The Micronta VoxClock, Cat # 63-902 is a blind-friendly and vintage, yet completely accessible talking digital clock, that is cubed shaped.
It features a powerful-sounding speaker, highly intelligible retro male voice, silver colored real-metal speaker grill, simulated walnut grain sides, and controls on the bottom for setting the current time, volume, and so on. Press the lone button on the top to hear the current time. Set the current time with a few simple pushes of buttons on the bottom. This 1980s timepiece is a blind user’s dream! While Radio Shack incorporated few other features besides just a highly accurate clock into this little cube, the voice announcing more than makes up for any of that.
Advantages, Features, and Pros
All programmable features of this original VoxClock cube are accessible to blind and vision impaired users. You need no sight to fully operate this digital clock.
Buttons and switches include: Announce (on the top), Hour, Minute, and Set buttons, along with Hourly Announce and Volume switches on the bottom.
Simulated walnut grain finish on all four sides. Black bottom. Solid plastic case.
Can announce the time every hour, at the top of the hour. A pleasant chime-style song and gong brackets these announcements.
Two volume settings (Low and High).
Accurate low-current digital clock, that can run for more than two years on a fresh set of three double A alkaline batteries.
Well-designed and durable construction. Explains why so many on the swap boards are still working well.
The time of day can be easily set to the nearest second. In time set mode, after you enter the correct hour and upcoming minute numbers, the clock starts beeping, one beep per second. When the top of the minute passes, press the Set button again, to synchronize the time down to the second (VoxClock 1). You’ll know you’ve done it right if the clock announces the newly set time at this point.
The original VoxClock has no wake-up alarms. It just keeps very good time, and announces it quite well when needed.
Currently, you can find this on eBay for prices ranging from $20 all the way up to more than $100. So shop around. We’ve purchased two already, and may buy more to give as Christmas gifts.
Disadvantages, Problems, Limitations, and Cons
By today’s standards, the male voice synthesizer herein may sound too robotic, monotonous, or metallic to some. However, it is highly understandable, especially the Voxclock 2, which features a significantly clearer synthesized voice.
No longer available. However, with so many of these units having been manufactured during the 1980s, lots of used ones can still be purchased on eBay et al.
No visual display. Al though, this may have been a blessing because, without a digital readout, this clock’s designers absolutely had to assure that all its features could be read and set via the voice synthesizer.
The metal speaker grill is highly susceptible to dents. Avoid bumping it into sharp corners such as found on some tables or chair handles.
No instructions on how to set this are printed on the bottom. But doing so is pretty intuitive, and easily figured out, by playing around and pressing the various buttons a few times and listening to the results.
Only two volume settings: High and Low. A volume knob or slider potentiometer would have been more useful. Sometimes, the low setting is too soft, but the loud setting is too loud.
Since this unit is no longer made, it is becoming more and more difficult to find for affordable prices. So get yours now, while you can still afford it.
Since the speaker grill faces up, it can accumulate dust particles in its holes from falling dust debris from ceilings and furniture above the clock’s position. However, this can be removed with periodic vacuuming with a horsehair vacuum brush. Avoid blowing the dust out with forced air however, as this can drive it inside the clock speaker further, and potentially damage the speaker.
Neither announces, nor keeps track of, the current date; just the time of day. No calendar features.
Does not announce room temperature, as some more recent talking devices do.
No wake alarm feature. Just tells the current time and can announce it at each top of hour.
Released originally in 1983, this VoxClock, the debut version in this line, represented a major technological advance in electronic speech-based user interfaces for the blind and vision impaired. For perhaps the first time in history, Radio Shack produced an affordable talking clock, that reflected much forethought into how the device should best function for those coping with limited sight or complete vision loss. Hats off to Radio Shack for producing such a helpful yet affordable timepiece. We’d rate this and the entire Micronta VoxClock line at 97 out of 100.
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- 2015-11-15: Added appropriate tags.
- 2014-11-12: Originally published this piece.