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Electronic Accessories

Best Alarm Clock

Alarm clocks now come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some are better suited for some consumers than others. The premise is still the same, a small device that tells time and sounds an alarm at a pre-determined time and date. But nowadays you have an entire spectrum of possibilities out there when it's time to choose one for your needs.

Such products these days are usually electronic and fully digital. Sure, you can still find the analog types with the round face and bells up top, but even those have some electronic component attached, such as a lit-up face. But most alarm clocks use bright, lit-up digital displays that are either LCD or LED and come with brightness dimmers. Many of these clocks have dual alarm capability, good for two-person households to set exclusive alarms with different sounds tailored to each individual.

There are alarm clocks that also feature musical components to them. Clock radios have been around for decades, but with the advent of satellite radio and technologies such as iPods and MP3 players, your only option isn't just AM/FM radio anymore (though most still have it to some degree). Alarm clock docks allow you to use personal music devices to listen to your songs or even wake up to them in the mornings, instead of loud buzzers or digital alarms. For business travelers or vacationers, there are smaller versions of popular alarm clocks that are fully portable for travel. These have many of the same features as your alarm clock at home, using visual and audio technologies to make your morning as pleasant or disruptive as need be.

Heavy sleepers need not worry about sleeping through their alarms anymore either. Many major manufacturers offer clocks that sound off extremely loud alarms that can wake anyone, and even come with vibrating accessories that can be used to shake you awake in bed.

Alarm clocks can range in price and convenience, from the most basic to those with endless exotic features and designs. With so many types of alarm clocks to choose from, you may just find the one you need among the following lists below.

Nixie Ramos Alarm Clock

Nixie Ramos Alarm Clock

With it's postmodern-meets-steampunk aesthetic, the Nixie Ramos is one of the coolest alarm clocks on the market at the moment, with a speaker that can crank out over 86 decibels. To put that in perspective, that's about the noise level output of a train whistle approaching the station. But don't think you can just reach over and punch a button to shut this thing down, the Nixie Ramos requires a little more attention than that. It's been designed for you to get up out of bed and go to a wireless Defuse Panel and punch in a code that will send a signal to the main unit to shut down. It's up to you where to place that Defuse Panel so that you are up and out of bed at the proper time.

Don't worry, the rest of the clock functions are way easier than that to operate – using a rotary dial to set the time, there's no need for repetitive button pushing to set your alarm. The Nixie Ramos comes with a few helpful modes as well, a Snooze Mode that lets you have a limited number of snoozes before it goes off, a Lockdown Mode that prevents you from resetting your wake up time before it's about to go off, and Courtesy Mode where the alarm goes off for a quick 10 seconds only, then waits a full minute for you to get out of bed and defuse the alarm before it sounds off.

Of course, what really makes this clock stand out is just how great it looks &ndsah; available in dark walnut or light maple, the Nixie Ramos uses (what else?) four nixie tubes to display the time. These types of bulbs were mainly used in Cold War era Soviet tanks and space-craft and are still in limited use today for a number of different applications.

Pacific Cornetta Screaming Meanie Alarm Clock

At first glance it doesn't even look like a typical alarm clock. But don't be fooled, this unit shrills a continous high frequency sound at three adjustable volumes until you physically stop its piercing wail. On the lowest setting, you'll get a typical alarm sound that most clocks emit. Switch it up a notch and you're at 95 decibels, which is already loud enough for almost anyone to react to in seconds. But if you're one of those real heavy sleepers, set it at high for a 120 decibel scream that will not stop until you shut it off. There's no conventional snooze option on this clock either, you must actively press three buttons at the same time to finally silence it. Good morning, now you're awake. The Screaming Meanie was originally designed for use by long-haul truckers so it comes with other helpful features such as a countdown timer, a panic alarm and an audio signaling beacon. The unit itself is only 6 inches long and runs on just one 9 volt battery, so it's not only great for heavy sleepers but it's easily portable for heavy travelers as well.

Bluemax Sunrise System 320 Alarm Clock

Commonly referred to as a "dawn simulator," the Bluemax Sunrise System 320 uses long-lasting LED bulbs to create a powerful, warm light that shines upon you when it's time to get up. Some people prefer their mornings to be peaceful and serene; wailing screams or raucous discord are the last thing they want to wake up to. But even the heaviest dozer would be hard-pressed to sleep through high-wattage bathed across their face. Think of it as someone walking into your darkened room and opening the curtains to let the intense morning sun hit you in the face. The LED's can be set for a 10 minute to 90 minute "sunrise", with the lights getting brighter and more intense at your prescribed progression. Or if you just want to calm down and relax, you can reverse the setting to simulate a soothing "sunset."

Maybe it's the weekend and you don't need to wake up at any specific time – the Bluemax also works as a reliable night-light and it can even be set to switch on and off at random for when you're away from home but don't want anyone to know you've left. Of course, if you also need that invading audible stimulation to get you up, the Bluemax has a loud alarm that can be set with your appointed sunrise time as well.

Sonic Boom SBB500ss Sonic Bomb Loud Plus Vibrating Alarm Clock

Sonic Alert has a whole line of clocks with powerful alarms, but the SBB500ss Sonic Bomb is definitely among the best of the bunch. Capable of outputting 113 decibels, this alarm is ear-piercing enough to wake up any heavy sleeper, and it comes with fully adjustable volume and tone controls to customize the sound from a high-pitch to a low, dull wail. Either way, it'll wake you up quick. There are other customizable facets to it as well – you have the option of setting the snooze time from one minute all the way to a half hour before the shrieking torment begins anew and you can even set the duration of time the alarm will sound. So you can adjust it to sound for one whole minute before shutting off, all the way up to a full hour, so there's no way it will shut off on its own unless you actually do so. This feature is good for those folks who can't hear the alarm at first and the continued sound will eventually make its way into their subconscious.

The bed-shaking pad isn't called "Super Shaker" for nothing, vibrating violently enough to wake up anyone still breathing. For those mornings where your significant other wants to sleep in, you can set the alarm to just shake instead of also sounding off. An additional plus – Sonic Alert knows how great this clock is, and in case something goes wrong with it, they offer a one-year warranty on the unit.

Amplicom TCL100 Amplified Analog Alarm Clock

Amplicom's TCL 100 is similar in form and function to the Sonic Alert. Both companies manufacture a long line of products for the hard of hearing, with alarm clocks that offer loud decibel levels and vibrating pillow shaker units. While the Sonic Bomb is 113 db, the TCL 100 gets up to 90, and both come with wireless vibrating shakers that are slim enough to fit by the headboard. But the TCL 100 does things a bit differently beyond the obvious comparisons; the first thing you notice is that this clock is analog. No digital readout here. Amplicom has also added a built-in telephone signaler to their clock, which can alert you to incoming phone calls and act as a substitute for a telephone ring that is too low to be detected by the hearing impaired. The TCL 100 is even smaller than the Sonic Bomb, so you can fit it in any travel bag and take it along with you on long trips. Five different alarm patterns let you customize the alarm how you like it and you can set the alarm in three ways – just an alarm, just the vibration, or both together.

JBL On Time Micro Speaker System Alarm Clock Dock

The speakers on this dock from JBL are just the tip of the iceberg. They pump out crystal clear sound through optimized compression technology between the throat and aperture of each speaker to ensure a rich and complete sound output. The bass is deep and every note is crisp and accurate. Pretty much what you'd expect from these guys. The unit works with all docking versions of iPhone and iPod products, but just in case you're an Android person the stereo mini-jack has you covered there as well. The dome shape of the unit itself is sleek and comes with an easy to use interface that features a subtle, backlit LCD display. Programming the unit is simple and there are a lot of features to access, most notably the seven independent alarm settings. You can set alarms for different times, dates, users and sounds; including music from your docked device. One last thing, the On Time dock comes with a remote control.

Hale Dreamer Alarm Clock Speaker Dock for Android

Unlike just about every other alarm clock dock out there, when you plug your Android phone into this unit, the two of them actually communicate with one another. Hale engineered their Dreamer dock to regulate the incoming notifications you receive. With their Smart Silence feature, the dock can actually screen your calls and allow the phone to ring only for those parties you select. All others get a text notification asking if the call is an emergency. You tell the Dreamer which calls should ring through.

Dual alarms can be set on the Dreamer and when your alarm goes off, it comes through loud and clear. Too loud? You can adjust the volume, as well as the brightness and look of the large customizable display screen. But with a name like Dreamer, surely it should help you fall asleep – and it can do just that with a "Lullaby Mode" that gives you a selection of soothing sounds to help you drift off to sleep, like rainfall, a brook, crickets, ocean waves, and even simple white noise. All of this coming through on the dock's single 10 watt speaker that reproduces all sound output with full, resonant, crystal clear clarity. Best of all, this is a true Android compatible product that lets you control your phone's functions with the dock via the Hale Dreamer Alarm Clock app.

Philips DC315 Dual Alarm Clock Dock

The DC315 is equipped with a box system speaker setup which has been designed for true, deeper bass output with less distortion. The speaker is not airtight, so airflow can resonate through the bass pipe and in turn it uses that air mass to enhance the lower frequencies in the speaker output. Sounds technical here, but it sounds terrific when music is playing on the dock, which is compatible with most generations of iPod and iPhone devices. But yes, it will also allow you to play music from any MP3 player or other device through the auxiliary input. You also get a full array of digital FM radio stations. The dual alarm settings are programmable for different days, times and users as is customary in such a feature; and once you preset them, the unit will remember each one and sound off automatically unless disabled. With that, you get your choice of alarm sound settings; either a gently increasing alarm sound, the FM radio or your device.

iHome iDL45 Desktop Clock Radio

The iDL45 can sync up to just about any generation Apple product. iPod, iPhone, and iPad are all compatible here, either via USB port or Lightning connection. Whichever one you use, the dock will let you stream your favorite playlists while charging the device, and you can even set your alarm to wake you up to your streamed music in the morning. There's also the choice of digital FM radio as your morning alarm, and the dock has a gradual wake up or sleep function that can increase or decrease the volume of your music gradually so the sound output isn't too jarring to the sensibilities early in the morning. Speaking of sound output, the iDL45's Reson8 speakers have been designed and built with sealed enclosures to ensure the best possible sound reproduction along the low, mid, and high range for a full and complete presentation of your music, the way it was intended to be heard. Lows are deep and powerful while the highs are nice and crisp.

Craig Dual Alarm Industrial iPod/iPhone Docking Alarm Clock (CMB3228)

This dock from Craig has been built to be rugged and strong. It's bigger than most other docks out there, so it might be well-suited for homes with small children or pets that like to jump up on the furniture. If any of them knock into this or bang it around, the iCRAIG will keep cranking out the tunes. The dock is compatible with iPod and iPhone devices which will let you directly stream your music through the unit's dual speaker system while simultaneously charging your mobile device. You get dual alarm functions on the unit and each one lets you set your alarm to sound off from the music on your iPod or iPhone, the integrated digital AM/FM tuner, or a buzzer sound that should be more than adequate to get your butt out of bed in the morning. If you don't have an Apple device, don't worry about it – the dock will let you connect any other MP3 player or smartphone via the auxiliary jack. Though you can't use that device as an alarm, you can stream your music through the dock.

Sonic Alert Sonic Boom SB200SS Travel Alarm Clock

Sonic Alert makes a wide variety of alarm clocks in all shapes, sizes, and colors; and the SB200SS represents the best of their travel size collection. This clock measures six inches long, features a backlit easy-to-read display with dimmer capability which can be toggled to standard or military time, and uses 2AA batteries as backup in the event the power goes out on the AC cord. But the two best components of this clock are the alarms. The first is a powerful 113 decibel alarm that has adjustable tone and volume controls; so you can make it as low pitched or shrill as you like, while muting it considerably or letting it wail at full throttle. The second is a 12-volt bed shaker pad which vibrates violently under your pillow, next to the headboard, or anywhere else you'd like to place it so shake you awake. You can even set both to go off at the same time for a complete jolt of your senses in the morning.

Pacific Cornetta Screaming Meanie Alarm Clock

At first glance it doesn't even look like a typical alarm clock. But don't be fooled, this unit shrills a continous high frequency sound at three adjustable volumes until you physically stop its piercing wail. On the lowest setting, you'll get a typical alarm sound that most clocks emit. Switch it up a notch and you're at 95 decibels, which is already loud enough for almost anyone to react to in seconds. But if you're one of those real heavy sleepers, set it at high for a 120 decibel scream that will not stop until you shut it off. There's no conventional snooze option on this clock either, you must actively press three buttons at the same time to finally silence it. Good morning, now you're awake. The Screaming Meanie was originally designed for use by long-haul truckers so it comes with other helpful features such as a countdown timer, a panic alarm and an audio signaling beacon. The unit itself is only 6 inches long and runs on just one 9 volt battery, so it's not only great for heavy sleepers but it's easily portable for heavy travelers as well.

Braun BNC005 Reflex Control Travel Alarm Clock

Measuring just three inches long and two across, Braun's BNC005BK travel alarm clock has a most unique function that you won't find in many devices such as this, especially an analog version. Instead of the standard snooze button to shut the alarm down, Braun has given their clock a motion sensor. Simply wave your hand in front of the unit and you've hit the snooze. Of course, shutting the alarm off so it doesn't continue ringing takes a little extra effort but not much; there are merely three function keys that control every facet of the unit. Quartz movement accuracy, a backlit face, and a crescendo alarm that gets louder as it rings are all additional features on this precision time piece that even has a world time zone map to help you set the clock to the local time of your trip's destination.

Timex T115S Multi-Function Travel Alarm Clock

Simple design in a small package that has a lot of purpose. Timex gave this a basic interface and a one inch LCD digital display that's easy to read in daylight and nighttime. A droning buzzer sound will rouse you out of bed in the morning and if you're not quite ready to get up yet, hit the snooze for a short yet sweet four minute delay before it starts to buzz again. But there's more to this little clock than the basics. The T115S has a built in flashlight made of super bright white LED's when you're fumbling through the dark hotel room looking for a light and it even comes equipped with an integrated clip for finishing the last few chapters of that novel you started on the beach earlier in the day. Weighing in at under one l pound and measuring just four inches in length, this Timex can fit in just about anything for easy portability to that next destination on your journey.

Casio TQ140 Travel Alarm Clock

The TQ-140 is a compact little clock that holds true to the company's long time slogan that says their products can "take a lickin and keep on tickin". That sure is the truth on this diminutive unit. It's small enough to throw into any overnight bag and it's built sturdy to handle any kind of trip to anywhere. There are no digital components or motion sensors or 100 db alarms or vibration devices here, just a square housing with an analog face and two luminous hands that glow in the dark. The clock runs quiet with just a faintly audible ticking sound and setting the alarm is as easy as dialing the hands to the time you want to wake up. One AA battery is all it takes to get the clock working and you'll get countless hours on just that one cell. The TQ-140 is a solid, reliable little clock for consumers who don't need something flashy and complicated, nor want to spend the money for such extravagance.

Sony ICF-C717PJ Nature Sounds Projection Dual Alarm Clock Radio

Sony's projection clock makes the top of our list for a whole host of reasons. The brushed aluminum cabinet gives it a sleek aesthetic and comes with a 90 degree angle lens to project the current time on any wall or ceiling in the room. There are a number of alarm options included; a Dual Alarm feature lets you set two separate alarms to go off at different times and it will sound a crescendo buzzer, the AM/FM radio or a collection of five nature sounds to wake you up. The ICF-C717PJ comes with a blue backlit display that tells the time, the date and even the room temperature and comes with brightness control. Don't worry if the power goes out, the clock will still keep time on battery power and you can even set snooze times from 10 to 60 minutes between recurring alarms. The radio has 10 station presets, five AM and five FM, and there's also a built-in audio cable to connect an IPod or smartphone for playing music through the clock speakers. Plus, you never have to set the ICF-C717PJ as it self-adjusts for Daylight Savings.

Electrohome EAAC600 AM/FM Projection Clock Radio

The EAAC600 offers a lot more than your typical, run of the mill alarm clock. The device can set the time and date all by itself – you just specify which time zone you're in and the clock does the rest. It adjusts for daylight savings and always remains accurate, even after a power outage. The projection feature on Electrohome's device comes with a swiveling projector that allows for display on the wall or ceiling at a full 180 degree tilt. You can turn the feature on and off as you wish, but if you leave it on in the daytime it's not very noticeable. It just doesn't get that bright. But in the dark, you can see it perfectly. The same goes for the large, backlit 3.6" LCD screen, which some consumers might find too bright as they try to get some sleep. There is a dimmer switch to reduce the brightness but it still remains quite luminescent.

The EAAC600 offers a digital AM/FM tuner for listening to music or talk radio, and you can select your favorite station to wake you up in the morning. But if terrestrial radio isn't your thing, you can hook up any MP3 player or iPod to program the music you want to hear anytime.

Supersonic SC-371 Digital Projection Alarm Clock with AM/FM Radio

Measuring about five inches in length, the SC-371 is a digital clock that displays the time in red LED with a built-in swivel projector that casts the time on any wall or ceiling. But while the time display is digital, the AM/FM tuner is analog using a rotary dial to tune in your preferred station. There's an alarm that you can set to go off when you need to be awakened but you can also use the radio for the same purpose. Just like the previous models on our list, there's an auxiliary port for connecting MP3 players, iPods, and anything that streams music on a portable device that lets you use a standard set of earphones. Stick a 9V battery inside the unit to backup the time and date in the event the power goes out, but that you'll need to buy separately.

Elgin 3468E Electric Auto-Setting Projection Dual Alarm Clock

Retailing for about $20 at most stores, the Elgin 3468E is a simple projection clock that does everything you need without any major additional features. Just place the unit in the direction you want it to project and you'll see the time glowing before you. Plug it in, set the time zone you're located in and the clock will do the rest, setting itself for the correct time instantly. The large, round front display shows the time, day, date and time zone in bright aqua digital font. Unfortunately, you can't adjust the brightness levels on there. The clock does have an alarm with adjustable volume and Dual Alarm capability as well as a snooze that repeats every five minutes. If that's all you need, that's all you're going to get with this Elgin unit. You won't be disappointed.

La Crosse 616-146A Atomic Projection Alarm Clock

This La Crosse projection clock has more features than many of the other clocks on our list, but some of them come with caveats. The most noticeable among those is the fact that you have to keep the front display and the projection illuminated at the same time – you don't have the option of one or the other. Even the adjustable brightness settings keep the display and the projection image rather bright at all times. But the full color display tells the time, date, eight moon phases, and indoor temperature. Toggle the projection between three settings to display the time and temp, or just the time or just the temp. The clock is set to the Atomic Clock and can be switched between 12 hour and military standard time. The built-in USB port can charge any smartphone or mobile device if you so choose and the built-in alarm clock will wake you up when its time to start your day.

The Sharper Image EC-B150 Premium Sound Soother

You'd expect something this cool to come from the folks at Sharper Image. When it's time for bed, select from a catalog of twenty soothing sounds to lull you to sleep. These include relaxing soundscapes such as falling rain, thunderstorms, distant windchimes, and of course, simple white noise. They play in timed loops that are just long enough to make your eyelids heavy. For the mornings, you can set the unit to play one of three alarm types – a selection from the twenty soundscapes, a persistent beep alarm, or the FM radio. You can even set the alarm to sound gradually, starting low at first and then increasing volume incrementally. The backlit liquid crystal display features large numbers and letters that tell the time and date, and the brightness of the face can be adjusted to four levels, including off.

Oregon Scientific RM313PA Exactset Fixed Projection Alarm Clock

This clock from Oregon Scientific is the one you'll be setting every other clock in the house by. That's because it automatically sets itself based on the U.S. atomic clock, ensuring it's always correct. It will even set itself for Daylight Savings. The other, even cooler feature here is that it can project the exact time on any surface you choose, utilizing bright red LED's. They're bright enough to cast a strong projection, but never intrusive enough to interrupt the solace of a darkened bedroom. When the alarm goes off, it will crescendo from a low sound to much louder in a short period of time. Hit the snooze and you get an eight minute reprieve before it starts back up again. The clock can run on AC power and takes 2 AA batteries for backup in case the power goes out. Finally, when you do get out of the bed, check the indoor temperature reading on the clock to see if you'll need your slippers before you step down to the floor. It'll tell you how chilly the room is.

TimeWise Bell Ringer Loud Alarm Clock

The TW15009 from TimeWise looks like your typical travel-sized alarm clock. It features Quartz accuracy movement with a sweep second hand that eliminates the ticking noise that's often associated with analog clocks. The clock face has a bright, on-demand backlight that illuminates just enough for you to see the time and set your alarm when the lights are off, without a constant glow coming from your night-stand. Just shut it off when you're done. In the morning, you'll be jolted awake by the fire drill sound of the alarm. This thing gets super loud and it'll be sure to wake you the heck up when you need to be out of bed. Of course, there's a top snooze button to get a few more minutes of sleep before the alarm rings again. The TW15009 uses 2 AA batteries, which come included.

RCA RCD20 Alarm Clock

The RCA RCD20 is one of the least expensive alarm clocks on our list, yet it offers reliable functionality at a price point under $10 from most retailers. There aren't many bells and whistles here, just the basics. The unit itself is pretty small and features a .7" green LED display, an elongated top snooze button for easy accessibility when you're bleary-eyed and half awake, a night-light, and oversized buttons that let you control all of the clock's time and alarm set functions. It's even small enough to fit on any night-stand or toss it into your travel bag to bring it with you when you travel. Stick in a 9V battery to use for backup in case the power goes out; the clock will still keep the correct time and wake you up at your designated alarm time.

Serene VA3 Vibrating Travel Alarm Clock

The VA3 from Serene Innovations offers a lot of functionality despite its small stature. The biggest selling point here is the vibration feature, which is why the clock measures almost five inches long. It's designed to fit comfortably under your pillow so it can begin to shake violently when your alarm is set to go off. The VA3 does that job very well, convulsing beneath your head so powerfully you can't help but be disturbed by it. Of course, the unit comes equipped with a traditional alarm that can be set to three volume levels. There's also a flashing light to go with the sound and the fury that the VA3 is capable of when it's time to wake up. But that's not all Serene Innovations added to their product to make it one of the best overall alarm clocks on the market today; the unit comes with a timer, a flashlight, a thermometer, 12 or 24 hour clock modes, and a handy clip to attach the tiny device to your pillow so it doesn't shake itself onto the floor before getting you up.

Marc Gottlieb
I'm a rabid sports-aholic who's been to Super Bowl XXI, the Indy 500 and witnessed Doug Flutie's hail mary pass to Gerard Phelan live in Miami. Sundays are sacred in my household and I'm a two-time back to back champion of my fantasy football league. I played a lot of sports in high school; football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and I was on the school ski team. I even tried my hand at racquetball in college. I've jumped out of two perfectly good airplanes and bungee jumped off a construction crane. Since then I've worked for one of the top product placement companies in Hollywood, coordinating with most of the major sports apparel labels to get their products featured in films and TV. But it's a life-long obsession with music and film that has given me years of experience with the latest technologies and innovations in electronics. If they've built it, I've tried it and likely bought it. Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray players; I own multiple units that cater to all of these formats and more. A misspent youth immersing myself in pop culture meant I craved the hottest devices through which to enjoy it all, and at the highest possible quality. What I learned over time though, is that the most expensive items aren't always the best.
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