Art Lebedev Verbarius Word Clock Lightning Review

The Gadget: The Verbarius electronic clock by Art Lebedev, a design firm that's also given us fancy gadgets like the OLED Optimus Maximus keyboard, icon fridge magnets, folder flash drives and the upcoming Optimus Aux keypad. The Verbarius displays time not by numbers, but solely by phrases like "Twenty-nine past eleven a.m." or "Half past ten".

The Price: $US190

The Verdict: Amazing, but pricey. The clock works just as described, displaying phrases instead of times. You can have up to ten different variations on a single "minute", so 10:10 could be "ten ten", "ten past ten", "ten minutes past ten", "fifty til eleven", or whatever other weird notation you can think of. To make your own language packs (it already comes with English, French, Russian and Spanish), just make an .xls file and send it to Art Lebedev. They'll convert it to Verbarius' proprietary format.

There are a few quirks to the clock though. First, it's not battery-operated, so you'll have to plug it using the included USB AC adaptor or any USB source. Second, the internal CPU is slow (as you'd expect in a clock), so adjusting the time is actually incredibly sluggish. It takes more than a second to change the hour or minute, and you can only change it one tick at a time—no holding it down.

The biggest oddity is how the default English language pack sometimes displays minutes. Ten three? Ten two? Nobody says this. It's easily fixed in a software update, so we're not going to dock off too many points for this.

After having actually used the clock for a while, we have to agree with our first instincts. It's definitely a very, very cool time-telling device, but $US190 is a bit steep. If it were somewhere down in the $US120 to $US140 range, we'd be all over it. [Art Lebedev]