Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

The $4.99 Clock Radio

Friday Mar 9, 2007

Since I’m in the process of moving, I don’t have all of my stuff here in Nashville yet. One of the necessities I just didn’t have room to lug up here was my alarm clock. It’s a Sony that lets you set two alarms. I like it and don’t plan on replacing it anytime soon.

I was walking through my local Target looking for an alarm clock. Walking past the Dyson Root 6 and trying not to drool, I ended up at the digital clocks. I found a little Sony for $24.99. It was basically a smaller version of the one I have. I didn’t want to spend 25 bucks on something I wouldn’t be using for more than a couple of months. Yes Regine, we could put it in the guest room when I’m done with it. I picked one up and decided to see what other fun electronics they had. Something strange caught my eye, a price marker for $4.99 in the middle of all the higher-priced alarm clocks. My curiosity was piqued.

What kind of clock radio could you possible get for 5 dollars? Some of you might be remembering the 5 dollar milkshake from Pulp Fiction. But an alarm clock is supposed to last more than 30 minutes. I picked up the box and looked at it. It was cute. Sort of looks like a Mac Mini albeit smaller and made out of cheap gray plastic.Clock Box AM?… check. FM?… check. Alarm?… check Numbers?… check. What is missing? I’ll tell you what’s missing. The extra digit in front of the price. I decided to buy one and see if it really worked.

What really amazes me is how anybody, Target or the manufacturer can make any money selling an “FM/AM Clock Radio” for $4.99. If Target pays 50% to the manufacturer, that’s $2.50. There must be more than that in parts here. An LED display, a power cord, a wire antenna, some dials, some buttons, and a speaker. Not to mention the slow boat to get it from China to California and the truck to get it from California to Nashville. Somebody is making very little money here. You know who it is? It’s Sony. They didn’t make one penny.

ClockI took the clock home, plugged it in, set the time, set the alarm. It has kept perfect time and woken me up reliably 4 days in a row. A part of me expects the thing to just stop working one day. But every day it does work is one more day that I’m amazed.

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