't loop perfectly, but that's just me being selfish.

I would like the option to add my own audio tracks to the alarm, but it wouldn't surprise me if that feature is already being planned. The Rainforest is pretty natural sounding, but I've always preferred rain and storm sounds.

The display is huge and visible at sharp high angles which is totally awesome; I can be behind the clock leaning over it and read the time, and I don't have to lean very far. Also, I can be halfway across the room without my glasses on and still read the time.

And I did just notice that the audio controls change color to match the clock face color.

The automatic brightness adjustment is really nice and gradual. I have another Kickstarter-clock that also has an auto brightness adjust, but it isn't gradual, and if you're in between two expected levels it will flip back and forth between two settings on a thirty second cycle, which is really quite distracting.

I still haven't had any luck connecting Alexa, but I have managed to play music over the bluetooth connection, though it seems kind of flaky. I'm still having connection issues. Also, the navigation buttons don't work for me at all, only volume up and volume down.

The sound quality is alright, though it's a little tinny. There's very little, if any, bass. In direct comparison to my Anker Soundcore (which I also keep on my hammock-side table), the Soundcore blows the Sandman out of the water in terms of audio quality and bass. The Sandman has a higher volume setting than the Soundcore, but honestly, if I'm playing audio that loudly, I have real speakers (like the Logitech z313 that I like so much, I own two sets) that I would use instead.

It would be nice if there was a 3.5mm port on it somewhere so I could connect better speakers to it if I wanted, but that's not really a critique, it's just me asking for a feature most people probably wouldn't care about. And again, I have better speakers that I already have a less flaky connection with that work just fine, so I probably wouldn't use the jack anyway.

That's all I've got for Day Two. There probably won't be a Day 3, but I'll start stocking up new impressions for the completion of Week One of owning a (beta release version) of the Sandman Doppler.

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