Alarm Clock Recommendations
February 16, 2005 10:00 AM   Subscribe

What's your favorite alarm clock and why? I'm looking for one with a CD player and maybe a dual alarm and the selection I've seen in stores hasn't impressed me.
posted by frenetic to Shopping (25 answers total)
I have a dual alarm CD alarm clock that I loooove because it allows you to set the starting volume and ending volume of the alarm, then increases gradually. And it has a 24 hour reset button so I can groggily press it in the morning and not worry about setting it again at night (something I used to be horrible at).
posted by u.n. owen at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2005

I've got an RCA with dual alarm and CD player. I tried to wake up to CDs but found myself sleeping through them and incorporating the music into my dreams. The alarms are LOUD (though they start soft) and generally work. It is butt ugly though. Are you looking for something aesthetically pleasing? Something with a big LED screen? Something that is LOUD?
posted by shoepal at 10:08 AM on February 16, 2005

Oh, I've had the CD-incorporating-in-my-dreams problem, too. I now use the annoying BEEPBEEPBEEP style.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:13 AM on February 16, 2005

My favorite is a cheap Radio Shack model with dim red LEDs and a very loud beeper. For this application, it's all about function.
posted by mischief at 10:39 AM on February 16, 2005

Shoepal, my wife has that RCA clock and hate it. I'm reading this thread looking for ideas to replace it. :)

Why do I hate it? When she hits snooze, it makes a very subtle buzzing noise for the next 9 minutes. It's enough to keep me awake.
posted by agropyron at 10:49 AM on February 16, 2005

sony dream machines come in many different configurations, and last forever. But I bet any one of these would be keen.
posted by crunchland at 10:55 AM on February 16, 2005

I don't know if you'd find it any less ugly, but I've been using a Phillips CD clock radio that I like quite a bit.

Two alarms, "gentle wake" (i.e. set start and end volume), play a specific track as an alarm, the ability to disable the alarm on weekends automatically, a manual tune dial (I like this better than digital... so I'm weird), adjustable brightness, intuitive sleep/snooze features, relatively good sound...

I ended up getting one for home and work. The one at work plays a track when it's time to go home. Makes me think of "Dr. Katz." The music means we're out of time...
posted by pzarquon at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2005

I like my Sony Dream Machine. I got this one to replace a similar model I had for about 10 years. (I replaced it because the CD player would make loud noises before coming on, otherwise it works fine.) I like this model because it has a nap alarm which you set it like a timer with the push of one button. That way you don't have to reset your alarm (or forget to) later.
posted by coolsara at 11:05 AM on February 16, 2005

I have the very same Phillips model that pzarquon linked to, and I don't like it. The sound quality is awful. I slept through it way too often, the sleep/snooze/reset buttons are counterintuitive to me in my groggy morning state, and it is hard to set. Different strokes, I guess.

What I'm currently waking up to is a Sony Dream Machine without a CD player. Because it's loud. My boyfriend, who wakes much more easily than I do, absolutely hates it, and I don't blame him.

To promote peace and happiness on the home front, we are eagerly awaiting delivery of an AskMe-endorsed ShakeAwake Vibrating Alarm Clock. Which doesn't answer your question very well, but maybe someday they'll make one with a CD option.
posted by Alylex at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2005

shoepal: I want the CD player (super loud buzzers just make me shut the stupid thing off real fast and go back to sleep) and other than that I'm not sure what other killer alarm clock features are out there.

My girlfriend has this RCA one which is okay but I can imagine a lot more stuff I'd like. The CD player itself is noisy when it starts (so you get 5-10 seconds of mechanical whining before any music kicks in), it would be nice to have a random function so it doesn't always start on one track of the CD.

I like the idea of one that gradually increases in volume, light might be cool too. Also I'd like it to not be ridiculously huge I guess. Playing MP3s would be cool so I could fit more music on a CD.
posted by frenetic at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2005

I have the Tozai Model 884 here at work. Picked up a couple years ago at Walgreens or CVS. CD/Radio/Alarm Clock. I have the Emerson Electronic version that is a vertical CD player with green display. Both work well IMO. I had one clock radio before that would some how gain time every day, where I would have to reset the time each night.
posted by brent at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2005

Interesting, Alylex. Though I can see the beef about the buttons. They're sure placed artistically, but they don't work the way you'd think they'd work. I guess I just changed my brain to work with it. As for the audio quality, I suppose it's a bit muffled, but since 90 percent of the time it's playing NPR, I actually like the "softer" sound.

I'm liking what I'm reading about these Dream Machines, too. I've always had an irrational fondness for Sony stuff.

Where's the ShakeAwake thread, though? I found this related thread. Sounds interesting.
posted by pzarquon at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2005

My girlfriend and i also use the philips that pzarquon uses. It works decent enough; i don't use the cd player or any of the other fancy features, but it works. I also use the gradual beep wakeup, which is nice.

My personal clock is a RCA which i also like (and it's much prettier than the other RCA mentioned by shoepal). it has the nap feature too, which i used quite a bit in college.
posted by escher at 11:38 AM on February 16, 2005

I had the same problem with the Philips ergonomics as Alylex. Also it doesn't have digital tuning and presets - and when in bed I like being able to switch between stations by pressing one button, without having to look at the machine, rather than scrolling a wheel and looking for a station. The Philips is now in the kitchen, where the clock works great for reminding me I'm late for work. I picked up some fancy RCA machine with a vertical CD player for $20 in an open-box sale, but the CD player makes too much of a racket and you can hear the CDs grinding around inside. I'm still searching for the perfect model ...
posted by carter at 11:57 AM on February 16, 2005

This RCA. The radio buttons are easy to work while half asleep. The CD buttons are trickier.
posted by carter at 12:03 PM on February 16, 2005

My fiancee and I use a sun alarm clock. We don't have the one referenced in the link; I'm just showing that to give you an idea. No noises (although it has it if you need it), but the "sun starts rising" 30 minutes before the alarm time, and the light always wakes us both up without really obnoxious BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP sounds or NPR telling us that the whole world is dying and everyone is diseased.

Makes for a much more comfortable morning.
posted by xmutex at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2005

We have a Sony Psyc CD alarm. It has a dual alarm. We're happy with it.

Every other CD alarm clock we've had (Philips, Memorex, and lesser-known brands) has quit working after a year or so. (Just the CD part.) From experience, I would suggest getting a clock in the $40-60 range from a brand you trust. Cheaper ones are tempting, but not if you have to replace them every year.
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:21 PM on February 16, 2005

I have a reading light hooked up to a timer that comes on about 30 minutes before I need to get up which tends to help me wake up (in concert with the BEEP BEEP of my horrid RCA). That Sun Alarm Clock might be a nice upgrade.

xmutex: A long time ago my girlfriend and I woke up to NPR every morning and it really did feel like the world was going to hell in a handbasket. A nice bookend to reading The Economist before bed.

Given that most people need alarm clocks, you'd think there would be a better selection and more features. Sigh.
posted by shoepal at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2005

pzarquon, the thread with the Shake Awake was just last week, but I'm on my way out the door so can't scour the archives right now. It was an Amazon link, if that helps. Shake Awake Vibrating Alarm Clock, US$23.95, the vendor some outfit called Life With Ease.

Here comes the UPS truck! I'll tell you my first morning impressions tomorrow.
posted by Alylex at 2:12 PM on February 16, 2005

I have a light clock like xmutex and it's fantastic. I have one with a radio set to the local classical music station, but it's amazing how often I'll wake up just before it goes off.
posted by quiet at 3:08 PM on February 16, 2005

I went to Fry's one day a long time ago and stood there while I played with the controls and listened to all of the alarms.

I ended up with a Sony Dream Machine (ICFCD820) that appears to have been discontinued. The things I liked were the clear (but not jarring alarm), the CD, dual alarms, and the controls to change the time or the alarms which go forward and backward plus the controls have two speeds, accelerating after you hold the button down for a bit.

In the end I never used the CD much as the little whirr as it spins up the disc and the first few notes of any song get irritating after a few days.

A second thought is, do what my parents do. They have a coffee maker with a timer in their bedroom. They wake up to the gurgle of the coffee and watch Letterman off of TiVo sipping coffee in bed.
posted by deanj at 4:58 PM on February 16, 2005

Do those sun clocks only work if you have a dark bedroom?
posted by smackfu at 7:31 PM on February 16, 2005

My wife and I have been very happy with the Now and Zen chime alarm clock. A little bell goes off in the morning. If you don't wake up - 3 1/2 minutes later it goes off again. The interval keeps shrinking until it strikes every four seconds at the 10 minute mark.
Quite a relaxing way to wake up really.
posted by dabradfo at 10:58 AM on February 17, 2005

Here's my user review of the Shake Awake, Morning I, just in case anyone comes back for a follow-up.

It is very small (nice!). It requires 1 AAA battery for the clock (included), and 2 AA batteries for the shaker (inexplicably not included). It can be set for either an audible alarm or the shaking alarm but not both. I played with it for quite a while last night, testing it, and was convinced it was properly set to go off at 5:25 this morning. You are supposed to put it inside your pillowcase or under your pillow, which can be a little uncomfortable if you move around a lot in your sleep or have thin pillows. In order for the snooze to go off every 8 minutes, you have to push a button within the first 1 minute. If it takes you 1 minute and 1 second to fish it out of the pillows, you better get up now, because it is finished for the day. This seems ludicrous to me, especially since being able to snooze at all is a separate setting. It doesn't really tell you whether the minute is past or not (at 5:26AM I am not capable of sophisticated cognitive function like 25 + 1 = 26), so I can see hitting the snooze button believing it's going to give me another chance and then sleeping until my boss calls to say, "Are you coming in today?"

The audible beeping alarm is so faint that it will never, ever awaken me. Especially if it is buried under pillows.

5:25 came and went this morning without effect. Either it didn't go off, or I slept through it, or I pushed the snooze button too late and don't remember doing it at all. (This is possible, as I'm a really heavy sleeper.) Until I get used to it, and maybe forever, it's going to be my "5 minute warning", with the obnoxious Sony Dream Machine being my fail-safe back-up. Apologies to my beloved bedmate.

But finally, at long last, and this is worth the $24 no matter what, I get the opportunity to say on Metafilter: This alarm clock... it vibrates!
posted by Alylex at 11:55 AM on February 17, 2005

New mp3 alarm clock from Philips.
posted by shoepal at 7:09 AM on February 28, 2005

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