I just need an alarm clock! How hard can it be?
April 4, 2016 11:26 AM   Subscribe

So our trusty Timex T715 clock radio is succumbing to dementia. It's powering up LED segments inappropriately, spontaneously resetting itself to 12:00, failing to go off when it's supposed to. Basically, it's time for it to go to a farm run by a nice elderly couple who have lots of other clocks for it to play with. No worries, I figured. Just go online and buy another one. Heh. Right. Can you help, hive mind?

So it turns out the T715 has been discontinued and is gone. No worries, I figured. Just go on online and buy a different one with all the features you want. Well, no. I've been digging through the web for days and can't find anything that meets our not terribly complicated needs.

Here's what I want in an alarm clock radio. (A really simple home appliance being churned out by the millions in factories all over China. Seriously, how hard is this?)

1) A radio. I'd be perfectly happy with one that just beeps, but my wife wants a radio.
2) Dual alarms. That's important.
3) A weekday weekend feature - That's also important. It basically means you can set the alarm for weekdays only so it doesn't wake you up on Saturday because you forgot to turn it off, or let you sleep in on Monday because you forgot to reset it again on Sunday night.

Things we want but could compromise on I suppose.

4) A simple wall plug. Everything has built in USB charging ports now. Which sounds fine, except it means you have an adapter brick that sits on the power plug, and that's going to be pretty inconvenient in our bedroom.

5) An LED display. I've nothing against LCDs personally, but they have to be backlit to be visible - we want to be able to see what time it is if we wake up in the night - and I keep reading reviews saying the backlights are too bright. Again, this will be an issue for my light sleeping wife.

6) No Bluetooth. I don't need or want it, it adds a lot to the price, and I can just see it screwing up my phone or wreaking havoc when we really have no interest in what is really just a Bluetooth speaker with an alarm clock feature bolted on.

7) Smaller than a toaster. We don't have a lot of room to fit this into.

See? We really don't need anything fancy like a projector that sprays the time on the ceiling (and would keep my wife awake) or a temperature sensor you run out a window somewhere, or a big vibrator plate that shakes the bed awake. It's simple. Really. I mean how hard is an alarm clock? There's probably a set of teaspoons out there that have a clock built in because it's trivial! Why can't I find anything we like?

Damn you, invisible hand of the market!
posted by Naberius to Technology (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I hear your pain. It is hard to find a decent clock radio alarm clock now. Especially ones that have a red display instead the light-the-whole-room-up blue.

That said, Timex T715 Ebay, new in box:

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Timex-T715B-Alarm-Clock-Radio-For-Smartphones-Brand-New-In-Box-/272187887899?hash=item3f5fa9911b:g:78kAAOSwdU1W9nwr
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:44 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Timex T236B ($26.88 at Amazon) meets all of your "must have" requirements and all but one of your "would be nice" requirements (it has a power adapter). You could use a very short power cord (e.g. $5 for a 1' power cord) to eliminate any space constraints regarding the power adapter.
posted by RichardP at 11:55 AM on April 4, 2016


Yep, it's dark times for alarm clocks at the moment. The only Sony with a weekend feature (as far as I can tell) is the ICF-C1PJ, and that's LCD.

The Timex T236B ($26.88 at Amazon) meets all of your "must have" requirements

I think it's missing #3, Weekend mode. Manual.
posted by zamboni at 12:02 PM on April 4, 2016


And be sure there is an AM radio component if that is important to you.
Many are FM only.
posted by calgirl at 12:05 PM on April 4, 2016


Good catch, zamboni, I was just going to add another comment noting my mistake. The Amazon description says "set one alarm for weekdays and the other for weekends", but as you note, the manual makes it clear that this is not a true "weekend" mode feature.
posted by RichardP at 12:06 PM on April 4, 2016


This might help: http://alarm-clocks-review.toptenreviews.com/
posted by clone boulevard at 12:07 PM on April 4, 2016


OK. It looks like the Emerson CKS1708 ($20 at Amazon) meets all of your "must have" requirements and all but one of your "would be nice" requirements (it has a power adapter). As I mentioned above, you could use a very short power cord to eliminate any space constraints regarding the power adapter.

It has an AM/FM radio, dual alarms with everyday/weekday/weekend mode, an LED display (albeit blue, not red), no bluetooth, and is 6.5" x 3.5" x 3". Manual is here.
posted by RichardP at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2016


As sketchy as those toptenreviews type sites usually are, it's right in that the Emerson Dual Alarm CKS9031 might fulfill all of your requirements. Shame about the blue display.
posted by zamboni at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2016


Zamboni, unfortunately the Emerson CKS9031 has been discontinued.
posted by RichardP at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2016


I realize that we are all 21st century in here, but might I suggest going to a brick-and-mortar store for this? These things can be difficult to evaluate online, or at least it's inefficient. My local Frys had a good selection the last time I needed one, when my old GE clock died after 20+ years of service.

Also, besides knowing exactly what you are getting, there's the immediate gratification of having it in hand right away.
posted by intermod at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


The SoundFreaq Sound Rise radio meets almost all your requirements: small footprint, dimming LED, 2 alarms, weekday/weekend settings. But is does support Bluetooth, has a wall brick, and only FM.
I find the USB outlet in the back very useful to charge my phone overnight.
posted by TDIpod at 12:25 PM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


This one for $25? (Wally World)

Electrohome 1.8" Jumbo LED Alarm Clock Radio with Battery Backup, Auto Time Set, Digital AM/FM Tuner & Dual Alarm

"This Clock Radio comes complete with a collection of helpful features including: calendar, programmable daily dual alarm with weekend cancellation that can be tailored to fit your weekly routine, the option to wake to buzzer or radio, and convenient Sleep/Snooze timers"
posted by slipthought at 12:26 PM on April 4, 2016


Since the radio is somewhat important to you, be sure you're getting one with a decent quality radio. I find that many of the clock radios in hotels have such low quality radios in them that they aren't worth using at all.
posted by jkent at 12:39 PM on April 4, 2016


I sense a business opportunity to open an online store selling simple, classic products that just work like they have for the last 50 years. However, I also suspect finding said products to sell would be a huge challenge.

I've a simple AM/FM alarm clock with battery back up that came from Target - so you might check there.
posted by COD at 12:39 PM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Zamboni, unfortunately the Emerson CKS9031 has been discontinued.

Good point.

It has an AM/FM radio, dual alarms with everyday/weekday/weekend mode, an LED display (albeit blue, not red), no bluetooth, and is 6.5" x 3.5" x 3". Manual is here.

Amazon reviewers point out (and disapprove of) an interesting feature of the 1708. Note: To avoid missing your wake up time, even if you set the radio to a very low volume or even silent (Level 0-9) before turning off the radio, medium radio volume (Level 10) will gradually increase at wake up time. If you need a louder volume for your wake up time, set the radio at higher volume (Level 10-16) before turning it off, that will gradually increase the radio volume to the same preset level when wake up time comes.

Electrohome 1.8" Jumbo LED Alarm Clock Radio with Battery Backup, Auto Time Set, Digital AM/FM Tuner & Dual Alarm

Might be on to a winner here, folks: Electrohome EAAC302

1) A radio. ✅ AM/FM, 20 presets (10 of each).
2) Dual alarms. ✅
3) A weekday weekend feature ✅ ALARM MODES allows you to set more than one alarm in a week i.e. ALARM 1 set to wake you Monday-Friday and ALARM 2 set to wake you on weekends. The ALARM MODE settings are as follows: Monday to Friday 6-7 : Saturday & Sunday 1-7 : Whole week 1-1 : One day of week
4) A simple wall plug. ✅ AC120V 60Hz, 5W
6) No Bluetooth. ✅
7) Smaller than a toaster. ✅ 8.5 x 3 x 4 inches, so as long as your toaster is 9 in wide…
posted by zamboni at 12:42 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


As an alternative to radio, I just bought one that allows the insertion of a SD card loaded with music (which to my mind, is better, as I won't wake up to a commercial or obnoxious DJ voice). It doesn't hit your other needs so I won't link, but it might be an alternate keyword to search for.
posted by timepiece at 12:54 PM on April 4, 2016


I don't know if/where it's available in the US, but I've just bought the Siesta Mi Series 2 which I think fulfils most of your requirements. I'm honestly not sure if its LED or LCD, but the display dims at night (but remains visible).
It definitely has a weekday/weekend feature, simple wall plug, no bluetooth, and is less than 6" square.
posted by penguin pie at 1:01 PM on April 4, 2016


My vote goes to the Electrohome EAAC601, because being able to check the time just by cracking an eyelid and glancing at the ceiling is 9000x better than looking on the bedside table. Seems to meet all the other requirements
posted by ElGuapo at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2016


I got a Soundfreaq (referenced above) and loved it so much I got one for each of my kids., too.

The wall brick may not work for you but charging my phone through the USB is awesome. Also the brightness of the numbers is super easy to change, including to complete blackness.
posted by Sublimity at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2016


Thanks everyone! I decided to go with the Sound Rise. It should arrive today. I figured the power brick was an acceptable compromise - especially since RichardP noted the ability to move it off the wall with a short extension cord. Good idea, RichardP. Gold Star for you!

Most of the other ones people suggested I'd already come across and waffled on for one reason or another. The projection feature is right out for my wife - she makes me put a washcloth over the display on the TV set top box across the room at night. Pretty much any artificial light at all and she just cannot sleep. That's the main reason for not going with a backlit LCD model like the Sony ICF-C707, which otherwise looked pretty ideal. But the Sound Rise apparently has like five levels of brightness adjust. If that doesn't work for her, I don't know what to do.

I had pretty quickly found the Electrohome EAAC302 that Zamboni recommended and realized it did have everything I wanted. It's just so freaking huge! That model was indeed the reason for the "smaller than a toaster" request. Also I was just annoyed that their marketing video for it refers to the front of the thing as a "6.5 inch flat screen." As if there's a freaking iPhone retina display in there instead of a piece of plastic covering a dozen or so 2 inch LEDs. That just galled me. What else might they bullshitting me about?

I did like that Siesta Me Series 2 that penguin pie recommended - though I couldn't figure out if had the weekday feature or not. But we're in the U.S. and Pure's U.S. site makes no mention of alarm clocks at all, so I guess it's not available over here. From the case, it looks a lot like a rebadged Philips unit - and that should tell you how deep into this particular rabbit hole I've dived over the last few days. I've generally had really good results from various Philips products over the years, but they've always been kind of hit or miss about selling stuff here in the states.

So anyway, the Sound Rise it is. Downsides besides the power block: it does have Bluetooth, and both because of that and in general, it costs a lot more than I was originally planning to spend. But I guess most problems go away pretty quickly if you throw enough money at them. Hopefully it will last a long time. And hopefully this will settle the issue. Really appreciate everyone's help!
posted by Naberius at 7:12 AM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


My trick for the brightness issue is a dark colored post-it on the display. I have a cable box in my bedroom that supposedly has a "dim" setting but it's still WAY too bright for me. So a blue post-it makes it nice and dark but still readable. Not a gorgeous solution, but it beats a washcloth.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2016


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