GrooveToons is an eye-catching alarm clock for all three generations of iPod nano (currently 3rd generation nano adaptors are supplied on request). Exactly how eye-catching the GrooveToons is depends on what colour you opt for - black, silver, blue, green, or pink. The GrooveToons’ appearance is hybrid alarm clock/cartoon animal, with organic contours, protruding ‘eyes’, and vestigial clock face. Small icons either side of 6 o’clock indicate the volume controls, and there’s a large ‘snooze’ button on top.
The dock adaptor slides left and right, to fit your particular nano, but unlike the other devices discussed here, there’s no way to directly connect other iPods. Round the back is a speaker grill, power button, DC adaptor socket (mains power adaptor included), and an audio line in. There’s no battery power option for any of the reviewed devices, which makes sense, given that a certain amount of juice is required to charge and maintain the iPod.
Setup is simple. Connect to mains power, press the power switch, and slide the nano into position. The first time you do this, you have to make some introductions: press the snooze button for three seconds, and go to the main iPod menu. Use the nano’s clickwheel to navigate to the ‘Extras’ menu, then press the snooze button again, using it to select ‘Clock’. Once you’ve done this, the nano should return to this menu whenever it’s docked with the GrooveToons. Setting the alarm is also accomplished via the nano menus - the GrooveToons itself is quite passive.
The snooze button provides that nine minutes of contemplation mentioned earlier. The audio line-in is useful if you need to connect another device. We tried a laptop; the GrooveToons didn’t enhance its sound quality, but it did increase volume. Sound quality from iPod or line-in is serviceable - typical small radio-quality sound, perhaps a tad better than we expected. With this type of design, stereo imaging is not an issue - there isn’t any.
This could make an ideal first iPod gadget for the younger user; it may even induce some enthusiasm for getting up for school. It's fun looking and great for kids, blatantly kitsch, but easy to set up with a small footprint. Its line input is potentially very useful, and it's very loud for its size, with clean audio. It works with only the older iPod nanos, and has a limited range of functions, with just one alarm. It's a design that only children will love, or someone who's rather "whacky".