What Can an Alarm Clock Do That a Smartphone Can’t?
The top performers in our review are the iHome iDN38, the Gold Award winner; the Electrohome Projection Alarm Clock, the Silver Award winner; and the Emerson Dual Alarm Clock Radio, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing an alarm clock to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
With the advances in cell phone technology, people have moved toward using smartphones instead of alarm clocks to wake up in the mornings. Since alarm clocks have been around for decades, they may seem like antiquated devices. They have progressed throughout the years, and with today’s technology, alarm clocks have a lot more to offer than a simple smartphone alarm.
You can customize your alarm clock to wake you up in the way that works best for you, whether that is by shaking your bed, flashing lights, playing music or using progressive beeping. Finding the best alarm clock to fit your style helps you wake up on the right side of the bed.
A basic alarm clock is pretty straightforward with standard features like a snooze button, volume controls and a button to adjust display brightness. New alarm clocks focus on accuracy and come with a variety of features. With a radio alarm, you can set a preset radio station you want to wake up to. You can also find alarm clocks with dual alarms, which wake up two people at different times, or progressive alarms that increasingly get louder. Some have docking stations that charge your phone and allow you to use your own music as an alarm.
While there are alarm clocks with even more features, like those that wake you up with light or require you get out of bed to turn them off, we focused on more mainstream models that range in price from $8.00 to $50.00. Our reviews and articles on alarm clocks will help you find the best alarm clock to integrate into your daily routine.
Some of the alarm clocks we reviewed display the outdoor temperature as well as the time. If you are looking for a more detailed weather report while checking the time, check out our weather stations review site.
Alarm Clocks: What We Tested, What We Found
We performed several tests on the alarm clocks to evaluate accuracy, ease of use and customization. The manufacturers offer specifications that detail the features of each alarm clock, and we tested those features to evaluate how accurate and dependable each alarm is.
To work effectively, an alarm clock must be accurate. Because of this, we performed several tests to evaluate the time and snooze accuracy of each one.
We tested the alarm clocks’ snooze functions to see if the manufacturers’ advertised snooze increments were accurate and to verify how long you can snooze before the alarm stops beeping altogether. Alarm clocks featuring sleep timers with music were tested to make sure the music turned off when it was supposed to, and we checked if they played the set music.
We found that most of the alarm clocks alarmed when they were scheduled to. The La Crosse Technology Alarm Clock received a slightly lower accuracy score than the rest because the time between each snooze varied slightly, though it was only off by a few seconds. We also found that the clocks all kept time well, whether they work off of atomic time or are set manually. Most of the clocks varied by only a of couple seconds.
Each alarm clock’s backup battery was tested to see if it kicked in when the unit lost power and to make sure it maintained the correct time when this happened. We found that some alarms are only capable of keeping the time in backup mode, while others still alarm on battery operation. Each of these tests allowed us to evaluate the alarm clocks’ accuracy and determine if they are dependable.
Ease of Use
As you wake up, you do not want to struggle to turn off your alarm. Because of this, it is important you purchase a clock that is easy to use. We found that certain features make alarm clocks user friendly.
We tested the noise level of each alarm at its loudest setting. Most of the clocks allow you to adjust the alarm volume, so they alert you to wake up at a pitch you can stand. Some clocks even have progressive alarms that start off low and gradually get louder.
We also took note of alarm clocks that have large snooze buttons located in easy-to-find places. Alarm clocks with backlights are easy to read, and those that allow you to adjust the brightness of the screen to fit your needs are even better.
Advanced features that require little maintenance on your part make an alarm clock convenient to use. For example, alarm clocks with atomic or auto sync times only have to be plugged in, and they set the correct time by themselves. Some alarms also automatically adjust for daylight savings time, so you do not have to remember to change your clocks twice a year. These features serve as key differentiators between our top-rated alarm clocks and those further down the ranking.
We found that customizable alarm clocks are more convenient to use. Some clocks allow you to set your alarm for only week days or weekends, so you don’t have to turn off your alarm every couple of days. The best clocks only require you to set your alarm once and then let your forget about it. Some alarms even let you adjust the snooze time to fit your own sleeping and waking patterns.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the units in our comparison either on loan from the companies or through retail purchase. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else Is Important When Selecting an Alarm Clock?
While accuracy, usability and customization are important to consider when purchasing an alarm clock, there are other features that make it more versatile and useful. Whether you like waking up gently to soft noise or need your entire bed to shake before you wake up, finding an alarm clock that works with your habits is important. The alarm clocks we tested usually offered at least two alarms and a volume button. We also looked for helpful features on the alarm clocks like a calendar, temperatures, dates or radio stations.
Alarm Options: Finding the Right Sound
When choosing an alarm clock, the sound the alarm makes and the volume it projects at are equally important. Whether you require a jolting sound or a progressive alarm that starts out low and gets louder, you need a clock that gets you up in the best way and prepares you for the rest of the day. The alarm clocks we reviewed offered some customization, so you can change the alarm to fit your style. However, most only offer buzzer or music alarm options. We also reviewed some alarm clocks that offer music, light or vibration to help you wake up.
Date, Temperature and Music
Alarm clocks have progressed throughout the years. Now you can find clocks that not only show the time and wake you up, but also include music, calendars or temperature readouts as well. By combining all of these features, your alarm clock is more versatile and alerts you to everything you need to know before you begin your day. Some alarm clocks even have projectors built in that display the time on your walls, making it easier to track time during the night.
Alarm Clocks: Our Verdict and Recommendations
While all of the alarm clocks we reviewed were accurate and shared similar features, three products stood out among the rest: the iHome iDN38, the Electrohome Projection Alarm Clock EAAC601 and the Emerson Dual Alarm Clock Radio CKS9031. These alarm clocks have several features that make them easier and more convenient to use than the others. You can customize them to fit your wake-up style and rely on them to wake you up at the correct time. With a variety of features, including sleep timers, dual alarms and radios, you can use these products as more than just alarm clocks.
In addition to being an alarm clock, the iHome iDN38 also serves as a radio, phone charger and docking station for your Apple device. In addition, you can sync your device with the system to use your music both as an alarm and just for casual listening. It also has an auto sync feature, which automatically adjusts the clock to your phone’s time when you plug it in. This way, you don’t have to correct the time or adjust it for daylight savings. It kept accurate time during all of our tests, and if the power goes out when you are using it, the alarm still chimes at the correct time.
The Electrohome Projection Alarm and Emerson Dual Alarm both offer a variety of features that make them easy to use and help you personalize them. Both feature automatic sync time and the option to sound your alarm on specific days of the week, making them superior to other alarm clocks. Additionally, they have radios, sleep timers, dual and progressive alarms, and present the date on their displays.
If you have trouble waking up in the morning or have kids that do, the Sonic Bomb Super Shaker SBB500ss also serves as a good option. The alarm clock has a vibrating attachment you put on your bed, and it shakes you awake when the alarm goes off. The alarm clock also has flashing lights and is comparatively louder than the other alarm clocks on our lineup. While it does not have additional features like a radio or date and temperature display, it is an effective alarm clock that ensures you wake up when it goes off.