The Emerson™ CKS1708 SmartSet® Clock Radio is small enough to fit on any nightstand, table, or desktop.
It automatically sets itself to the correct time after a power outage. This alarm clock system retains time and settings in memory powered by a CR2032 lithium battery. The battery life exceeds a year, and may last quite a bit longer if the over all time disconnected from main power is small. Plus, any set alarms will still sound during the outage, even though the LED display shows nothing during outages. With these two features alone, this unit overcomes so many limitations of earlier model clock radios. But then, there’s also the purchase price to consider. We paid $20 for ours at Walmart; a virtual steal by yesterday’s clock radio standards; although prices like this for products like this, are typical these days. Large, bright digits as well, with adjustable brightness. Over all, for the casual clock radio user, Emerson created a winner here.
Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages
SmartSet® technology refers to Emerson’s patented automatic time setting system. Clock does not lose track of the current time during power failures, due to the included CR2032 lithium backup battery. The battery powers a very low power internal clock through such outages, and the current time is transferred to the main clock upon main power returning. Ours set itself to the right time right out of the box when plugged in. Takes three to five seconds for this automatic operation to finish.
Sure Alarm®. Assures that set alarms will sound at the correct times, whether main power is present or not. However, a smaller driver plays the alarm sounds during power outages; probably to more effectively conserve backup battery power.
Automatic daylight savings time setting. The clock automatically sets itself to daylight savings time on the second Sunday morning in March, and falls back to standard time on the first Sunday in November.
Six time zone settings. The clock radio can be set to Atlantic Time, Eastern Time, Central Time, Rocky Time, Pacific Time, Hawaii Time, and Yukon Time.
Large LED display. The jumbo sized 1.4” blue LED readout can be seen ten or more feet away in most any lighting condition except for direct bright sunlight.
Day of week indicator. Displays the current day beneath the time display (MON, TUE, WED, THU, FRI, SAT, or SUN).
Dimmable readout. Choose from two display brightness levels. Even at full brightness however, while easily read, the blue LEDs are not so bright as to become obnoxious. Nor does the dimmest setting appear too dark to read at all.
All controls on top. The time set, date set, time zone set, radio power, snooze, dimmer level, sleep, volume, tuning, and alarm 1 and alarm 2 programming buttons can all be found across the top panel. No buttons, sliders, or lever switches to look for on the underside or back of the CKS1708.
Rear firing speaker. Though by no means high in fidelity, the small speaker at the back plays loudly enough to achieve room filling volume. Not much treble, and deep bass is virtually non existent. However, CKS1708 sounds plenty good for run-of-the-mill clock radio applications at bed sides. It may not sound great. But it WILL wake you up.
Gradually increasing volume alarms. To avoid abruptness that startles many sleepers, the CKS1708 alarms start out with a low repeating beep sound, and gradually increase it in volume until either maximum loudness is reached, or the sleeper awakens and either snoozes or turns off the alarm.
Dual independent alarms. Each alarm can be separately set to play the built-in radio or buzzer sound, and can be programmed to go off on every weekday (Monday through Friday), every weekend day (Saturday and Sunday), as well as on all days (weekdays and weekend days).
90 minute sleep timer. Go to sleep to the radio playing, for up to 90 minutes before shutting itself off.
Alarm state indicator. In addition to the time and day of week, the display also shows the current state of each of the two alarms; whether it’s set to sound, and what that sound is to be (radio or buzzer). The indicator also blinks, letting you know which alarm is going off.
Auto alarm repeat. You need not remember to turn on the alarm again after shutting it off. The CKS1708 automatically resets the alarm to go off at the scheduled time on the next scheduled day.
PLL AM / FM Tuner. Phase locked loop tuning. Digital control. You tune by pressing up and down buttons. No analog knob style tuning means no broken dial cords and no dirty tuner controls. Note that the radio itself will not play with main power disconnected. The backup battery only sustains clock time and alarm programs. It neither lights the LED display, nor powers the radio.
Station scan feature. When you hold down the UP or DOWN tuning arrow keys for a second or two, the CKS1708 enters scan mode, where it begins at the current frequency, and scans through the next or previous frequencies. It stops on the next one where a station is broadcasting.
Press ON / press OFF power button. One quick click turns the radio on, and then, another turns it back off when you’re finished listening.
Snooze bar. Press to silence the alarm / radio for some minutes to catch a few more Zzzzzs.
Auxiliary input. Allows you to play your favorite media player device through the built-in speaker. Accepts a 3.5mm cord plug from a CD player, iPod, and such.
Low battery indicator. The display shows a symbol when the included lithium backup battery requires replacing.
Built in AM and FM antennae. The power cord also functions as the FM areal.
Storage compartment for power adapter. The radio can be packed up for transport by tucking the power adapter plug into the bottom of the radio. A locking mechanism then holds it in place until you’re ready to plug it into power again.
Dimensions: 8”Wide x 3.7”High x 4.4” Deep
UL and ETL Listed. This product is safe.
Disadvantages, Cons, Limitations, Drawbacks, and Concerns
Display digits not uniformly illuminated. The centers of each digit segment glow noticeably more brightly than the ends, which can create confusion about what time is actually being displayed when too far away. The picture on the original carton seems to downplay this effect.
Transistor radio sound. The monophonic speaker sounds tinny and thin. No stereo sound either; not even for earphones. True however, that expectations of any better sound for the $20 price tag, would be asking too much.
Battery replacement requires screwdriver. To change the CR2032 button battery, you’ll need a small Philips screwdriver to loosen the single screw that holds the battery compartment door closed. However, these batteries typically last for years in this application, so you won’t have to do this very often, if ever. Sometimes, they can last the entire life of the clock radio.
Permanently attached power cord. One reason why this clock radio is so lightweight, is the external power supply. It’s an old-style, “wall wart” transformer type. Somewhat bulky and heavy. Surprising that devices like this still use transformers, in light of the popular switch mode supplies available these days. Nonetheless, if an external power adapter is to be used, then we prefer it to be detachable, and thus, replaceable by the user.
We’ve never known Emerson Radio to manufacture anything that’s truly top of the line. However, their stuff isn’t junk either; surprising, given how little we spent for this digital clock radio. Indeed, we were surprised to see how accurate the clock maintains the time, even during power outages, and we like that there aren’t any analog controls to wear out or become erratic as dust and dirt slowly penetrate them over time. The Emerson Smart Set Clock Radio CKS1708 was built to last a decade at least, and while its music sound is less impressive, it functions well as a general purpose alarm clock radio combo. So we rate it at 93 out of 100.
Look for it in the red and white box with the black, red, and white print, at Walmart, Amazon, eBay, and other online and brick-and-mortar stores. The clock radio itself sports a silver and black case with a dark blue face.
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- 2017-03-19: Updated the tags list.
- 2017-02-20: Updated the tags list.
- 2015-10-02: Originally published.