Silent alarm
January 25, 2017 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I currently have a Xiaomi Miband, but it kind of sucks. The alarm function is inconsistent and the vibration is not strong enough to wake me up. I also hate that I have to pair it every night. I'm reluctant to spend money on a smartwatch but I really need something better. My mornings at the gym are suffering and that's my sanity. What are my options under $200? I don't give a hoot about fancy bells and whistles. I just want something to wake me up. If I *do* need to spend money, then my first priority is good sleep tracking. Any recommendations?
posted by onecircleaday to Technology (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're just looking for a vibrating alarm clock? Does it need to be wrist-based? There are lots of vibrating alarms that stay on your bed - you can put them under your pillow or similar (depending on the model) - lots in the $20-30 range.
posted by brainmouse at 2:25 PM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a FitBit Charge HR. I don't know whether the vibration would be strong enough to wake me up (I'm a sound sleeper, haven't tried it) but I have set alarms to remind me to do two daily tasks and they go off every time. My phone does not need to be paired (or even on) in order for me to get the alarm.

So if you just want a <$200 replacement for your fitness band that has more reliable alarm functionality, I think it is very likely to meet those needs.

On edit: my alarms are set for the same time every day -- if I needed to set a new alarm time before going to bed I would need to pair to set the band's alarm.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:44 PM on January 25, 2017

I find that a phone set to vibrate put under the pillow does a good job of waking me up without being noisy for the whole house.
posted by Candleman at 2:46 PM on January 25, 2017

I'm sorry, I should have been more specific.

It needs to be wrist-based because my partner is a really light sleeper. I was kicking around getting a FitBit, but reviews don't indicate how strong the vibration is (i.e. whether it can wake a heavy sleeper).
posted by onecircleaday at 2:48 PM on January 25, 2017

I have a fitbit charge 2 and the vibration is absolutely strong enough to wake me up in the morning. The one disadvantage is that you have to use the app to change the wake-up time.
posted by deadtrouble at 3:43 PM on January 25, 2017

I had/have a Withings Activite that has the vibration wake, and decent sleep tracking. Not sure if it vibrates enough to wake you up, but it did work for me. And it's only about 130 bucks.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:50 PM on January 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a Fitbit Alta. It wakes me up every morning and I love it. I'm not a terribly deep sleeper, but I have never slept through it, even when I was conked out cold. Edited to add: The sleep tracking on it isn't bad, either.
posted by pazazygeek at 4:12 PM on January 25, 2017

I have a Fitbit Flex 2 that I use as my alarm. I think it's strong enough to wake a fairly sound sleeper. The vibration pattern seems effective, too. Sleep tracking is ok, not great. My main complaint is battery life - it needs to be charged twice a week.
posted by Kriesa at 5:11 PM on January 25, 2017

I would recommend looking at Garmin's offerings in this area. Rather than singing the praises, I'll just link to the Sweethome reviews.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:33 PM on January 25, 2017

I've had a Jawbone Up24, Up2 and Up3. (Lost the first, the second broke.) They'll let you set an alarm (the bracelet vibrating), specific to the day of the week. The first two at least are much cheaper than the Fitbit options but it depends on what features you're looking for: Charge cycle is decent to great but there's no embedded watch.
posted by outlier at 1:52 AM on January 26, 2017

Get an older pebble. Now that they're discontinued / bought by fitbit who's abandoning them, the used market should have some cheap ones, and maybe some new ones on sale for clearance. The vibration was plenty powerful, and the built in alarm function had nice things like a custom snooze length setting (2 minutes is just long enough to be annoying to get one up, but not long enough to fall back asleep and get groggy).

When I later switched to a Garmin from my pebble the hardest thing was getting my body sensitized to the significantly lower vibration level. I love my garmin for the running features but one of my top feature wishes for it would be a configurable setting for vibration intensity so I could crank it up. If you're just looking for vibration/alarms/alerts, the pebble is probably the best you'll find, and it's well under your budget.

However be aware that a lot of things in the pebble world depend in part upon pebble servers - fitbit has said that they're looking to update the pebble so it will still be able to function when they inevitably take down their servers.
posted by nobeagle at 6:58 AM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yep, I have a Pebble Time Steel and I'm a *very* heavy sleeper, and the vibration wakes me up reliably.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:30 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone! I went with the Pebble Time Smartwatch, got a new one half off online for $70. I was going to go with the classic which was only $40, but it doesn't support specified alarm times on different days. I know the Pebble is nearing the end of the line, but from what I'm reading, some functions are not server-dependent. The alarm is about as basic as it gets, so maybe it isn't.
posted by onecircleaday at 11:33 AM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Posting for anyone interested (including the above posters who have a Pebble). There's an open source app called Gadget Bridge on GitHub: "A free and cloudless replacement for your gadget vendors' closed source Android applications. Supports Pebble, Mi Band, Liveview, HPlus and more."

Thanks all, for the suggestions!
posted by onecircleaday at 12:06 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this thread! I've got a Pebble heading my way soon, and will report back on it, too.
posted by hardlikealgebra at 5:08 PM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

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