Completely "Dark" Alarm Clock (Revisited)?
June 20, 2012 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Completely "dark" / humane alarm clock (revisited)?

There was a question like this a while back, but all the recommended products are not longer available.

I'd like a decent looking alarm clock that is completely dark at night. The other must-have feature I'm looking for is a "humane" waking sound (e.g., something that increases in volume, so it's not jarring). I guess an ideal product would be an analog alarm that somehow managed to distinguish between AM and PM and operated totally silently.

Other nice to have features (for a digital unit):

- nap timer
- able to quickly and easily see alarm time

Can anyone recommend something?
posted by Jon44 to Shopping (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If Stephen Fry isn't a "humane waking sound," I don't know what anyone could possibly offer you.

I'm not sure it does silent running, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:46 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you have a smartphone, you could use that. I'm sure there's something similar for Droid phones, but I use the "Alarmed" app on my iPhone, which meets all criteria except the humane sound. A quick search shows up a "Progressive Alarm Clock" app, which sounds like it would fit all your needs.

It would also run on an iPod Touch, and you could pick up an older generation on eBay or craigslist for a decent price, probably no more than a nice alarm clock.
posted by Kriesa at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Kriesa: Quick question on people using smartphones as alarms. I'm assuming you need to have the volume up, so how do you prevent getting woken up in the middle of the night by some notification that comes through (e.g., email, calendar all-day event, etc.)???
posted by Jon44 at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2012

I have an iPhone dock-type alarm clock that has speakers in it that connect to the iPhone. I just set the alarm, turn up the speakers, and start music. The dock also goes completely dark when I hit the snooze button three times (bright, dim, off).
posted by xingcat at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2012

Most phones either default to, or allow you to select, a setting where phone calls, calendar alerts and text messages do not cause an audio alert, but alarms still go off.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

My phone used to have an "alarm only" setting
posted by Quincy at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

My iPhone still does normal volume alarms when set to silent or vibrate. In fact, if I forget to turn it to vibrate and leave it with the ringer turned down it won't wake me up.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have an iPod touch and my understanding, with the latest iOS, I'd have to go in manually to turn off notifications for apps I don't want going off in the night (which seem like too much of a pain). I guess the other option is to put into "Airplane" mode, but again, that seems like a hassle, since I use it all day long and it's just one more thing to do at night.

Is that what people who use iPhones as alarms "go through"? (the horror....)
posted by Jon44 at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2012

I turned off sound notifications for emails (I find that obnoxious anyway), and I make sure to set any calendar events or reminders to notify me during the day.

So far, in six months, the only time I've been awakened in the middle of the night by my phone was when someone sent me a wrong-number text.

I don't know; it just hasn't been a problem for me. I guess it would be if I had friends who texted or called in the middle of the night. If that were the case, I think I'd use the Icon Project app to create an on-screen button to switch to Airplane Mode without going into settings every night. I don't know why the iPhone doesn't have a "quiet time" function.
posted by Kriesa at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2012

Maybe it was This question that I asked. . .I ended up with the LL Bean and have been very happy with it.

The only downside is that, once you activate the light to see the time in the middle of the night, it stays on too long (8 seconds) before going dim.
posted by Danf at 1:17 PM on June 20, 2012

Is that what people who use iPhones as alarms "go through"? (the horror....)

I just leave my iPhone on "vibrate" overnight (the occasional vibrating text message isn't enough to wake me), but alarms - and nothing else - still get to make noise at me.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Danf: I actually didn't see your post--I should have added that I want something to plug in! (I actually have a bird sound portable alarm clock which functionally does what I want, but it's a pain to set and difficult to see what time the alarm is set for, etc.)
posted by Jon44 at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2012

I use my iPhone, the built in alarm app that comes bundled with the phone. It's not "humane" in the sense of increasing volume, but I chose one of the less blaring tones (Marimba, I think?) and it's not jarring at all.

Nthing silencing the phone. The alarm will still work. I don't set mine to silent, which is fine for me as I have most push notifications blocked and don't get many calls or texts during the night. Occasionally in the morning I will be awoken by a text message, but that's down to it being closer to my usual wake time, the room being full of light, being in a less deep sleep, etc. not so much the text itself.

I don't find that I have to turn the alarm volume up unusually high in order to hear it, but YMMV on that of course.

I don't know what a nap timer is, so I can't opine on that.

There are a few alarm clock apps out there that do the "humane" sounds gradually increasing in volume thing. I found that the cute birds chirping and bells ringing sounds did not wake me up. YMMV, of course.
posted by Sara C. at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: Re: iPhone issues. iTouch appears to be different in that there's no silent mode. iOS 6 evidentally will have some sort of "quiet time" function. And lastly, thing with calendar is that I frequently use "all-day" events which notify you at midnight (I already get woken up by those just keeping my iPad in the living room).
posted by Jon44 at 1:27 PM on June 20, 2012

I use an iPad app called 'Alarmed', that might be available for whatever your smartphone is. I have to set it each night, but it does the increasing volume thing, without me having to leave the volume set to any particular setting.

If I don't set it, the alarm still goes off, but instead of a gradually increasing wake-up to one of the songs on my favorite songs playlist, I get a regular ol' alarm, turned fairly loud.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2012

In a pinch, you could probably pick up a cheap used phone for about the price of a new clock, and use it as a dedicated alarm clock without actually paying for service for it...
posted by kickingtheground at 1:53 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had the same requirements and have found the Chumby One. I can make it very very dim totally dark, have it use internet radio, built in mp3s or local network stuff.

It also does mildy amusing app stuff but it is super useful as an auto setting/syncing alarm clock with tons of customization.

I don't know what the availability of them is these days. I got mine from woot a year ago.
posted by bensherman at 2:15 PM on June 20, 2012

I have a basic Oregon Scientific projection alarm. Aside from the projector (which you can switch off), the display is entirely dark. The alarm is a beep, but it's one that starts off with single beeps a couple of seconds apart, then gradually escalates to a more urgent sound. It also has a snooze button. I don't find it disturbing at all.
posted by pipeski at 3:33 PM on June 20, 2012

Chumby recently closed up shop, unfortunately. However, the chumbies themselves can live on to a degree. Follow that thread for how to maintain it-- I know that some things keep working while others don't-- it has to do with what it can pull directly over the internets, and what it needs from Chumby's servers.

I too have Chumby One, also from woot. It has a dark mode which I like, but it also has a pitch-black mode. I love that the alarms are customizable down to the day of the week; I'd hate to have my weekday schedule on my weekends. Best alarm clock I've ever paid money for.

Chumby uses your wireless internet connection, and has a USB slot for firmware upgrades and, I presume, mp3 storage. Also, re: music, it can do FM radio, though the menu system could be better for taht.

But my suggestion for humane alarm, since Android is getting short shrift here, is "Gentle Alarm" for Android. Free app, and has lots of options to get you going in the morning, from gentle wakeup to a swift audio ass-kick. It also makes me do math in the mornings in order to dismiss the alarm, which, between my aging, degrading math skills, and my general insensibility at that hour, make for some trialsome alarm shutdowns that I don't regret, since I can disable most alarms in my sleep--- the ones I can't sleep through, that is.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:33 PM on June 20, 2012

Chumby advice also applies to the related Sony Dash, which satisfies all of your requirements and is how I use it.
posted by zippy at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2012

How about a zen alarm clock? They also offer digital ones and they seem to meet all of your requirements.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: Re: Zen Alarm Clock

If these worked as described, they'd be perfect. But I had one of the earlier models and instead of being woken up by the gong, I'd always wake up to the grinding sound of the hammer right before it's about to strike. (And I wasn't happy with the way the company dealt with the issue...)
posted by Jon44 at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2012

I've been really happy just using my phone set to vibrate. I sometimes sleep through it a little, but never terribly (or terribly more than I did on occasion when I had an annoying radio or buzzer). It's super-gentle. :-)
(My phone uses one of the volume buttons on the side for snooze. It's not a smartie.)
posted by spbmp at 7:50 PM on June 20, 2012

I have this alarm clock:

Downside is no, it's not completely dark, but it is not bright enough to keep me awake. Sorry.

It does have a progressive wake-up noise (and sleep noise if you want) as well as a progressive lighting, which I've found is what helps the most - I start waking up even before the noise, as the lights start to go up.

A press of one button allows viewing of the set alarm.

You plug it in, but you adding batteries allows it to save the time - I've had one of these clocks for about five years, it's been with me for six moves, and I've only had to change the time to account for DST's

But again, it's not EXACTLY what you're looking for, because it's not dead black at night. :-/
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 8:49 PM on June 20, 2012

(totally just noticed it was not available. Sorry!)
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 8:50 PM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: Lt. Wigglesworth: Did you like the idea of waking to light enough that you've considered one of the other "light up" clocks? (This one seems popular.)

I.e., did it feel more natural and less jarring to you?
posted by Jon44 at 5:55 AM on June 21, 2012

I have one these:

It starts quiet and gets louder. The backlight can be configured to stay off until you mess with the buttons or dials. Hitting the snooze button shows the time of the next alarm. It also has a nap function. The downside is that it is kind of conplicated to configure.
posted by thedward at 7:19 AM on June 21, 2012

Maybe I like my room really dark, but even at it's darkest the iPhone screen is way too bright for sleeping, IMO. I use Alarm Clock Pro, which works great, but I just keep the screen on sleep.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 9:54 AM on June 21, 2012

Why don't you turn the iPhone screen off then?
posted by elsietheeel at 6:25 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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