In the current era of touch-screen devices like the Apple iPad and smartcars that run on lithium-ion batteries, it's a wonder some of us still wake up to a clock-radio.
These ten advanced alarm clocks offer some new capabilities, although none will cook your breakfast...yet.
1. Logitech Squeezebox Touch
This 4.3-inch touchscreen music player uses the Squeezebox streaming service for music and internet radio. It lets you configure a different alarm for 7 days of the week, while it can also gradually raise the music volume. If you use the
Mysqueezebox.com service it will play music all day. The colour screen shows crisp album art and track info.
2. HP DreamScreen 10-inch
While this hybrid picture frame and media streaming device serves multiple purposes, one of them is displaying a digital or analogue clock. You can set two different alarms and wake up to music. There are precious few options for changing the clock face (in fact, you only get two) but it's conceivable that HP will offer new designs for this Wi-Fi enabled device. We'd also like to see a way to automatically play a photo slideshow in the morning and configure an alarm playlist.
3. Chumby Classic
The re-designed Chumby One alarm clock lost some of its charm compared to this plush Chumby Classic - which comes in several colours and even includes goofy "charms" you can hang off the side. The clock has a sleep timer that plays your own MP3 tracks or chirping nature sounds while the programmable alarm lets you set a custom volume level. You can also set multiple alarms, the length of the chime, and even add a back-up alarm to go off after the first one sounds - it plays a loud sustained chime.
4. JBL On Time iPhone & iPod Alarm Dock
Outstanding audio quality and slim design separate this alarm clock from the rest of the pack. To play music, you'll need an iPod Touch or iPhone, but you can also use the rear 3.5mm auxiliary port. Remarkably, for a device that's only 284mm wide with just two 6-watt speakers, the sound quality is crisp and clear thanks to the audio drivers JBL uses to reproduce sound.
5. Vers 1.5R Compact AM/FM Alarm
Like the JBL alarm clock, the Vers 1.5R Compact AM/FM Alarm plays music from the iPod Touch or iPhone. The major difference: this device is actually made out of wood bought from managed plantations, is 100 per cent RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) compliant, and the plastic components are PVC and BFR free. Alarm settings allow you to choose between the radio and MP3 player, and the volume increases gradually. Sound quality over the 15-watt speaker is just about OK.
6. Sony Dash
This powerful alarm clock uses a 500-Mhz processor and the Chumby OS, and it is the best of the bunch in terms of what the device can do when the alarm goes off. The Dash can play a chime, and you can set multiple built-in alarms, but you can also open any app automatically - say, a newspaper widget, a photo slideshow, or an app with Twitter feeds. You can also play a video clip or listen to internet radio.
7. Brick House Security Internet Ready iSpy Hidden Camera Clock
This one looks like an ordinary alarm clock, but that's just a decoy. In reality, the device has a hidden surveillance camera that uses motion detection. You can stream H.264 video automatically over the web, and because it's battery powered, you can place it anywhere in your home.
8. iHome Audio iA5
The improved version of the original iHome alarm clock, the iA5 displays a large, highly readable time readout on the forward-facing speaker. You can configure up to 18 different alarms on the included iPhone or iPod Touch app, or use the built-in alarm if you are not charging your gadget. There's an option for a gradual volume increase and a sleep timer. The app's best feature, though, has to do with sleep stats: you can track when you wake up, average hours of sleep, and how often you snooze.
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John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.