Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Clock radios are not a new invention, but they are becoming more and more popular due to technical developments. Who wants to be woken up by a shrill ringing when you can start the day with your favourite song or the news?

In our clock radio test 2021 we have researched the advantages of a clock radio compared to other devices. We also go into many of the possible additional functions and special features of clock radios. With our guide, we want to help you find the best clock radio for you and your household.

Summary

  • A clock radio combines the features of radios, clocks and alarm clocks in a single device. A crucial feature of any clock radio is the station search history.
  • Clock radios can be analogue or digital. Analogue radios classically receive stations via ultra-short wave. Clock radios that enable digital audio broadcasting (+) offer a wider selection of stations.
  • Modern clock radios can have many different functions. These include reception of Internet stations, CD drives, projections or Bluetooth.

The Best Clock Radio: Our Selection



Buying and evaluation criteria for clock radios

When planning to buy electrical appliances, the decision is seldom easy. The following aspects should help you to decide on a clock radio:

In the next sections, we will explain which points you should pay attention to in the individual criteria.

Alarm function

Many clock radios are equipped with an alarm function, but by no means all. If you want to use your radio as an alarm clock, you should check the product description to see if it is a radio alarm clock.

If you want to sleep in on the weekend, a clock radio with several alarm times is recommended. This can also be a so-called weekend mode.

This way, you don't have to reset the alarm clock every few days; it is enough to set it once after purchase. An alarm clock with more than two adjustable times is particularly suitable for shift workers.

You should also check whether the alarm function makes use of radio reception at all. Some clock radios can be used as alarm clocks, but only offer a beep. To be woken up by your favourite radio station, you need an appropriate device.

Display

Whether you prefer red, blue or other coloured digits is of course a matter of taste. Apart from the colour, the size and brightness of the display are also important.

The size of the digits may seem irrelevant to some. However, clock radios with small numbers are less suitable for senior citizens.

Senior citizens and people who wear glasses should opt for a large display.

Even if you already have impaired vision in your younger years, you naturally want to be able to read the time even when you are lying in bed without glasses, for example. In this case, you should choose a radio with a larger display.

People with light-sensitive eyes should choose a radio with a tinted display. If you can't see so well in the dark, you need a brighter display. Clock radios with a dimmable display offer the ideal mix here. This allows you to decide how bright the display should shine, depending on the time of day.

Projection

Some modern clock radios allow you to project the time onto the wall. This has the advantage, especially in large rooms, that you do not have to get up every time to look at the clock. It is also possible to have the clock projected onto the ceiling, which is particularly suitable for the bedroom.

Some radios can display other information in addition to the time, such as the date or temperature. The more details the display and thus the projection contain, the less often you have to interrupt your current activity to look at the actual display.

Power supply

Your clock radio can be powered in different ways. The way it is powered depends on where you plan to use it.

If you are planning to put your radio in a permanent place in the home, the simplest option is one with a cable and plug. In the best case, the cable is not permanently built into the device, so that it can be easily purchased if it becomes defective.

For frequent travellers, clock radios with rechargeable batteries or batteries are suitable.

However, if you want to move your radio to another room from time to time, or even take it with you when you travel, a radio with batteries or its own rechargeable battery is more suitable. Batteries can be bought almost anywhere; the disadvantage is that they produce a lot of waste.

With a rechargeable battery, you need to remember to charge it regularly. You only need one, which is usually included in the product.

Compatibility with external media

In this last, but important point, there are the greatest variations among clock radios. Among many others, the most common options are the following:

  • USB connection
  • CD drive
  • Bluetooth

Which one you need is up to you. If you want to listen not only to the news but also to your favourite song, your clock radio should have at least one of these features. Which one depends on your storage medium.

Older clock radios may also have a cassette drive. However, since these products are often limited in other areas, you should rather store your music collection on a more modern medium.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a clock radio

Before you buy just any clock radio, only to be disappointed, read our guide. We have picked out the essential questions for you, and would now like to answer them for you.

What is special about a clock radio and what advantages does it offer?

The special thing about a clock radio is obviously the combination of radio and clock (or alarm clock). Of course, you can also be woken up by other devices. But if you add up all the aspects, you will notice that the advantages of the clock radio outweigh the disadvantages.

We have briefly summarised the most important advantages for you:

  • Combines the functions of several devices in one
  • Allows multiple alarm settings
  • Allows you to listen to the latest news before you get out of bed
  • Often equipped with additional functions
  • Station search history

A conventional clock with an alarm function will certainly be able to chase you out of bed. But only a clock radio can put you in a good mood and give you a pleasant start to the day.

What types of clock radios are there?

You have probably already noticed that no two clock radios are the same. Apart from their appearance, there is also a wide range of functions. To simplify matters, we would now like to introduce you to the two basic types of clock radios:

  • The analogue clock radio
  • The digital clock radio

For many newer radio stations, your clock radio needs the DAB+ standard. Find out before you buy if your favourite station is among them.

We will discuss additional functions in a later section. It is important to first clarify the differences between these two super categories.

Analogue clock radios

The analogue clock radio is considered obsolete by many people. It is not uncommon, especially on the internet, to be advised against buying an analogue radio. On platforms that deal in second-hand goods, the analogue clock radio is still popular. They often come in a chic retro look - and are still fully functional.

Advantages
  • Lower prices
  • Reliable disaster warnings
  • Anonymity of the listener
Disadvantages
  • Poorer sound quality
  • Fewer additional functions
  • Can be switched off

Actually, digital news and mobile phone apps should take over the task of disaster warning. In practice, analogue radio is far more reliable in this regard. Also, the anonymity of the listener is more likely to be guaranteed than with internet-enabled radio.

The big disadvantage of analogue radio is the uncertainty of how long ultra-shortwave broadcasting will prevail. Fortunately, the costs are usually far below its digital twin brother. A short period of use would therefore not hurt too much.

Digital clock radios

The digital clock radio has replaced many analogue radios over time. Instead of using ultra-short waves, it works with DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) or DAB+. In addition, digital clock radios are usually also equipped with several additional functions that older analogue radios cannot boast.

Advantages
  • Larger station selection
  • Better sound quality
  • Display of additional information
Disadvantages
  • Higher costs
  • Higher power consumption
  • Classic stations not always receivable

A digital clock radio is far superior to an analogue one, especially in sound quality and station selection. Digital clock radios are also more likely to have other features such as Bluetooth.

Uhrenradio

In addition to the time, many digital clock radios can also provide you with additional information such as the temperature or the current artist. (Image source: Yasin Hasan / unsplash)

However, especially if the radio is to be DAB+-capable, there are high purchase and maintenance costs. Not only the terminal device, but also the electricity costs more.

Who is a clock radio suitable for?

In principle, a clock radio is suitable for anyone who likes to listen to the radio. So why buy a radio that has no clock or alarm function?

Because there are so many different types of clock radios available, there is one for every group of people. For children, there are colourful clock radios with night lights. Seniors will probably prefer a radio with extra-large buttons and a display.

Young adults can also connect their mobile phones to listen to music apps in better quality. So there is really no one for whom a clock radio is not suitable.

What additional functions can a clock radio have?

The possible additional functions of a clock radio are not endless, but nevertheless extremely diverse. As we already mentioned in the buying criteria, CD drives or USB connections are a good way to have a free choice of music.

Also, with a clock radio that has Bluetooth, you are less limited in choosing your favourite music. If you connect your mobile phone to the radio, you can easily play your personalised playlist.

On the other hand, some models allow you to use an external Bluetooth speaker to listen in different rooms, even with a wired clock radio.

Uhrenradio

If you have a clock radio, you can safely switch off your mobile phone overnight. Unless, of course, your alarm clock has a Bluetooth function - then you can wake up to your mobile phone playlist. (Image source: mr lee / unsplash)

If your clock radio has a Wi-Fi connection, many more stations open up to you that you would not be able to receive with other radios. This means you don't have to switch on another device to listen to internet-only stations.

How much does a clock radio cost?

The prices of clock radios can vary greatly. You should always consider whether the radio is analogue or digital. Additional functions are also important. A clock radio with projection, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth costs more than a simple clock radio that offers none of these options.

Type of reception price range
FM only 10 - 70 euros
DAB or DAB+ 20 - 600 euros

Clock radios that only receive FM start at around 10 euros and do not get much more expensive. DAB+ radios, on the other hand, can cost up to 600 euros - the price range is wide.

What alternatives are there to the clock radio?

There are several alternatives for waking up in the morning:

Type Description
Classic alarm clock The classic alarm clock is an analogue clock that emits a ringing tone at a freely selectable time. Waking up should not be a problem. It is questionable whether the shrill ringing makes for as pleasant a start to the day as music or the weather forecast.
Mobile phone Every modern mobile phone has an alarm clock app. Since you can set any music file as the alarm tone, this alternative is more pleasant than the classic alarm clock. However, your mobile phone must remain switched on overnight. This not only consumes valuable electricity that you need during the day, but also disturbs many people's sleep.

In our opinion, choosing a product other than a clock radio only makes sense if you don't plan to listen to the radio ever in your life.

Conclusion

With a clock radio, getting up in the morning is no longer a torture. Whether you want to wake up to the latest pop hits, the weather forecast or your own playlist - clock radios make it all possible. They are available in many variations, with projection, CD drive or even with W-Lan.

The choice depends on your own preferences. If a cheap clock radio with the most basic functions is enough for you, you will find what you are looking for just as much as if you are looking for an all-rounder with all the additional functions. If you want to sleep on it, don't forget to set an alarm clock.

Photo source: Ginzburg / 123rf

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