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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.
The TravelWey LED Digital Alarm Clock is a quality product for an incredibly reasonable price. A reliable alarm without too many bells and whistles, this clock is good for those who simply need to make sure they get up on time. Heavy sleepers will not have to worry about snoozing through their alarm as TravelWay’s digital clock features one of the loudest alarms on the market. It will continue for five minutes, giving you plenty of time to hear it and shut it off.
Additionally, the digital alarm clock features jumbo size red LED digits with adjustable lighting. Allow the numbers to shine brightly in the darkness of your room or dim the numbers to a level of brightness you’re comfortable with. For children who might be afraid of the dark, the TravelWey LED Digital Alarm Clock comes with a handy nightlight. The power cord works with any US 120V outlet, but you can also use AAA batteries for backup should a power outage occur. You should avoid using a 240V outlet to power this alarm.
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.
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.
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.
If sound quality is a large factor for you, the Sangean RCR-20 Clock Radio should definitely be your pick. More than just an alarm clock, this product can double as your main bedroom speaker. The RCR’s speaker has a powerful sound back by a bass reflex tube, giving its audio a richer bass sound. You also have the option to adjust the bass, treble, and balance to your individual liking, a feature not common among alarm clock speakers.
The Sangean RCR-20 combines a simple-to-set alarm clock system with the ability to enjoy your favorite radio shows. Preset up to 18 stations (nine AM and nine FM) to only hear the channels that you want to.
Finally, this clock radio has a bright LED screen that’s easy to read and a USB port for charging smartphones. Although it’s powered by an AC adapter, it comes with a pair of backup AA batteries. This option is handy in the event of power outages, as you won’t have to worry about oversleeping or having to reset your alarm.
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.
Every alarm clock is different, but characteristics shared by most models sold today include the following:
It’s becoming increasingly common for alarm clocks to integrate smart features into their design. These items use wireless connectivity to link with apps via the internet, providing a variety of extra uses and features. Using the Amazon Echo Spot as an example, smart alarms often let you use voice commands to set timers or make phone calls. It’s also possible to turn on music or access the internet or a TV program. These features are often hands-off, letting you get more accomplished without having to manually set an alarm or pick up a phone.
These attributes provide a modern touch for your alarm, giving it abilities far beyond just waking you up on time.
When shopping for a new alarm clock and comparing different brands and models, here are a few important questions to keep in mind:
Let’s look at a few 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.
Smart Lights: If you’re not into blaring alarm clocks, you can always choose lighting to create a noise-free alarm. During certain times of day, light can stimulate the body, suppressing melatonin levels and naturally signaling to your body that it’s time to get up and start a new day.
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: