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Most of us rely on an alarm clock to wake up on time in the morning. While many use the built-in alarm on their cell phone, physical alarm clocks remain a popular bedroom accessory. The alarm clock as a product has advanced greatly in recent years to include more than programmable alarms and snooze options. Today’s models often feature LCD displays, ‘weekend mode’ settings, wall projectors, and Bluetooth connectivity.
However, the most important factor for choosing an alarm clock is performance. Sleepers require a clock that will reliably wake them up each morning. The best alarm clocks also come with customizable volume and snooze options to accommodate sleepers with different needs and preferences. And while high-tech alarms tend to cost more than minimalist models, the majority of alarm clocks sold today can be purchased for less than $130.
Read on to learn more about how to choose the right alarm clock for you, as well as our picks for the best alarm clocks sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
The best alarm clocks are capable of much more than simply waking you up. Our Editor’s Pick, the Amazon Echo Spot, is a home automation system that features an alarm clock along with dozens of additional features. The Echo Spot connects to Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service that responds to voice recognition. Alexa will read the news, stream music or videos, provide weather reports, and enable users to make online purchases. The alarm system allows sleepers to program alarms using their favorite songs or recordings, as well.
As a home automation system, the Echo Spot also locks and unlocks doors, activates security systems, streams video surveillance and baby monitor footage, and adjusts indoor thermostats. The hands-free system can also be used to make video or phone calls, or place food deliveries. Despite these capabilities, the Echo Spot is very compact. The device has a 2.5″ high-resolution screen and a 1.4″ speaker, as well as a flat base that allows it to rest on any bedside table.
The Amazon Echo Spot starts at $129.99, making it a good option for shoppers with bigger budgets. Amazon Prime members qualify for one-day delivery when they order an Echo Spot, and standard shipping is free for most non-Prime members in the U.S. The Echo Spot is backed by a one-year warranty.
In recent years, wake-up lights have become a popular choice for sleepers. Rather than using loud sounds, these alarms cast bright lights that mimic natural sunrises. The Philips Wake-Up Light is a standout due to its high levels of customization. The clock offers 10 different brightness settings up to 300 lux to accommodate sleepers with different light preferences, as well as a dimming sunset function that helps users fall asleep more easily. The sunset duration is also programmable for 20 to 40 minutes in duration.
The sunrise setting in the Philips Wake-Up Light is also highly advanced, transitioning from red to orange to bright yellow. And unlike other wake-up lights, the Philips model also comes equipped with an audio alarm for those who prefer to wake up to a combination of light and sound. Two individual alarms and five ambient wake-up sounds are included.
Lastly, the Philips Wake-Up Light has a back-up battery that allows the light to perform without battery power for up to eight hours. This alarm is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and a two-year warranty.
Sleepers who prefer to wake up to light as well as sound
Our pick for Best Alarm Features is the Electrohome EAAC601, an alarm clock that projects the time (as well as the date and indoor temperature, if requested) onto the user’s bedroom wall using a crisp, easy-to-read LCD display. The projector also has a 180-degree swivel for optimal customization; most sleepers will be able to find a suitable angle that does not require strain to read the time. Dimming and brightness options allow users to find their ideal display settings, as well.
In addition to the projector, the Electrohome EAAC601 comes loaded with other helpful features. These include connectivity to smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices, which allow owners to stream music or recordings. Other features include a dual alarm for partners with different wake-up times, calendar display, 20 radio presets, sleep and nap timers, and a back-up battery that will completely restore settings in the event of a power outage.
The Electrohome EAAC601 is widely available for $20, making it a great choice for shoppers on a budget. The alarm is backed by a one-year warranty.
Heavier sleepers often find alarm clocks inadequate because they do not produce enough noise to effectively wake them up. The Sonic Boom from Sonic Alert is a notable exception. This alarm clock is designed to rouse even the deepest sleepers with a programmable alarm that reaches up to 113 decibels in volume. The clock also has flashing, pulsating lights to complement the loud audio, as well as a vibration setting; by placing the clock under the mattress, sleepers will experience a ‘shaking’ sensation powered by 12 volts of electricity. This will be the best option for sleepers who do not want to wake up other people in their home or apartment dwellers who want to be considerate of neighboring units.
Additionally, the Sonic Boom has a snooze alarm that can be defused; this may be a suitable feature for those who tend to hit the snooze alarm while half-asleep. The Sonic Boom is highly compact, measuring 7″ high and 7″ wide, with a flat base that will rest securely on any bedside table.
The Sonic Boom is widely available for less than $35, making it a top-value pick. Amazon Prime members qualify for free one-day shipping when they order a Sonic Boom. The clock is backed by a five-year warranty, which is much longer than average.
Those who tend to hit their snooze alarm before fully waking
Sleepers who prefer to wake up to lights and vibrations, as well as sounds
The iHome IBT29 is one of the most cutting-edge alarm clocks sold today. The device comes equipped with audio alarm sounds, and can also wake up users with radio presets and streaming music Bluetooth-enabled devices. The device also has six built-in color modes for those who prefer visual and audio wake-ups.
Because the iHome IBT29 is Bluetooth-accessible, the clock allows owners to make hands-free speakerphone calls. It also has a USB port that enables users to stream music while their smart device is charging. Owners can program up to six radio presets, and a dual-alarm setting makes it a good option for couples with different wake-up times.
While the iHome IBT29 is very high-tech, it is available for less than $50. Amazon Prime members qualify for free one-day shipping, as well. The iHome IBT29 is backed by a one-year warranty.
Sleepers who prefer to wake up to music or recordings
Alarm clocks have come a long way in recent years. In addition to programmable alarms and snooze options found on traditional models, many of today’s alarm clocks are Wi-Fi-accessible, and include phone, email, and live-chat functions. Other features may include brightness control, automatic time syncing, and different modes for weekday and weekend alarms, and most newer clocks also allow owners to choose from a wide range of different alarm tones and sound effects.
This guide will look at the shared features and functions of most alarm clocks sold today, as well as our top picks for alarm clocks at different price-points.
|Common Features and Functions of Alarm Clocks|
Every alarm clock is different, but characteristics shared by most models sold today include the following:
Customizable alarms: An alarm clock, by definition, allows users to program alarms based on their individual needs. Basic designs allow one or two different alarm times, while more advanced models may allow up to six or more. A select number of newer clocks also offer dedicated weekday and weekend alarms that allow users to get more sleep on days when they don’t work.
Multiple alarm sounds: Some sleepers prefer to wake up to music or ambient noise, while others don’t mind loud beeping sounds. The ideal alarm clock comes equipped with a wide range of sound options, including vibrating options.
Sleep music timer: Alarms that allow music playback may come with a sleep timer that allows users to listen to music for a preset length of time as they fall asleep.
Snooze button: When users hit the snooze button, it triggers a delayed alarm that allows them to sleep or rest for a few more minutes. Traditional alarm clocks feature an automatic 10-minute snooze, but most models made today allow users to customize the snooze duration as they see fit. Some alarm clocks also feature ‘gradual wake up’ settings that sound the alarm at quieter levels that gradually increase until the user turns off the snooze.
Automatic time sync: Traditional alarm clocks require users to manually adjust the time when the device is unplugged or the power goes out, but some newer models automatically sync based on an internal clock. These models may automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time too.
Adjustable volume: Some people prefer loud alarms, while others find that quieter alarms are more effective. Alarm clocks usually allow users to adjust the volume to their ideal level, and some also feature vibrating alarms for gentler wake-ups. The maximum volume in an alarm clock sold today may range anywhere from less than 60 decibels (dB) to more than 110.
Visual display and adjustable brightness: In addition to the current time, some alarm clocks display other information, such as the current date and temperature. Many modern designs feature LCD displays that can be brightened or dimmed to match the user’s visual preferences.
Time projector: Some alarm clocks will project the time onto ceiling and wall surfaces. This allows sleepers to check the time without shifting positions in bed.
Power source: The majority of alarm clocks sold today are powered through AC electrical outlets, while some are battery-operated. Some AC-powered models can also be loaded with backup batteries in case of power outages.
Compact size: Alarm clocks are typically small and lightweight enough to fit on any table or other bedside surface, and most can be easily transported for travel as well.
USB charging: Like many electronic devices sold today, some alarm clocks feature USB ports that can be used to charge smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
Bluetooth compatibility: Many newer alarm clock models can be linked to Bluetooth speakers using a wireless connection.
Lastly, it’s important to note that some alarm clocks come with trial periods that allow purchasers to return the product within a certain period of time if they are not satisfied with it. In addition to trial periods, most alarm clocks come with warranties. A one-year warranty is considered standard, but some models do not come with a warranty of any kind.
|Important Considerations for Alarm Clock Shoppers|
When shopping for a new alarm clock and comparing different brands and models, here are a few important questions to keep in mind:
How much should you pay for an alarm clock? Traditional alarm clocks are widely available for $40 or less through most online retailers, and some newer designs are sold at similar price-points. However, some advanced models may cost as much as $130 or more. Ultimately, you should determine a feasible alarm clock budget before you begin comparing different models.
How many customizable alarms does the clock allow? Some users only require one or two alarms, but people with rotating work schedules or other day-to-day variances may need a clock that allows them to program several different alarms throughout the week.
Does the clock feature multiple alarm sounds? This is an important consideration for people whose sound and music preferences tend to change from night to night.
Is the snooze alarm adjustable? While traditional alarm clocks have a default snooze of roughly 10 minutes, an adjustable snooze may be more suitable for some users.
Does the clock automatically sync? People whose residences are prone to power outages may find that automatically syncing alarms are more suitable.
What is the volume range? Some alarm clocks are softer than others, and users should select an alarm clock based in part on their preferred volume. It’s important to note that many alarm clock manufacturers do not disclose the specific decibel range for the alarm volume.
Is there a visual display? A visual display that shows the date, temperature, and other information can be helpful for some users, and displays that project the time onto ceiling or wall surfaces allow sleepers to check the time without rolling over.
What is the power source? Assuming the alarm clock is AC-powered, cord length may be an important factor for users depending on their bed’s proximity to an electrical outlet (though extension cords can be used). Clocks with backup batteries are usually suitable for people who frequently lose power.
How big is the alarm clock, and how much does it weigh? Though most alarm clocks are relatively compact and lightweight, some are more suitable for smaller spaces and travel than others.
Does the alarm clock feature USB ports? These allow users to charge their smartphone, tablet, and other devices using the clock itself.
Is the alarm compatible with bluetooth speakers? Because of their wireless connection, bluetooth speakers may be more suitable for some bedroom configurations than wired speakers.
Is there a trial period? Some alarm clocks — mostly higher-end models — allow customers to return their alarm within a certain window period. Most, however, do not offer trial periods.
How long does warranty coverage last? Most alarm clock warranties will cover the product for up to one year, but some alarm clocks do not come with warranties.
|Alarm Clock Alternatives|
Let’s look at two relatively low-cost alternatives for those who would prefer not to invest in an alarm clock.
Phone Alarm: Virtually all smartphones sold today (as well as older models) come equipped with an alarm clock, as well as multiple alarm options and different sound effects and ringtones to accommodate users with different preferences. These features are free to use apart from the initial cost of the phone itself; although smartphone price-points vary by provider or retailer, the average cost of a new smartphone in 2017 was more than $500.
The bottom line: As long as you already have a working smartphone, using the device’s pre-programmed alarm is a cost-effective alternative.
Alarm Apps: The average alarm clock app — which can be downloaded onto a smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device — costs $1 or $2, and many are free. Apps offer many of the alarm, snooze, and automatic time sync features as top-rated alarm clocks. For more information about alarm clock app options, please check out our Top Sleep Apps page.
To learn more about using alarm clocks and timing your sleep more effectively, please visit the following Tuck.com pages: