Picture of the Emerson CKS1708 SmartSet Clock Radio, top front view, showing blue LED display and the buttons.

Emerson SmartSet CKS1708 Clock Radio Review

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. Often, it lasts quite a bit longer if the over all time off of 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.

Picture of the Emerson CKS1708 SmartSet Clock Radio, top front view, showing blue LED display and the buttons.
Emerson CKS1708 SmartSet Clock Radio, top front view, showing blue LED display and the buttons.

Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages of the Emerson SmartSet CKS1708 Alarm Clock Radio

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.

Auto 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.

Shows Day of Week

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 controls included follow.

  • The time set,
  • Date set,
  • Time zone set,
  • Radio power,
  • Snooze,
  • Dimmer level,
  • Sleep,
  • Volume,
  • Tuning,
  • Alarm 1 and alarm 2 programming buttons.

Find all of these across the top panel.  No buttons, sliders, or lever switches on the underside or back of the CKS1708.

Rear Firing Speaker

By no means is the radio high fidelity. But the small speaker at the back can play at room filling volume.  Not much treble.  No deep bass.  However, CKS1708 sounds plenty good for run-of-the-mill clock radios.  It does not sound great.  But it WILL wake you up.

Gradually Rising Volume Alarms

To avoid abruptness that startles many sleepers, the CKS1708 alarms start out with a low repeating beep sound.  The sound then gets louder and louder.  Does that until either the alarm hits max loudness, or the sleeper either snoozes or turns off the alarm.

Dual Alarms

Set each alarm separately. Set it to play the built-in radio or buzzer sound. Plus, you may program each alarm to go off on…

  • Every weekday (Monday through Friday).
  • Every weekend day (Saturday and Sunday).
  • 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

The display shows the time and day of week. It 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 alarm 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 resets the alarm to go off at the right 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

Hold down the UP or DOWN tuning arrow keys for a second or two. Then the CKS1708 enters scan mode.  There, it begins at the current frequency, and scans through the next or previous frequencies.  Finally, it stops when it finds a station.

ON / OFF Power Button

One quick click turns the radio on, and then. Clicking again turns it back off when done 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 through the built-in speaker.  Accepts a 3.5 mm cord plug from a CD player, iPod, and such.

Low Battery Lamp

The display shows a symbol when the lithium backup battery needs changing.

Built In AM and FM Antennas

The power cord also functions as the FM areal.

Storage 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 system 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.

Picture of the Emerson CKS1708 Sure Alarm Clock Radio, bottom view, showing battery door, power supply compartment, and auxiliary speaker.
Emerson CKS1708 Sure Alarm Clock Radio, bottom view, showing battery door, power supply compartment, and auxiliary speaker.

Disadvantages, Cons, Limitations, and Drawbacks of the Emerson SmartSet CKS1708 Clock Radio

Display Digits Not Evenly Lit

The centers of each digit segment glow noticeably more brightly than the ends. This can make confusion about what time is showing when too far away.  The picture on the original carton downplays this.

Transistor Radio Sound

The mono speaker sounds tinny and thin.  No stereo sound either; not even for earphones.  True though, that wanting any better sound for the $20 price tag, would be asking too much.

Battery Changing Requires a Screwdriver

To change the CR2032 button battery, you need a small Philips screwdriver. Then loosen the single screw that holds the battery door closed.

But these batteries typically last years. So you won’t have to do this very often.  Sometimes, these batteries last the whole life of the radio.

Hard Wired 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 these days.  Still, when they use a power adapter, then we want it detachable.  That way, the user can easily put on a new one if needed.

Picture of the Emerson CKS1708 SmartSet Clock Radio, back view, showing the main radio and alarm speaker.
Emerson CKS1708 SmartSet Clock Radio, back view, showing the main radio and alarm speaker.

Our Rating

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 keeps time.  Even during power outages it holds the time.

Further, we like no analog controls to wear out as dust slowly builds up in them.  They built the Emerson SmartSet clock radio CKS1708 to last a decade at least.

Finally, 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. Find it at Walmart, Amazon, eBay, and other online and brick-and-mortar stores.  The clock radio sports a silver and black case with a dark blue face.

Related Posts

References for the Emerson SmartSet CKS1708 Radio Clock

Revision History

  • 2019-03-23: Added tags, subheadings, and key phrase targeting.
  • 2017-03-19: Updated the tags list.
  • 2017-02-20: Updated the tags list.
  • 2015-10-02: Originally published.