Now that it’s 2022, it’s time to revisit one of my more popular blog posts from 2017, entitled, “My borderline obsessive search for the world’s best alarm clock radio.” It’s now five years later, and a lot has changed in technology, and the world. So what’s the world’s best alarm clock radio for 2022? Let’s find out.
Does anyone even need an alarm clock radio anymore?
We’re (kinda) post-pandemic now and, everyone who can is working from home these days. So getting up early to catch a train or beat the traffic is no longer such a big deal. The usefulness of a clock radio, like the prospect of a world without a constant stream of new COVID variants, has dimmed alarmingly.
In addition, technology has made huge leaps in terms of mobile phones such that the thought of sleeping without being able to reach ours in an instant is unimaginable. But let’s take a look back at how far we’ve come. Remember my previous wishlist of “must-haves”? Hilarious.
My 2017 wishlist of features:
- High quality speakers (stereo, ideally)
- FM radio w/presets (5 or more)
- Apple Music, Spotify, and/or Internet Radio
- Bluetooth audio connectivity
- Wifi connectivity (for home automation)
- Ambient lighting-aware LED display
- USB charging
- Dual alarms (weekdays and weekends)
- Backup battery for power blackouts
- Easy to program/mobile app
Wow, those really take me back. FM radio? Internet radio? Are those even still things? Yikes. USB charging? What is this…2019?!? Most of those features are now either laughably standard on every device, or entirely moot thanks to iPhones and Pixels. In 2022, my features list would get culled down a lot.
My 2022 wishlist of features:
- Ambient lighting-aware LED display
- Wireless charging
Yeah, that’s it. Pretty short list. Everything else, my iPhone 13 Pro can do. High-quality speakers? Good enough. Spotify? Check. Bluetooth and wifi? Built-in. Dual Alarms? Check. Backup battery? Unnecessary.
The iPhone covers nearly all the functionality you could want in an alarm clock radio. So, bearing in mind that the bar for “world’s best alarm clock radio” has been lowered substantially in recent years, let’s look at some contenders for the title in 2022.
The contenders for the title of world’s best alarm clock radio of 2022.
First up, the iHome iW18 Compact Digital Alarm Clock.
The iHome iW18 dispenses with a lot of the “alarm clock radio” pretence by ditching the radio part altogether. It has two alarms, but I never used them. Most importantly, it has a charging dock, so there’s no cord wrangling. However, the device is very lightweight, so its own power cord drags it around my bedside table, keeping it stationary isn’t easy. Also, the LEDs have faded weirdly over time. And, although they are dimmable, the process is annoyingly manual. Also, it was easy to slightly misalign the phone on the dock and wake up with a dead iPhone battery. Not a lot of features for US$49.99, but the quality is good.
Next, I looked at the Emerson Radio ER100401 Smartset Alarm Clock Radio.
The Emerson Radio ER100401 Smartset Alarm Clock Radio (which is actually made by ITOMA) avoids the misalignment issue because the top of the clock is basically the same size as my iPhone 13 Pro. Its odd turquoise (why?) LED screen is bright enough to be highly visible during the day and dims to almost nothing at night. It can act as a decent Bluetooth speaker, too, and doesn’t sound bad for a box that small.
My only gripes with this clock are that the top is white (why?) and the charging icon (see arrow) is blindingly illuminated at full strength, even when you’ve set the LED display to automatically dim based on ambient light. Also, it feels a bit cheap for US$54.99.
ANJANK Wooden Digital Alarm Clock FM Radio
To be honest, I had high hopes for this more minimalist and attractive device at only US$39.99. It really looks well-designed from an aesthetic perspective. It has a nice rubberized charger pad on top, along with all the usual features of a good alarm clock radio.
Unfortunately, it lacks the one feature I absolutely require—an ambient light-sensing LED dimmer. (Come on, how hard is this if Emerson can manage it?!?) And that’s a deal-breaker for me. I am far too successful to have to dim my own alarm clock LED every night.
Siesta Charge DAB+ radio from Pure
The Siesta Charge DAB+, from the British company, Pure, looked very promising. At about US$150, it’s a high-end, quality product that boasts auto-dimming LEDs, superb audio quality, and Bluetooth streaming. We’re off to a great start!
The downside is that the Siesta Charge only receives DAB (or Digital Audio Broadcasting), which is the dominant radio standard in Europe, parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Sadly, DAB is all but useless in the US because we use HD Radio. Still, it might be worth considering, since I don’t really listen to radio outside the car.
More contenders to come. Check back for updates!
The winner of the world’s best alarm clock radio of 2022.
At this point in time, the jury is still out. I’m not entirely happy with the models available on the market today. But I hold out hope that some company will design and manufacture the world’s best “charging dock with dimmable clock” soon.
2023 UPDATE: I ended up keeping the cheap, unattractive Emerson Radio ER100401 Smartset Alarm Clock Radio, and surprisingly kinda like it. It’s basically just a big digital clock that charges my phone overnight. Turns out, that’s all I really need these days. So I guess our quest is at an end. For now, at least. I’m pretty sure that one of my wife’s cats will knock eventually it off the bed stand and break it. But hopefully, by then, I’ll have an artificially intelligent robot just throwing a bucket of water on me every morning.