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In recent years, alarm clocks have become more sophisticated and technologically advanced. If you choose, you can now have an alarm clock that simulates sunlight and projects the time and date onto your ceiling; you don’t even have to roll over to find out what time it is. Indeed, the list of available alarm clock features continues to grow. Sifting through all the options can be overwhelming, but not to worry; we’re here to help!
At BestReviews, we do the research, dig through consumer reviews, and test the products you use most to bring you honest, unbiased reviews. We don’t accept free products or other gestures from companies in exchange for a mention or review. Our goal is to provide readers with the honest, unbiased info they need to make the most of their purchasing dollars. Below, we provide an in-depth shopping guide that gives you an overview of the many available alarm clock options. When you’re ready to buy an alarm clock, please skip to the top of this page and check out our five favorite alarm clocks on today’s market.
Analog alarm clocks are powered either by battery or electricity. Most have one alarm setting and some, but not all, have a snooze button. They don’t offer any of the latest technology or frills, but they get the job done. Their small size makes them ideal for travel.
Analog alarm clocks are now considered “old fashioned” thanks to advances in digital and wireless technology. If you’re looking for something simple and inexpensive, an analog alarm clock might be all you need.
You can find analog alarm clocks in lots of different styles, designs, and colors.
People who startle easily may wish to consider an alarm clock with gentle alarm sounds, such as birds singing or chimes ringing.
Digital alarm clocks are continually developing and integrating the latest technology. They can be square, round, egg-shaped, or any number of novelty shapes. Some have a docking station for a phone or MP3 device.
Some run only on batteries while others are corded with a battery backup. Some are basic in design with a few extra features like a built-in radio with dual alarms while others have a list of features that could include sunlight simulation, adjustable snooze times, Bluetooth compatibility, and sleep timers.
Indeed, digital alarm clocks offer the utmost in versatility and options. You might pay a little more for a digital alarm clock than you would an analog alarm clock, but the options it offers could be worth it to you.
There are plenty of simple digital and analog alarm clocks that cost less than $10. If you don’t want or need a lot of extra features, one of these simple clocks might work best.
There are more types of batteries available for alarm clocks now than ever before. The most common types are lithium-ion and alkaline. Lithium-ion batteries offer the longest run times, but traditional alkaline batteries are less expensive.
The first alarm clock was invented in 1559 in Turkey.
Power Failure Features
Power failure features vary greatly from clock to clock. Some clocks have an alarm that goes off if the power goes out; others keep the clock running but won’t set off the alarm until the electricity comes back on. Still others go dim to conserve power in an outage, but when a button is pushed, the clock displays the time.
Some alarm clocks are able to charge any device that uses a USB cord, such as a tablet, MP3 player, or smartphone.
A few alarm clocks that project the time on the wall can also project the date and temperature.
The most important feature on an alarm clock is arguably the alarm itself. You’ll find there is a good deal of variation within this one feature.
Volume and Tone
A basic alarm clock will have one tone and one volume for that tone. But pricier models will allow you to not only choose the tone style – beep, buzz, radio, podcast – but the volume as well. Adjustable alarm volume comes in handy for people who have a hard time waking up in the morning. It’s also a good feature for people who wake easily.
A built-in radio lets you wake to your favorite radio station.
Alarm clocks with an iPod or smartphone docking station can charge your device during the night. This type of alarm clock can usually play music or be set using your portable device.
A vibration setting uses movement and noise to help you wake up. Some vibrating alarm clocks are designed to be placed under a pillow or in the bed.
These gentle alarms progressively get louder the longer they run. They aren’t as startling as other types of alarms, and many people find the progressive nature of the tones helps them rouse from sleep naturally.
Whether you need a second alarm to wake you after hitting snooze or you’re part of a couple with different wake-up times, a dual alarm is a convenient feature. It can save you from buying a second alarm and keep you from being late.
If falling asleep is a challenge for you, you may want to look into an alarm clock that plays nature sounds. You can program the clock to play the sound of rain or waves for a set amount time each night. These sounds can also be used to gently wake you in the morning.
Alarm clocks that use sunlight simulation in addition to a buzzer or the radio are intended to naturally wake the body. The alarm clock emits a gentle glows that brightens the room just as sunlight would, alerting your body that it’s time to wake up.
Bluetooth capability is a newer feature that has expanded the use of alarm clocks. Once the alarm clock is synced to your smartphone, you can choose to wake up to a specific song, playlist, or podcast. Some alarm clocks double as a Bluetooth speaker when a smartphone or MP3 device is plugged in.
Heavy sleepers may need more than the usual alarm clock. There are alarm clocks with extreme volume (think 113 decibels or more) that can actually shake a bed via a unit placed under the mattress.
Do you want an alarm clock with an adjustable snooze time?
Many people appreciate the opportunity to hit snooze a couple of times without running late for work or school. An alarm clock with adjustable snooze allows you to set the length of time between alarms when you hit the snooze button.
Do you want an alarm clock that projects imagery?
Some alarm clocks will project the date and/or time on the wall or ceiling. These clocks make checking the time as easy as looking up. Some projectors activate when the alarm goes off while others require you to press a button.
Do you hit snooze before you’ve even opened your eyes? You may want to get a clock that can get away. Some alarm clocks have wheels and move around the room until you get out of bed to catch them.
Does your eyesight necessitate a certain type of alarm clock display?
Readability is a key feature in an alarm clock, especially if you have poor eyesight. Backlit displays with large numbers are usually the easiest to see. Clocks with an adjustable brightness feature allow you to keep the display bright or darken it completely at night for better rest.
Do you plan to take the alarm clock with you during travel?
Business people and others who travel frequently will appreciate a small, compact alarm clock. This allows you to use the same alarm clock at home as you do when you are away.
Do you want your alarm clock to wake you at different times depending on the day of week?
An alarm clock with a weekday/weekend programming feature lets you set different wake-up times based on the day of the week.
Q. What’s a reasonable price for an alarm clock?
A. Like many items today, the amount you’ll pay for an alarm clock depends on how much technology you want layered onto it. If you desire nothing but a simple analog alarm clock that rouses you with a single tone, you could spend as little as $10. A slightly more sophisticated clock radio might cost $20 or so. If you want a deluxe digital alarm clock with screen projection, Bluetooth capability, MP3 player, or other cool features, you’re looking at a price of anywhere from $40 to $90.
Q. My doctor recommended I get an alarm clock that will help with my circadian rhythm. What features should I look for?
A. Many modern alarm clocks are designed to stimulate the natural wake and sleep cycle of the body. Clocks with sunlight simulation help give the body visual cues that it’s time to wake up. Clocks with progressive alarms provide gentle auditory cues. When the body has a chance to wake slowly, it can better prepare for the day, which may help you you feel more rested.
Q. I have poor eyesight and trouble reading my analog alarm clock at night. I want to get a digital alarm clock that’s easy to read. Are there features that make some digital clocks easier to read than others?
A. A large, backlit digital display is helpful for people with poor eyesight. Backlit displays shine light from behind the numbers, making them easier to read in the dark. You’ll also want to look for a clock with large control buttons. With big buttons, you won’t need to squint to see what you’re doing.
You may also want to consider an alarm clock that projects onto the wall. The projected numbers will be larger than the display, making it even easier to read.
Q. Can I use my smartphone to control my alarm clock?
A. There are alarm clocks that can be controlled and synced with a smartphone, tablet, or MP3 player. You’ll need to be sure that the alarm clock is compatible with your device. Some of these alarm clocks use Bluetooth and can be used to charge your device. Others will require the purchase of a separate USB cord.
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