What to look for in an alarm clock

Allah Magic Light Speaker Alarm Clock

If you’re out shopping and don’t see any of the above, you can find a good option for your nightstand by keeping a couple of things in mind.

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iHome has an alarm with Amazon’s Alexa built in that we’ll be reviewing shortly. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Red and orange numbers are less likely to cast a glow

That might not matter to you if a glow won’t bother you or if you actually want a glow, but if you don’t like a bright sleeping environment, the color of the numbers is a bigger deal than you’d expect. That’s one thing you can learn about the alarm just by looking at the display.

Focus on the basics

Alarms that perform a bunch of extra tricks are nice, but you probably have something else in your house that’s better at playing music or that has a charging port for your phone. Look for an alarm that’s easy to set, easy to check, has an indicator so you can see that it’s armed and has a big snooze button that you can find when you’re half asleep.

Get the extras you want

After you find a couple of options that get the basics right, find the one with extras that appeal to you. Do you want a nightlight? Do you want several alarms? Do you want to customize the length of the timer? Do you want a radio? The great thing about the breadth of the alarm category is that you can find a model that fits all of your desired criteria. And yes, if you really want to go crazy with a charging port or even wireless phone charging built in, those models exist too.

Gentle wakeups are great

If you don’t know what features to prioritize, look for an alarm that gradually increases in volume or slowly raises the light level to ease you out of your sleep. That was my favorite feature of the bunch and I generally felt less grumpy with alarms that didn’t shock me awake.

“Smart” alarm clocks are here

Finally, keep in mind that if you want an alarm with smarts — something that’s compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri — you have options other than the Lenovo Smart Clock and the Echo Show 5. iHome offers smart alarms with either Alexa or Google Assistant. And Insignia’s Google-compatible alarm clock is a good option if you can snag it when it’s periodically marked down to $25.

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