September 11, 2017

Yes, The Perfect Alarm Clock

Follows on from here

I didn’t think that I’d be writing this so soon.

On Saturday morning, I put the disappointing new alarm clock in the post to send it back to the vendor. Looks like they’re not going to pay for return postage, so I’m down £3.90. But I’m not salty, because things are about to turn out just fine (edit: look at that, they have refunded me after all!)

Saturday night was date night – my dad was down for the weekend, and Karen and I wanted to check out a new-ish restaurant that has been receiving glowing reviews. I’d mentioned that maybe the key to finding the right alarm clock was to go somewhere where I could actually check them out “in the plastic”, so to speak, so Karen suggested that we go out a little early and drop into John Lewis before it closed.

The range on display was very promising, and so we set to work assessing the options for suitability. I initially took a somewhat scattergun approach, and then decided on a different tack, which was: start with the one that looks sexiest, and see if it has all the features I need.

Unfortunately it can be difficult to find out exactly what features each model has. The little price tag next to each demonstration model supposedly lists 4 or 5 features, but it tends to say something useless like:

  • Clock
  • Also radio
  • Black
  • Includes plug

Sometimes the box has a handy feature list on the outside, but in this case the design was clearly from the minimalist Apple school – ie “here’s a picture of the product, and we’re done.”

Before I know it, cheeky Karen has cheekily cracked open a box and is cheekily perusing the instruction manual.

“But my goodness, you’re a cheeky one,” I gasped.

I then spent a few minutes reading the manual, each turned page causing my smile to widen. I had a play with the demonstration model, using the age-old technique of setting an alarm for one minute in the future. “Yes, it’s definitely loud enough,” shouted Karen from four feet away from me.

A shop assistant sidled over and sat down casually nearby. I suddenly became very conscious of how I must appear, with a box cracked open, leafing through the manual like I was at a library.

“Can I help you sir?”

At this point, the poor guy was subjected to my entire life story to date. I basically recited my previous blog post on the subject. At the end of it, I realised that I’d taken up enough of his time, and the shop was going to be closing soon, so perhaps I should just get on with it and pay for this bloody thing.

So, you’re all itching to find out – what features does this little doozy have, and why is it so bloody perfect? Let’s start with the things that the last one got wrong.

  • A very nice display. The viewing angle is sufficient for it to be viewable from anywhere in the room, including when I’m lying down, and it offers a lot of control over brightness. I’ve set it to “MED” when in standby, which is bright enough to be legible at day or night without also feeling like it illuminates the room, and “HIGH” when the radio is turned on. It doesn’t have automatic brightness, but I’ve realised that that wasn’t actually necessary.
  • A proper crescendo alarm. Starts off quiet, and gets louder. You also have very fine grained control over how loud it goes.

Next, some other good things about it:

  • It’s not radio controlled, but it’s actually better than that – because it’s also a DAB radio, the time is set automatically within a few seconds, whereas a radio controlled clock can take up to 10 minutes to get a signal and set itself up.
  • It has 3 separate alarms, each of which can be configured totally independently, with the following options:
    • Weekday / weekend / every day / one specific date
    • Buzzer / radio (and you can even choose different radio stations for each alarm)
    • Volume
  • The alarm won’t keep going for ever until your neighbour lets herself in, tracks down the source of the commotion, and unplugs it.
  • It has a USB port on the back. Now, don’t get too excited, because it’s purely for the purposes of charging your phone. It can’t do anything clever like access files on the internal storage. Still, being able to trickle-charge your phone overnight without requiring anything other than just a USB lead is handy. And:
  • It does have a 3.5mm aux input.
  • It has a sleep timer. “But most clock radios have sleep timers” I hear you say. Ah, but this one’s clever. Instead of suddenly turning off at the end of the prescribed period, it fades out. Now you’re jealous, aren’t you?

All in all, I’m overjoyed with this device. It’s got absolutely everything I’m looking for.

And so this period of turmoil comes to an end, at least where clock radios are concerned.

Pete

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