There must be a special space reserved at the table in Valhalla for any designer able to make a fat brick look hot; if that’s true, then there’s a seat reserved right next to Jonny Ive’s for the Vers 1.5R’s designer (and yes, both design heaven and design hell are Scandinavian. Don’t believe me? Take a look at an IKEA catalog; now, go experience a 1980s-era Saab).
Sound from the 1.5R is impressive, even when compared with some stand-alone docks — but especially when compared with other clock-radio docks. The single 15W speaker and rear-facing bass-port do a really good job of delivering rich, full sound; it’s underpowered if filling a room, but perfect next to your pillow. And the hand-crafted black-lacquer case is of the same material used on high-end speaker systems, which Vers says plays a role in the enhanced sound quality of the unit.
The unit will obviously output AM/FM radio and will dock with any iPod/iPhone; sound can also enter the unit through an auxiliary 3.5 mm input jack. The display’s three brightness levels seem just about right for day, evening and night use; the lowest setting was perfect with the lights off — just bright enough to see without being obtrusive.
Most clock-docks don’t come with remotes, but the 1.5R’s jumbo controller is without doubt the most comprehensive and robust of any sort of dock I’ve seen.
The glossy black brick is just plain satisfying to use. From the solid, velvety way the volume and tuning dials rotate to the shape and color of the backlit alpha-numeric display, sophisticated little details abound on the 1.5R; even the smoothness with which sound fades down when the sleep timer runs out lends to the feel of a slickly finished product.
About the only drawbacks are the fact that the unit tends to take up a little more real estate on my bedside table than I’d like, and, for a clock-radio, its exorbitant price — about double that of most other clock-docks. But again, one should bear in mind that the sound really does compete with other docks at that price point with no clock-radio. And for some reason, a few weeks into testing the volume knob began to randomly pull the tuning knob along with it; it happened sporadically, and wasn’t enough to be truly annoying — still, not something I’d expect from a $200-plus clock-radio.
As icing on the cake (or of primary concern to some), the 1.5R is awash in green cred: Vers spec’d a class D amplifier and switiching adapter, both of which Vers says significantly reduce the unit’s energy consumption. In additon, the company seems to take a very proactive ethical stance, from the sourcing of materials to their packaging.