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The 5 best alarm clocks: Rise and shine

What is the best alarm clock? ZDNet chose the Hatch Restore clock. We compared pricing as well as features like customizable alarms, Alexa support, and radio options to determine our top picks. Waking up is hard, but these alarm clocks help make mornings better.
allison-murray-2.jpg
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Let's face it: It's never easy to wake up in the morning. Whether you sleep through your alarm, snooze it an embarrassing number of times, or throw it across the room in agony, you might not always have a great relationship with your morning alarm.

While most people nowadays use their smartphones for an alarm, an actual, physical alarm clock (with high-tech specs, of course) can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and gradually wake you up, so you feel well-rested in the morning.

We've rounded up the best alarm clocks on the market today with features like morning meditations, gentle lights that wake you up, voice assistant compatibilities, and much more.

Hatch Restore
Hatch

Features: Control via app or touch | 22 light colors | 30-minute gradual sunrise alarm

The Hatch Restore is a sound machine, sunrise alarm, smart light, meditation app, and alarm clock, all in one device. One of its standout features is its lighting: it provides a reading light, a soft, soothing night light, and a gradual glowing light that allows you to wake up with light rather than an obnoxious sound.

Of course, if you do need sound to wake you up, the Hatch Restore has sounds like gentle chimes and nature sounds to wake you gently out of sleep. There are also guided meditations you can listen to either right when you wake up or right before bed, as well as sleep stories if you need extra help falling asleep.

While the Hatch alarm clock comes in at a high price, when you factor in all the features you get with it, it might be worth it for some people. One of the only downsides to this alarm clock is that it is relatively large and might take up a considerable amount of your nightstand.

Pros

  • Meditations
  • Soothing light to lull you to sleep and wake you up in the morning
  • Sleep sounds and sleep stories

Cons

  • Takes up a decent amount of space on your nightstand
  • High price 
Loftie Alarm Clock
Loftie

Features: 2-phase alarm | Dimmable display | USB-C plug

If you're a deep sleeper, you're going to need something a bit more customizable, and that's where the Loftie clock comes in. You can customize your alarm tone, volume, and day of the week in your settings. There are also two phases to this alarm clock: the first sound is gentle to get you out of your sleep cycle, while the second is meant to get you out of bed.

Loftie's other features include an adjustable nightlight, a noise machine for white noise or nature soundscapes, and a Bluetooth connection so you can fall asleep to a customized playlist or an audiobook. Like the Hatch Restore clock, Loftie also has meditations along with breathwork and sound bath wellness content.

 At almost $150, this is by far the most expensive option on our list. Other downsides are that the clock's numbers can be too small for some and that the clock must always be connected to Wi-Fi for it to work. 

Pros

  • Customize alarm intensity
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Nature sounds and white noise machine

 Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • Small numbers
  • Must always be connected to Wi-Fi  
iHome Bluetooth Alarm Clock
Amazon

Features: Built-in microphone and digital voice echo cancellation | 5 LED colors | Dual alarms

A much cheaper option for an alarm clock is the iHome Bluetooth clock. While it works with iOS and Android devices for Bluetooth connectivity to listen to music or audiobooks, it doubles as a charger for iOS devices. And, since it connects to your smartphone, its speakerphone function lets you talk to others on the phone hands-free.

The alarm clock sound can be set to your own Bluetooth audio, AM or FM radio, or a built-in tone. You can also set dual alarms for separate wake-up times. Another feature of the iHome clock is that it has six color displays to let you set the mood, and you can even set one up to come on with your alarm.

Customers note that the buttons for the iHome Bluetooth clock are relatively small and, therefore, are hard to touch and navigate, especially when you're half asleep and are trying to turn off your insistent alarm.

Pros

  • Can charge your iPhone
  • Changes colors
  • Wake up to Bluetooth audio or a radio station 

Cons

  • Buttons are small and difficult to figure out, especially when half asleep
  • Bluetooth connectivity issues 
Amazon Echo Show 5
Amazon

Features: HD touchscreen | Adaptive color screen | 1280 x 800 resolution

For those looking for a smart home device that doubles as an alarm clock, the Amazon Echo Show 5 is a great option. It has Alexa capabilities built right in so you can ask Alexa what the weather is like, top news stories, and reminders of the day as soon as you wake up.

Aside from choosing different clock styles for your display, the Echo Show 5 can control your other smart home devices, make video calls, and even stream TV shows or movies right to your nightstand.

The only downside customers noted about the Echo Show 5 is that its voice recognition can be wonky. Also, many mentioned that the overall sound quality could be better.

Pros

  • Alexa capabilities are built right in
  • Can control your other smart home devices
  • Can stream TV shows or movies

Cons

  • Voice recognition is wonky
  • Sound quality could be better 
Sony AM/FM Alarm Clock Radio
Sony

Features: Large LCD display | Snooze button | Battery backup

Of course, if you're looking for a simple, no-frills alarm clock, there's always the Sony AM/FM Alarm Clock Radio. This clock has limited features, but the basic ones you need to wake up in the morning: a gradual wake-up alarm, a programmable sleep-timer for the radio, and adjustable display brightness.

The Sony Alarm Clock radio automatically sets the time and even adjusts for daylight savings. In addition, it has a battery backup to keep the clock working and your alarm on in the event of a power outage.

While this clock's limited features could be considered great for some, they could be downsides for others since you are really only limited to radio stations. Also, customers say that the max volume output could be louder. 

Pros

  • Gradual wake-up alarm
  • Programmable sleep-timer for the radio
  • Adjustable brightness

 Cons

  • Volume is not loud enough
  • Only limited to radio stations 

What is the best alarm clock?

Our pick for the best alarm clock is the Hatch Restore, since it acts as a sound machine, sunrise alarm, smart light, meditation app, and alarm clock, all in one device.

Alarm Clock

Price

Alarm Type

Hatch Restore

$130

30-minute gradual sunrise alarm

Loftie Alarm Clock

$150

2-phase customizable alarm

iHome Bluetooth Clock

$45

Dual alarms set to Bluetooth audio, AM/FM radio, or a built-in tone with lights

Echo Show 5

$85

Alexa-enabled alarm clock

Sony AM/FM Alarm Clock Radio

$25

Basic alarm tone or AM/FM radio alarm

Which alarm clock is right for you?

To narrow down which of these alarm clocks are right for you, think about what you want out of your alarm clock. If you want a slow and relaxing wake-up, the Hatch Restore clock is a great way to gradually wake up to the day. However, if you're a deep sleeper that needs all the help you can get to wake up, the Loftie clock is a great choice. And, if you're looking for a back-to-basics alarm clock that simply wakes you up when you set it to, the Sony AM/FM Alarm Clock Radio will work just fine for you. 

Choose this alarm clock... 

If you want... 

Hatch Restore

The best overall option

Loftie Alarm Clock

An alarm clock that will wake the deepest of sleepers

iHome Bluetooth Clock

A budget-friendly alarm clock that is still super customizable and doubles as a speaker

Echo Show 8

An alarm clock that doubles as a smart home device 

Sony AM/FM Alarm Clock Radio

A no-frills alarm clock 

How did we choose these alarm clocks?

Since the market for alarm clocks is so large, we specifically zoned in on tech-focused alarm clocks that can provide you with more than just a noise that wakes you up. We looked across various brands and compared the different features that multiple devices offer to ultimately choose our picks.

We also took into consideration verified customer reviews and the experiences (both the good and the bad) customers had with the alarm clock they purchased.

Why choose an alarm clock over your smartphone's alarm?

There are many reasons why sleeping by your smartphone is a bad idea. First off, research shows that the blue light that emits from your phone can suppress melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Therefore, your late-night scrolling habit makes it harder for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up in the morning.

By keeping your smartphone in an entirely different room (or at the very least, across your bedroom) and using a physical alarm clock instead, you won't be as tempted to scroll your phone before bed or check it in the middle of the night. 

Are there alternative alarm clocks worth considering?

Here are a couple of other alarm clock options to look into: 

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