Summary: Lidl’s £25 (down from an original £30) is a solid, good value clock radio that should meet the needs of those who like a little bedside listening in a compact package.
I’d doubt a clock radio is high on anyone’s list. The fact that smartphones do just about all a clock radio can do, on paper it could be going the way of the teasmaid, and thence: landfill. Or at best niche. So is this offering from Lidl the start of a comeback? Read on . . .
Pros: Good sound most of the time, more features than you can wave a stick at, compact, low power consumption, QI and USB chargers, good connectivity (DAB, FM, Bluetooth, Aux, Headphones), clear display with dimmer/off, decent build, relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Eastern Bloc 70s throwback styling (or retro chic?), accessing some of the features complicated, buttons fiddlesome, EQ settings overblown, clumsy method of securing phone on charger, display garish, power consumption aside, questionable environmental credentials.
Measuring a compact 15cm x 15cm, and 8cm high, the SURQ 4 A1 (who names these things?) is available in black or white plastic, with a large blue LED display. It’s fairly heavy as these things go - about 750g. Stereo speakers behind a mesh black metal grille sit either side of the display. A comprehensive (or verbose) manual and some sticky silicone stops to locate the phone are in the box.
Across the top a set of buttons separated by a silver strip, and a touch bar see to all of the functions, and round the back a USB port (for charging only), an analogue input 3.5mm jack, headphone socket, the power input socket, and a fixed trailing piece-of-wire aerial lead. The power supply is a switching plug-transformer and a 1m thin wire power lead and plug.
The clock is a large, bright, blue LED with 4 levels of brightness, including off. Two alarms can be set with a variety of schedules.
For audio, there’s DAB+, FM, Bluetooth 5.0, aux in, and a headphone socket. The display also hosts a smorgasbord of information - status and times of the 2 alarms, Qi charging, snooze, nap (handy, don’t often see this - the alarm comes on after a preset period), audio selection, equaliser setting, and an FM stereo indicator.
To access it all 12 buttons on the top, plus a snooze bar and the Qi charging pad. The phone is guided into position with a couple of supplied sticky silicone stoppers.
Using the SURQ 4 A1
The sound is, overall, pretty good. The two speakers make a fair attempt at a stereo sound, with decent bass and treble, and clear mid-range. The equaliser settings (rock, pop, classical) are all overblown to my ear - I much preferred the equaliser switched off. It is not (emphatically) hifi, but as good as you might expect at this price. My only slight criticism is at very low levels there’s a background ‘burble’ and occasional buzzing on DAB radio when using the QI charger - slightly annoying if using the sleep function.
All sources worked as expected - the radio reception solid in my neck of the woods (SW Sheffield). Bluetooth connected reliably.
The charger worked well, seemingly fast charging my iPhone, although it did seem to slip from the charge position once. I haven’t stuck the pads to the radio just yet. This would doubtless help if looks aren’t too important.
The build is generally commendable. The buttons have a positive click, and while logically set out, drilling down to some functions can be hit and miss. The main on/off, volume and snooze are relatively easy to hit reliably, though. The display is bright and easy to read, and the ability to switch it off is a bonus for me. The backlight, though, is overblown and makes the display and case look cheaper than necessary.
Power consumption, as measured using a wireless smart plug, seems low. Regardless of the display settings it measured 0.2W with the radio off, 1.8W with DAB, and up to 9W charging using the QI charger. At the current (Nov 22, 30p/unit) extortionate electricity rates I’d estimate it’d use less than a £1’s worth of electricity each year. Playing the radio a few hours each day would push that to between £1 and £2.
There is no indication that anything about this unit is recycled or recyclable.
Respectable sound, wide range of features and sound sources, and a very attractive price. Will it replace your phone or traditional alarm clock? If you can live with the styling and fiddly buttons, and have bedside space, it’s certainly a contender. Avoid an impulse buy, though. It’s hardly necessary, and its questionable environmental provenance is disappointing.