Lightning Review: Philips Photo Clock Radio (Verdict: Not For Everyone)

The Gadget: The Philips Photo Alarm Clock Radio, which wakes you up to the joys of singing birds, crashing waves or your favourite FM radio shock-jocks, plus greets you with a smiling photo of a loved one, presumably to put you in a good mood early in the morning.
The Price: $260

The Verdict: It's a story with two halves. The first half - which includes the unboxing, the admiration of the glossy black finish and bright LCD display and easy to manage (if a little slow) user interface - is all good. During this time, the idea of an alarm clock that woke me up with my favourite photos was growing on me more and more.

The second half started when I went to bed, with the alarm clock resting on the table by my side. I'm one of those people who can't sleep with any light in the room, and unfortunately, even though you can dim the LCD right down, it's still bright enough to navigate your way around the room in the middle of the night. That may not bug everybody, but it meant that I wrenched the power cable from the alarm in a fit of fatigued despair before the first night of restless sleep was through.

During daylight hours, I could happily test the other features of the alarm - and I was a little disappointed to discover that the photo on the clock screen doesn't cycle through automatically, you need to manually select which photo you wish to wake up with. You can put the clock into slideshow mode, running photos off an SD card or a USB stick, but if you have any portrait shots in there, the frame just cuts off the top and bottom to fill the LCD screen. there's no Ken Burns effect, which would have made it a bit nicer to watch.

Build quality is a little plasticky but sturdy. So the end result is this: If you can handle light in your room when you're trying to sleep, this isn't a bad alarm clock - it's different enough to make it appealing. If you can only sleep in complete darkness like myself, this isn't for you.

[Philips]

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