Making A Timely Decision: Top 5 Best Clock Radios

Making A Timely Decision: Top 5 Best Clock Radios

Waking up in a cheery mood early in the morning and heading off to work or school is something which can be somewhat of a trying experience for many.

If you are, as the old saying goes, "waking up on the wrong side of the bed," you may be negatively affecting the mood and productivity for the remainder of your day. This is why it is essential to wake up on the right side of the bed with the assistance of the best radio alarm clock next to you on your night table.

In today's mobile phone obsessed society, some have decided to replace the alarm clock radio with their phone. Some may view the digital alarm clock radio as ‘old school,' which is not a particularly fair assessment since the modern units are including more and more technologically advanced features.

A clock radio connected to a tablet.

Although your phone does have an alarm system, there are several advantages to using a radio alarm clock instead. For instance, you may want to use your phone as a communication device and not burden it with having to double as an alarm.

As you are aware, your mobile phone requires constant recharging, while your alarm clock radio has a continuous power source, ensuring the alarm will always go off.

Also, the best sounding alarm clock radios provide convenience through going to sleep and waking to your favorite music or radio program. Although comparable sound can be offered by your mobile phone, it entails the extra step of connecting it to external speakers, which many people don't want to be bothered doing.

This guide will be split up into three different categories which include best clock radio (top 3), best smart clock radio and best travel clock radio. Therefore, depending on your needs, you can select the product which best fits your lifestyle.

As an informed and educated consumer, this alarm clock radio buying guide will also provide information on what to concentrate on when selecting the appropriate model for your needs. These key features include product design, quality of am/fm radio reception, LCD size, connectivity options, battery backup and USB charging option for mobile phones.

Best Clock Radio

Winner - JBL Horizon Bluetooth Clock Radio

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    Rich JBL Stereo Sound
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    Multi-sensory Alarm Clock
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    Digital Alarm Tones
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    LED Ambient Light
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    Bluetooth Streaming
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    Five Radio Presets
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    Dual Fast Charge USB Ports
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    Sleek Circular Design
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    Backup Battery
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    Dimensions 5.8 x 8.5 x 7.3 inches
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    Weight 3.1 pounds

With a state of the art design, advanced functionality and excellent sound quality, right from the get-go, you notice that the JBL Horizon is not just any conventional Bluetooth speaker. This unit proudly shows off a contemporary circular design (with a horizontal base) framed with a smartly compact frame.

With its two 1.75 inch diameter speaker drivers, the Horizon is arguably the best sounding alarm clock radio on the market. With its large sharp display for time, date and audio source, the JBL Horizon also does pretty well in the looks department.

The shiny plastic display covering is quite reflective (similar to a mirror) and could cause some reading difficulties in brightly lit rooms. Rounding out the design is a warm grey colored casing and a large white shiny section in the area for the ambient lighting feature.

To power the sound, the Horizon utilizes power amplifiers of five watts which are directed to each of its two channels. This is enough sound to be able to fill up a bedroom which is smaller in size. This alarm clock radio is compatible with various types of audio sources, including the vital pairing with Bluetooth capable devices.

If you enjoy listening to radio stations, the Horizon is capable of being programmed with five pre-set stations, which will save you time while skimming through your favorite stations.

JBL Horizon Bluetooth Clock Radio.

When the supplied thin cable antenna is attached, this unit should have few problems receiving your favorite radio stations. For the best reception clock radio, you will probably have to utilize a more powerful antenna.

Situated at the bottom of the JBL Horizon, there are inputs for a standard 3.5mm mini-jack (for devices which do not support Bluetooth), power supply and antenna. Additional versatility is provided by the exchangeable plugs power adapter which can be utilized in the USA and Europe.

A handy and convenient feature of the Horizon is the two USB ports which can be used for the charging of your additional devices. If you are in a position without power outlets, this helps out a great deal. There is also a backup battery slot which will keep the unit functioning correctly in case of a power outage.

The Horizon has two alarms which means two different people can use it for different time settings. There is a repeat function (weekdays, weekends, every day, one day) and you can select a buzzing sound, music via Bluetooth or FM radio to wake up to. There are also three custom digital melodies which can be used.

For the price and its class, you will be hard-pressed to find a better sounding alarm clock radio. Although the Horizon does not excel with heavy or deep bass sounds, it is more than adequate sounding for other types of music. Of course, keep in mind that the source of music plays a key role in the quality of the sound.

If you enjoy going to sleep and waking up to music, the JBL Horizon is a radio alarm clock which is jam-packed with many attractive features. For its sleek design and numerous useful and practical features, we place it at the top of the list when it comes to the best clock radio.


Runner Up – Sangean RCR-20 Digital Clock Radio 

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    AM/ FM Digital Tuning Radio
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    18 Pre-Set Stations
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    Large Easy to Read High Contrast LCD Display with Adjustable Backlight
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    Bluetooth 4.1 Technology Built-in for Audio Streaming
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    USB Charging Port
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    Backup Battery Pack (2 AA batteries)
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    Infrared Remote Control
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    Two Alarm Timers for Buzzer or Radio Alerts
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    Snooze Function and Adjustable Sleep Timer
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    Loudness, Bass, Treble Controls for Optimum Sound Adjustment

Adhering to the more conventional rectangular alarm clock radio design, the Sangean RCR-20 Digital Clock Radio comes in as a close runner-up to the winning model. Although this unit may incorporate a more standard shape, it is filled with useful and practical features which make it noticed.

Front and center, there is the high contrast easy to read LCD which includes the time and the audio input option which has been selected. There is also an adjustable backlight which allows you to customize it for your needs.

The AM/FM stereo is digitally tuned, and when utilizing the included remote control, 18 radio stations can be pre-set. The auto seek function is convenient when you are flipping through the stations for something that is to your liking.

The built-in Bluetooth version 4.1 class II technology allows pairing with another Bluetooth device. These days, this feature is a must when it comes to the best alarm clock radios. Also, there is an Aux-In jack, DC-In jack, headphone, and USB A type socket. This gives you several options when it comes to providing a source for music and how to listen to it.

Sangean RCR-20 FM-RDS (RBDS) AM/Bluetooth/Aux-in/USB Charging Digital Tuning Clock Radio

The Sangean RCR-20 has a two alarm timer which is activated by either the radio or the Humane Wake System (HWS) buzzer. The adjustable sleep timer and easily accessible snooze button provide you with additional versatility when deciding on how to wake up.

With regards to the sound, there is a loudness (on or off) setting and bass and treble controls to refine your music. The bass reflex tube for a heavier bass sound is a welcome feature for those who enjoy their music with a little more bottom.

If you are short on outlet space, the USB 5V/1A charger input for a mobile phone is an extremely welcome addition to your unit. The backup battery is insurance against power outage, and the infrared remote control allows you to program the clock from a distance.

The Sangean RCR-20 is an excellent choice when it comes to choosing an am/fm radio alarm clock which keeps you connected in various ways. Leading the list of features is its Bluetooth technology, USB charging port, multiple audio controls and numerous station pre-sets.

If you are in the market for a more conventional-looking unit with advanced functionality, this item may be worth the investment.


Alternative – DreamSky Decent DS206 Alarm Clock Radio 

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    4 Inch LCD Screen with Adjustable Display Brightness
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    Digitally Tuned FM Radio
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    Radio Volume Level from 0-15
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    Sleep Timer from 10-120 minutes
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    USB Charging Port for Devices
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    Adjustable Alarm Sound Consists of Radio or Buzzer which Gradually Increases in Volume
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    3 AAA Battery Backup for Short Term Use During Power Outage

If you prefer a simpler more affordable radio alarm clock, then our pick for the best Alternative model will get your interest. The DreamSky Decent DS206 Alarm Clock Radio is a budget-priced model which has several appealing features.

The first thing you will notice about this unit is the clear and large LCD screen with aesthetically pleasing jumbo digits illuminated in a warm pleasant blue color. If you have vision issues and are not wearing your glasses or contacts, you should have little trouble in viewing the time. You can easily adjust the brightness control of the display to suit your needs.

Its clean, straightforward and unassuming design allows it to fit in with and enhance virtually any type of decor. Simplifying its use, there is a single button to turn the radio on and off, and the loud and crisp sound is enhanced by the 15 level volume adjustment. There is also a programmable sleep time which permits you to fall asleep to the radio timed from 10-120 minutes.

DreamSky Decent Alarm Clock Radio .

One of the neater features of this unit is the gradual wake alarm which starts out at a low volume and then gradually increases, so you awaken calmly and gently. You can select with to be woken by the buzzer sound or the radio.

The nine-minute interval snooze function will let you get some additional sleep if you are so inclined. The USB charging port for other devices and battery backup round out this unit.

For those who are budget minded or prefer a simpler radio alarm clock, the DreamSky Decent DS206 offers plenty of punch for the buck. Incorporating enough features to give it plenty of utility with a simple design, this item rates very well for its category.


Best Smart Clock Radio

Winner – Echo Spot

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    Hands-Free Smart Device for Any Room in House
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    Utilizes 2nd Generation Far-Field Voice Recognition
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    Connect to Cloud-Based Voice Service Alexa to Play Music, Answer Questions, Set Music Alarms, Control Smart Home and more
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    Built-In Speaker for Option to Connect Speakers Through Bluetooth or 3.5 mm Cable
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    Make a Call or Video Calls Hands-Free
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    Smart Home Functions Include Displaying Cameras, Locking Doors, Control Thermostat, Sprinklers, Garage Door and more
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    New Features Are Constantly Being Added Making Alexa Smarter All the Time
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    Product Dimensions 4.1 x 3.8 x 3.6 inches
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    Weight 14.8 oz
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    Dual-band Wi-Fi Supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) Networks
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    Alexa App Compatible with Fire OS, Android, iOS Devices and via Web Browser

As compared to the three previous alarm clock radio reviews, the Echo Spot is so much more than just a conventional clock radio. Sporting a sleek and symmetrical sphere design, the Spot is a hands-free unit which will make your life a whole lot easier.

Using Alexa, the cloud-based voice service, this unit will do everything from ordering a pizza to answering your questions to controlling numerous aspects of your smart home.

Weighing in at less than 15 ounces, the Echo Spot can be easily carried and placed in virtually any room in the house. If you need to make a call, lock your doors or view your home's camera system, Spot will easily do this by listening to your voice-activated commands. The more it hears your voice, the more tasks the unit will be able to learn and complete.

The Echo Spot is an ideal item for those who have a smart home or are incorporating a wide assortment of smart appliances at their residence. Whether it is tuning into to your favorite television program or showing you the baby monitor to make sure your little one is sound asleep, Spot is always available at your call.

Amazon's Echo spot.

For audio, there is a very capable built-in speaker and a 3.5 mm stereo audio output jacks for hooking up to external speakers. This unit provides Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) for audio streaming from a mobile device to Spot or from Spot to a Bluetooth speaker. Voice control of connected mobile devices is also supported by this product.

If you are looking from something which is a step above the alarm clock radio, the hands-free Echo Spot is along those lines. Utilizing Alex, a cloud-based voiced activation system, the Spot can perform a multitude of practical functions within your home.

On top of that, it will even talk to you by answering your questions. For the ultimate in convenience and connectivity for a smart home, the Echo Spot is an intelligent choice which only keeps getting smarter.


Best Travel Clock Radio

Winner – Sangean PR-D18RB Portable AM/FM Clock Radio

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    Digital Radio Tuner
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    Easily red LCD Display with Back-light
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    Two Alarm Timer via Radio or Buzzer
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    10 Radio Station Pre-sets
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    Aux and Headphone Jack Inputs
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    AC Adapter Not Included
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    Product Dimension 6.5 inches Long x 4.2 inches Tall
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    Weight 12.5 oz

If you are often on the road and are looking for an AM/FM radio alarm companion, Sangean PR-D18RB Portable AM/FM Clock. Radio is a unit to behold. With a colorfully protective bumper, the PR-D18 is designed to be banged around quite a bit while you take it on your latest adventure.

This unit is very easy to take around, as it is refreshingly compact, weighs only 12.5 ounces and comes in several color combinations to suit your taste. This portable radio runs on 4 AA batteries and an AC adapter which is sold separately.

Sangean PR-D18RB AM/FM/Clock Portable True Digital Radio.

There is a battery power status indicator which lets you know how much juice is left in your batteries so you can plan accordingly and not get caught without power.

To quickly find your favorite radio station, there is an auto seek function. And to save those radio stations for quick and convenient accessibility, you can program up to ten pre-saved stations (5 FM and 5 AM).

Due to its rugged design, this can be described as one of the best portable digital radios for its price. For a gentle wake up call, there is a dual alarm setting with Humane Wake-Up System (HWS).

So if you're planning to go on the road again and again and need a wake-up companion which is a breeze to carry around and easy to use, the Sangean PR-D18 should be seriously considered. This portable radio with digital tuning gives you plenty of features you desire at the portability level.


What To Pay Attention To When Choosing Your Product

Design

As we have seen with the reviews of these alarm clock radios, there are many attractive shapes and sizes available when selecting. From the modern circular form to the retro-inspired rectangular, there is probably a design style for every taste. The design may also be important in how it integrates your other home furnishings.

AM/FM Reception Strength

If you are an avid radio listener or like to go to sleep and be awaken by the radio, reception and signal strength make a world of difference in sound quality and enjoyment of music. Although many of these products do fine with the provided or built-in antenna, there are stronger antenna upgrades out there as well.

Size Of The LCD

If you wear eyeglasses or do not have perfect eyesight, the size of the LCD is critical in being able to properly view the time and other information which may be displayed. A radio alarm clock with a jumbo display is certainly recommended for those who have diminished eyesight capability.

A big LCD on a clock radio.

Connectivity

We have seen that the most critical connectivity feature for these modern alarm clock radios is Bluetooth since it is often used for streaming from another Bluetooth device. The more advanced units such as the Echo Spot also feature WiFi connectivity along with connecting all of your other smart hardware.

Battery Backup

A backup battery system is a must for those times when there is a power failure, and the unit continues operating without any interruptions. The clock radios offer alternative battery operation in a variety of setups. If this feature is not essential to you, then there is no reason to sweat the details.

USB Charging For Mobile Phones

If you are running short on wall outlets, nothing solves this problem better than being able to charge up your phone with one of these units. Some units may have two USB jacks, while others just provide one. If your mobile phone is always being charged, then this is something to seriously consider to make your charging life much more manageable.

Conclusion

Within this radio alarm clock buying guide, we have covered the three best clock radios, the best smart clock radio, and the best travel clock radio. In essence, we have provided reviews of five quality items which offer a multitude of features.

When looking for the best am/fm alarm clock radio to suit your needs, you should determine for what purpose you will be using it. For example, if you are going to stream music via Bluetooth from one of your devices, built-in Bluetooth is a must.

If you are going to connect external speakers to your unit and listen with headphones, then audio and headphone speakers will be a necessity. Another useful feature when shopping for these items is a USB port to charge your devices.

For those of you looking for excellent sound quality from an alarm radio, it will be difficult to top the JBL Horizon, which can easily fill a smaller bedroom thanks to its speaker. For those who take the sound quality of their music seriously (even in a clock radio), the Horizon should not disappoint.

For those who are looking for a product which goes well beyond the capabilities of an alarm clock radio, the hands-free, voice-activated Echo Spot should be considered.

Amazon's Echo spot.

With the ability to connect all of your smart appliances, this is an item for those who do not like wasting time on mundane tasks. Spot allows you to multitask or lie around, relax, give commands and even ask questions.

Regardless of what type of radio alarm clock strikes your fancy, one thing is clear: today’s units offer options which were not possible in the not too distant past. After reading over this buying guide, you should now have a pretty good idea of which product to select.

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