The best alarm clocks of 2020: start the day

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Even the most morning-y morning people sometimes need a little bit of help to get out of bed. But the wrong alarm clock can make you more likely to dig yourself deeper under the duvet than bound out of bed. The good news is that the best alarm clocks won’t just try to wake you up; they’ll keep going until your day is well and truly seized.

The best alarm clock for you depends on the kind of sleeper you are. If you could sleep through the end of the world, look for a loud and/or vibrating alarm that will shake you awake; if you’d rather ease into the day, an alarm that wakes you with natural light can help avoid the morning grumps (for more on those, check out our guide to the best wake-up lights).

If you’re searching for a perfectly restful night, be sure to head to our official ranking of the best mattresses right now, too.

HOW TO BUY THE BEST ALARM CLOCK FOR YOU

Pretty much any alarm clock or smartphone will get the job done, but some do it more beautifully than others. An alarm clock that’s also a smart speaker can also give you the weather forecast, traffic report or play your favourite podcast; one with Bluetooth can pair with your phone for a getting-ready soundtrack.RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSE

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If you’re wondering why not use your phone as an alarm clock too, there’s of course nothing to stop you – but phones put a world of tappable temptation (and in some cases, late-night work emails) right next to your bed, which can play havoc with your ability to relax. And if you forget to turn on do not disturb mode, they can do a lot of disturbing as notifications from your various messaging apps buzz or ping.

Also, alarm clocks look better than any dull glass slab. Leave the phone in another room and embrace one of these best alarm clocks instead.

OUR PICK OF THE BEST ALARM CLOCKS TO BUY TODAY

1. AMAZON ECHO DOT (3RD GENERATION) WITH CLOCK

The cheapest Amazon Echo is also the best alarm clock around

REASONS TO AVOID

If you’ve a fan of smart home technology – and as a T3 reader you almost certainly are – then the best alarm clock is a smart speaker, and the best value smart speaker is Amazon’s third generation Echo Dot. It retains the hockey-puck design of the previous generation but puts a clock display on it to make it a proper alarm clock as well as a very useful smart speaker.

Don’t be fooled by the promised improved speaker technology: there’s only so much you can do about the laws of physics and the Echo will not deliver big, impressive audio. But the Dot’s speaker is fine for radio and Alexa announcements, and while it’s not going to sound as good as a big Echo or a JBL Horizon you’re buying for price and convenience here. And Alexa is very convenient, enabling you to get information and control tech such as Hue lights with simple voice commands. You can even use it to make phone calls without getting out of bed.

2. LUMIE SUNRISE ALARM

The best alarm if you’re looking for a gentler way to wake up

Best for: Gentle awakeningsBack-up battery: YesAlarm options: Natural light, coloured lights, beep and nature sounds

There are lots of natural light alarm clocks out there, but few of them manage to combine good looks and a low price tag like this entry-level Lumie. In addition to 10 levels of white light it can do colours too, so you can wake yourself up with colours as well as with natural light. It’s not as adjustable as some of the more expensive Lumie daylight lamps, and some reviewers report that it gets a little too bright a little too quickly for their taste. If that sounds like you, it may be worth looking at a more adjustable lamp with more than 10 discrete lighting levels.

The Lumie starts working half an hour before your alarm time. It slowly increases the illumination so that by the time it’s time to get up, you’re already starting to stretch and greet the dawn of a new day. You can use it to help you sleep as well as to wake you up: there’s a 30-minute dimmer that slowly lowers the light level to help you drop off.

3. BRAUN CLASSIC ANALOGUE ALARM CLOCK

The best analogue alarm clock for design fans

SPECIFICATIONS

The Braun Analogue Alarm clock doesn’t have Bluetooth, so you can’t stream Spotify to it. It doesn’t know what a smart bulb does, it doesn’t have wheels, and you can’t charge your phone with it. It won’t wake you with natural light, and it can’t tell you the weather forecast. It doesn’t receive texts, and it won’t keep you awake with overly loud ticks.

It’s brilliant. This is the kind of alarm clock Steve Jobs would have had. It’s a design icon – that face! – and its features are purely practical. This model, which is positively extravagant by Braun’s minimalist standards, has grudgingly added a light so you can see the time in the dark, but other than that it does just two things: it tells you what the time is, and it wakes you up at the time you set it to. And sometimes, that’s all you want.

4. CLOCKY ALARM CLOCK ON WHEELS

The best alarm clock for serial snoozers

SPECIFICATIONS

We love the thinking behind the Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels. It’s one of those just-daft-enough ideas that you tend to have in the shower: wouldn’t it be great if your alarm clock ran away when you tried to snooze it? By sticking the alarm clock on twin powered wheels and giving it a fairly loud speaker, Clocky is the alarm clock you won’t sleep through. It’s tough, too: as it’s been designed to survive bedside table drops of up to 3 feet, it probably won’t complain too much if you mash it in an attempt to stop the alarm.

There have been lots of imitators since Clocky first arrived, but while some are pretty good – we have a soft spot for Sony’s various rolling speakers – Clocky manages to be both affordable and robust. Take that helicopter alarm clock out of your basket; if you want a clock that moves and that will still move after a few days of use, you’re better off with a Clocky.

5. JBL HORIZON

Boom! Shake the room! And other rooms too!

SPECIFICATIONS

JBL is best known for its speakers, and the Horizon doubles as a portable speaker that plays FM radio or streams audio from your phone via Bluetooth. The sound quality is, as you’d expect, very good, although FM reception isn’t always brilliant and the twin 5W speakers lack some of the low end you might expect from a dedicated audio device. We think the copywriter who described the sound as ‘room filling’ may live in a very small room, but it’s fine for occasional listening and for the all-important alarms (browse the best portable speakers instead if you’re after a speaker with oomph).  

The Horizon isn’t just about sound. It also has an ambient LED light feature that helps wake you up gradually, and you can set two different alarms so it wakes you at a separate time to your partner. It doubles as a charger too, so if you ignore our advice and take your phone into the bedroom you can use the Horizon to charge it. 

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