Help me find an alarm clock!
April 16, 2020 11:59 AM   Subscribe

My ancient Timex alarm clock died in November. The Sony I bought to replace it just crapped out. I would like some suggestions for finding a working replacement that doesn't utterly suck.

I had an ancient Timex dual-alarm system that I had used for perhaps 20 years. (Really!) It completely stopped working last fall, so after searching for a while I settled on a cube-shaped Sony model. I liked it BUT it never recognized that it had a battery installed, it has an incredibly finicky (and TINY) analog dial to set the radio, and just in the past week and a half has completely stopped playing music when the alarm goes off. It plays barely-audible white noise instead. Every once in a while it will play the radio, but if I hit snooze it goes right back to the white noise. Radio function works fine if I turn the radio on, but it won't use it for an actual alarm. If quiet static was enough to wake me up, I would not need an alarm clock.

I keep looking for a replacement but cannot seem to find anything that isn't either designed for grandparents (read: GIANT BLAZINGLY BRIGHT clock), looks like a Fisher-Price toy, or is discontinued/out of stock. I don't need a nightlight, I definitely don't need green or blue light in my face at night preventing sleep and triggering circadian effects. I want a radio alarm, because I like to listen to my local station in the morning. I prefer dual alarms so I don't need to reset the alarm on weekends when I want to sleep in a little.

My minimum replacement: not too bright, FM tuner, dual alarm, not hideously ugly or cartoonish. The Sony unit met all requirements but I am incredibly reluctant to replace a unit that died so quickly with the same model.

My ideal replacement would also have a DIGITAL tuner instead of analog, and adjustable brightness.

I do not want or need any way of connecting the clock to my phone. I put my phone in another room at night on purpose because I do not need or want it anywhere near where I sleep. I use the phone alarm for travel, not at home. Taking a break from devices at night is a good thing.

I also do not want or need any way for the thing to connect to the internet. Terrestrial radio, I pay a monthly donation to my local NPR station because that's what I want to hear. If it comes in over the air for free I don't need to add streaming in the mix for no reason.
posted by caution live frogs to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why not buy one of those used Timex boxes on Amazon? Lean into it.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2020

Response by poster: They stopped making them a long time ago. Given the issues I had with my original by the end, I hesitate to put myself back into needing a replacement again in a month or two just out of brand loyalty.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:39 PM on April 16, 2020

I bought a sound rise clock radio from soundfreaq based on recommendations here a couple of years ago. It has more than you want but nothing annoying and I’m really satisfied with mine.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2020

If I were in your position, I'd look at getting a slightly used Timex from eBay. Many of them are dual alarm and have clock radios.

My reason is this: I have a tiny battery-operated Timex alarm clock (not dual, no radio) that is also at least 20 years old. I thought I broke it recently (I smashed my head into it accidentally - don't ask!). Anyway, the display died, and I thought it was a goner. But after about 3 days, it resurrected itself and now works just as fine as before. They truly do 'take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. (I was looking at eBay for other versions because I have also become accustomed to my model's exact alarm - not too loud, not obnoxious.)
posted by hydra77 at 2:07 PM on April 16, 2020

I bought this Sangean clock-radio about five years ago. It checks most of your feature boxes: dual alarms (can be programmed by days of the week, so you can have one alarm on weekdays and another on weekends), digital tuner, and adjustable brightness. For the most part, I've been happy with it.

The one caveat is that the buttons on this alarm clock have gotten finicky over the past few months (failing to register reliably when pressed), which makes it a bit of a hassle to reprogram. I'm not sure if dust has accumulated, there's some kind of membrane switch that has deteriorated, or something else.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:11 PM on April 16, 2020

I used this one for about 20 years, until a couple years ago when I needed to not have the news wake me up any more.

I can't recommend it highly enough, and it ticks all your boxes - dual alarms, digital tuner, etc. It's not exactly "adjustable" brightness, but it automatically dims at night or in low light, and it's not super bright to start with. It never gave me a moment's problem, ever.

It is blue, but that picture makes it seem a whole lot brighter than it is in real life. I really loved this clock and think it'd be perfect for you based on your description.
posted by pdb at 2:54 PM on April 16, 2020

I have this clock, which I think ticks all your boxes. The display is a little brighter than I prefer, but I bought dimming film to put over it and it works perfectly.
posted by Fuego at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I got this one three years ago and it's still going strong. The display is red which doesn't bother me when I close my eyes, unlike one I had with a blue display. The numbers are big enough that I can read them without glasses if I wake up in the middle of the night. I just measured and they're an inch and 3/8. The sound on the radio is tinny but I didn't expect much for the price. But the price seems to have up, pretty sure I paid less than 20.
posted by mareli at 4:26 PM on April 16, 2020

I got one of these used a couple years ago. 1 alarm, but dimmable and digital tuning. I keep it in the kitchen with the alarm set for morning news. The USB ports and Bluetooth are occasionally handy.
posted by theora55 at 4:53 PM on April 16, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. While I didn’t end up picking one of the ones you suggested, the linked related products in the bottom did suggest for me a model that might work out great - and like the original one I used to have it’s a Timex. Why this wouldn’t show up when I was specifically searching for a clock beats the heck out of me. Sometimes Amazon gives me exactly what I’m looking for, and other times it seems to forget entire classes of product exist.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:31 AM on April 20, 2020

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