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Alarm Clocks

Monday, 27 October 2008

An irritating way to start the day, an alarm clock is an unfortunate necessity for most people. We test some clocks to see if any can wake us up without leaving us cranky.

 

   BUYING TIPS

 The Basics

  • Snooze: Someclocks allow you to predetermine the snooze button interval. But remember, our expert says hitting snooze 4 times won't give you as restful aforty-minute sleep as just setting your alarm for 40 minutes later.

  • Display: Analog, LCD or LED is up to personal preference. If you like tosleep in complete darkness, look for a dimmable display, or go for a good old analog clock.

  • Sound: Manyclocks now let you choose to wake up to either a beep or music. CD or MP3player alarm clocks let you choose the music you wake up to. Every little bithelps!

Other Considerations

  • Batteryback-up: In case there's a power outage, a battery back up will kick intogear to assure you won't be late for work. Just remember to test the batteriesperiodically.

  • Multiple timesettings: a dual-alarm setting allows you to program one wake up time forweekdays and a different one for weekends.

   TEST CRITERIA

We recruited some helpers to test each of these five alarm clocksfor a couple of weeks:

  • Sony radio/alarm: $15
  • RCA radio/CD/alarm: $50
  • Wake & Shake buzz/shake/strobe alarm: $99
  • Sunrise light/buzz alarm: $99
  • Clocky alarm clock on wheels: $56

Our tests and results include:

Wake Technique Test

  • Clockywas terrifying to wake up to with its excessively loud alarm and noisymovement

  • Sunrise's soft light brightened over time, but with no sound, it was too easy to pull upthe covers and go back to sleep.

Features Test

  • Wake& Shake's display was too bright, making it hard to get to sleep in thefirst place

  • TheSony's lack of features made it simple to use.

  • The RCA's CD capability and multiple alarmsettings made it stand out.

   OUR TOP PICK

In this group of products we were able to pick out the ones to avoid pretty easily, but for our top pick, we chose the RCA Radio/CD/Alarm for its multiple features, including a programmable CD (which lets you choose a song to wake up to) and dual alarm settings. It was also the most aesthetically pleasing.

 

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