By the side of my bed is an ultra low-tech alarm clock that cost me exactly £9. It has an FM / AM radio or a buzzer. I’ve had it for years and still have no idea how to turn off the alarm properly in the morning, so I just turn down the volume.
To bring me up-to-date, here’s the GOgroove BlueSYNC TYM alarm clock. It’s got a few tricks, and looks a whole lot better than my old plastic alarm clock too. Up front you can see that the display is beamed onto the wooden finish, and there’s two brightness levels for this via a control button at the rear. To be honest, the brightest setting isn’t enough for showing the display when the sunshine is coming in the window. That said, in the evening and during the night both brightness levels are fine.
That case genuinely is wood, and there’s two versions of this available to suit your furniture. This lighter model (£36.49 as I type) doesn’t come with a USB output, but the darker one I’m reviewing here does (and it’s £39.79).
First up, let me set some expectations for you. This is an alarm clock that will beep to wake you up. Sure, you can pair your phone easily by tapping the NFC symbol on the top (this will initiate the Bluetooth pairing process with the appropriate device) or you can feed a 3.5mm audio plug into the back and blast your tunes out.
What you can’t do is to use the music on your phone as your “wake up” soundtrack. It’s a Bluetooth speaker that will blast out your tunes via the stereo speakers that sit neatly at either end, and an alarm clock that’ll beep to wake you up.
As a Bluetooth speaker it’s really very good. The sound it kicks out is quite powerful and it’s far better than any portable Bluetooth speaker I carry around. As a way to save space in your room (by combining a Bluetooth speaker into an alarm clock), it’s good in that respect, but it is a little on the large side. This one is 25.1 x 9.7 x 22.2 cm and is taller, wider and deeper than my previous alarm clock. It weighs 1KG too.
A lot of the reason for the extra size, it seems, is the additional display area showing the date. Personally, I don’t see a need to know what day and month it is, not in the middle of my slumber. However, it’s displayed on the right side of the unit. At first look, the additional numbers can seem a bit confusing. In this shot it’s 11:22 AM on the 24th of August, but let’s say it’s 07:08 on the 8th of August. The display would show 07:08 08.08. When you’ve just woke up, let me tell you, it’s all a bit confusing and you might think that it’s 08:08 AM instead of 07:08 AM for a moment. Are you on time for work? Are you running late?
Then that brings me to the next minor issue, and that’s the touch buttons on the top. These initially seem great, with the ability to answer calls, adjust the volume and snooze. They’re all pretty self-explanatory and you just need to rest your finger on the appropriate one. However, when the alarm was waking me up one morning I found that actually locating that “Snooze” button was a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. When I’ve got my head on the pillow I’m level with the alarm clock, as I’m sure it would be for you, so you can’t see the top to locate the button… and you can’t do it by feel. You tap it once to snooze, then press-and-hold to turn the alarm off until the next day
Setting the clock and setting the alarm is weirdly done with a set of buttons at the rear. Why this is so, I’m not too sure. It means that – if you don’t want the clock to wake you up at the weekend or you want a different alarm time, you have to press buttons around the back. This, when the results of your furious pressing are displayed up front, make the process of setting the alarm a little tricky.
One bonus, on the model I’m reviewing here, is the presence of a USB port at the back. This means you can whack in your phone or iPad and charge it overnight.
The finish of this device is good, the volume and audio quality is great and I do like how easy it is to pair. It’s also relatively cheap, I was quite enamoured with how the LED numbers are displayed against the wood and the addition of the USB port is welcomed. However, the touch-sensitive buttons on top were a bit lost on me and I didn’t see the need to display the date on the front.