Clock Radio Conundrum
December 4, 2010 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Does a good reliable clock radio exist?

I've had bad luck with clock radios. The one I currently use has served me well for a couple of years, so perhaps I'm being unfair, but it bothers me that invariably, any digital clock radio I use will end up with the same problem - the on/off switch for the alarm will get touchy, and decide to turn itself off at some point during the night!

When I give the button a tap, the alarm goes from off to on again, even though the switch is clearly set to "on".

Also, I'd like a clock radio that stays on after a power outage. In my experience, the "battery back-up" advertised for most alarms simply keeps the time adjusted reasonably well once the power comes back on, but while the power is out, the clock is essentially dead.

Does an alarm exists which has true battery backup (ie. it stays lit when the power goes out?) and can you offer suggestions of reliable brands that maybe have been better than you expect?
posted by newfers to Shopping (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mine would fit your bill nicely. Its a cheap Radio Shack clock radio (model 12-1630) that has served me through 4 years of high school then 4 years of collage, but sadly it appears they no longer carry this particular model. I know on mine when the power is out it wont display the time, but the alarm will still go off when it is supposed to. So at least that feature does exist on some alarm clocks.
posted by token-ring at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2010

I used the same alarm clock for over 20 years: a Sanyo RM 5008. Despite all of the abuse it has taken over the years, it still works perfectly. But I don't use its alarm anymore. My grandmother gave it to me for Christmas, and it came in an unexciting brown box. They were only manufactured for a few years in the mid-1980s, I believe.

I recently saw an unused one for sale on eBay, and I almost bought it as a replacement. This alarm clock does not run on just battery power; the battery simply preserves the time setting for when power is restored. Anyway, it's from an era when things were made to last forever.
posted by germdisco at 2:22 PM on December 4, 2010

Try the Sony Dream Machine. I've had mine for over 20 years and it still works well. The battery back-up is the kind you don't like, but the newer model Mr Corpse has (I believe it's this one) it keeps very good time when the power goes out.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:22 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

(My new clock radio is a Sony ICF-C318 dream machine.)
posted by germdisco at 2:25 PM on December 4, 2010

I have met - but never owned - clock radios that were reliable. For me, the trick with these successful clocks has been to find one that has an "alarm every day at the same time" feature, and to always, always, always leave that alarm on. These clocks will often have a second alarm that I'll mess around with.

I've never owned one of my own, though. I use a hand-me-down cell phone as an alarm clock, and it does the same thing I described above, but with a BEEP BEEP BEEP instead of a radio.
posted by aniola at 2:38 PM on December 4, 2010

I have the Neverlate 7 Day clock. I can't speak to battery backup, because I haven't had the power go out (what's up with that?). But it looks like it has it.

I've never had any trouble with the off switch, which is a different shape and location than the snooze. Also the off on for actually setting the alarm is a dial, so there's no way for it to mysteriously turn off, unless you forget to set it.
posted by loriginedumonde at 2:38 PM on December 4, 2010

This thing I read the other day on Lifehacker suggested using an old cellphone.

Me, I just use a Timex I got at a thrift store. When I'm traveling, I use my phone (and, if it's stormy or if it's imperative I wake on time, I use it at home as a backup). Maybe I've had good luck.
posted by box at 2:39 PM on December 4, 2010

I prefer this Sony that germdisco mentioned. It is less expensive, much easier to see the time, has an on off switch that you rotate rather than push in and seems to have all the other features of the one linked to by The corpse in the Library - dual alarm, back up battery, automatic time set.
posted by zoel at 3:15 PM on December 4, 2010

I've had a Sony Dream Machine (ICF-C160) for about 20-22 years now. Never had a problem with it. Its been all over Canada and the US with me. I'm not sure if the newer ones work as well as my old one, but I'd buy another if I needed to.
posted by herox at 5:07 PM on December 4, 2010

Somehow I lucked into a Bose clock radio some ten or 15 years ago. It's still going strong. I don't beat on my alarm clock, but other than the cd player getting wonky, probably from the baby filling it with sand one day, it still works as good as new. So shout out for Bose Wave Radio/CD products. Don't know if they offer one with a battery backup, but I'd be really suprised if they didn't.
posted by Ys at 6:22 PM on December 4, 2010

Germdisco, I've been looking at the Sony ICF-C318 dream machine and some of the online reviews say that the alarm is at too low of a volume - what's your experience?
posted by newfers at 10:34 PM on December 4, 2010

newfers: I use the radio setting, not the buzzer. I don't recall how loud the buzzer is. The radio wakes me up, and I wear earplugs while sleeping.
posted by germdisco at 10:36 PM on December 4, 2010

Germdisco : I also wear earplugs, so I'm encouraged by your response - think I'll go ahead and get the Sony!
posted by newfers at 11:01 PM on December 4, 2010

I'm with @Ys - my Bose clock radio - an older version than the one currently sold - has served me well for many years. And mine does indeed have a battery backup.
posted by jeri at 9:01 AM on December 5, 2010

I have a Sangean RCR-22 and it is by far the best clock radio I've ever had. Digital tuning so it never loses the station, automatically sets itself using WWV, and sounds great.
posted by leapfrog at 11:42 AM on December 6, 2010

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